CTV.ca News Staff
Bell Canada parent company BCE announced Friday morning it is buying 100 per cent of CTV Inc., subject to regulatory approval.

BCE is paying $1.3 billion plus debt, for full control of the company. BCE currently owns 15 per cent equity in CTV.

The deal splits the assets of CTV Globemedia, which also includes the Globe and Mail newspaper. The Globe’s ownership will go to the Thomson family’s Woodbridge Company Ltd., however BCE will keep a 15 per cent stake in the paper.

A longtime shareholder in CTV, BCE will now have full ownership of the network and its specialty television, digital media, conventional TV and radio broadcasting platforms.

Ivan Fecan, president and CEO of CTV Globemedia and CTV Inc. said the move opens up new opportunities.

“In today’s digital age, it is extremely important to be a part of a vertically integrated company that can take advantage of content over multiple screens,” Fecan said in a release.

“As a division of Bell, CTV will be able to grow those capabilities even more. Simultaneously, Bell will benefit from our creative and content management skills.”

George Cope, BCE’s chief executive, said the deal is part of a plan to broaden the media corporation’s content assets. Those assets will be used across its Bell mobile, online and television services.

In a conference call, Cope told investors the media landscape has changed dramatically over the past five years, as its competitors, like Shaw and particularly fellow wireless giant Rogers Communications bought television assets to boost their media presence.

“The adoption of mobile TV is set to accelerate rapidly,” he said. “Video is going to be an integral part of Bell’s product offering and key growth driver going forward.”

“In fact, we generate more revenue from TV today than we do from our home phone access business, which is quite a statement when you think of the history of Bell Canada.”

He added that the acquisition of CTV Inc. “more than levels” the competitive playing field between the media conglomerates.

Bell’s goal is to close the transaction by mid-2011, subject to approval.

A decade ago BCE, under former CEO Jean Monty, acquired CTV in an all-cash deal valued at $2.3 billion.

However, BCE later sold off most of its stake in CTV as former CEO Michael Sabia decided to focus on the company’s core telephone business.

Fecan told employees today that, while he had originally planned to retire in 2012, after the Summer Olympics in London, he will speed up his plan and step down next year. He said he expects to stay in his position for about one year, to help ensure a seamless transition with the Bell takeover and the regulatory process.