The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has green-lighted a deal that allows Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) to sell numerous sport television channels to BCE Inc. and Rogers Communications Inc. - the parties that joined forces to purchase a 75% stake in MLSE back in December.
The CRTC explains that although the transaction between the parties involved is worth $1.32 billion and also involves numerous sports-related properties like teams, it only approved the sale of five TV services. These include Leafs TV, Gol TV, NBA TV Canada, plus two forthcoming stations, Mainstream Sports and Live Music Channel.
"When deciding whether or not to approve a proposed ownership transaction, the Commission must be persuaded, in light of the application and the public record that an approval is in the public interest," says Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman of the CRTC. "In this case, we have been convinced that the transaction benefits Canadians as it will lead to the creation of new home-grown sports programming."
The CRTC adds that its policy for ownership transactions in the broadcasting sector requires the purchasers to "demonstrate clear tangible and intangible benefits associated with the approval of a proposed transaction." Specifically, they must make incremental monetary commitments to fund initiatives that will help the Canadian broadcasting systems.
BCE and Rogers proposed a contribution of $3.8 million in such benefits, but after review, the CRTC determined that the pair must spend $7.5 million over the next seven years on the development of new sports-themed programming by Canadian independent producers.