MONTREAL, QUEBEC, Jan. 12, 2011 (Marketwire) --
COGECO Inc. (TSX:CGO) will vigorously oppose the applications filed yesterday by Astral Media Radio Inc. ("Astral") with the Federal Court of Appeal (the "Court") for leave to appeal the decision of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission ("CRTC") authorizing COGECO's acquisition of the Corus Entertainment Inc. ("Corus") radio stations in Quebec and for a stay of execution of the decision until the Court hands down its final judgment. COGECO confirms its intention to complete the transaction, which is expected to close on February 1, 2011.
COGECO management considers that the applications filed by Astral are without merit and constitute a clear attempt to prolong Astral's dominant position in all Quebec commercial radio markets despite the CRTC's unequivocal and well-founded decision. It is noted that the CRTC decision approving the transaction between Corus and COGECO was rendered on December 17, 2010 following a public hearing in September during which all parties involved, including Astral, had the opportunity to fully present their arguments. Over 130 interveners from all walks of life and regions of Quebec intervened in support of the transaction in connection with the public hearing.
"COGECO is surprised and disappointed by this last ditch attempt by Astral to protect its dominant position in the Quebec radio industry by challenging a decision duly made by the CRTC, the regulatory body entrusted with the duty to oversee all aspects of broadcasting in Canada, following a rigorous, public and transparent process," said COGECO Vice-President, Public Affairs and Communications Rene Guimond. "The private commercial interests of Astral cannot be allowed to stand in the way of promoting more effective and sustainable competition in the Quebec radio industry, the re-launch of radio stations that compete with Astral in Quebec's regions whose survival is threatened, the creation of a new independent source of information with Cogeco News, and nearly $9 million in benefits for the broadcasting system as a whole and for the communities served by the stations as a result of this transaction," added Mr. Guimond.
In its decision, the CRTC stated that this "transaction will ensure the maintenance and diversity of information and public affairs programming in Montreal and the regions, which will benefit the entire broadcasting system in Quebec."
Subject to completion of the transaction as proposed, COGECO undertook to set up a news agency, to be called Cogeco News, supplying local participating radio stations with predominantly spoken-word news and public affairs content. As a result, local stations that use Cogeco News content will be able to focus their resources on local coverage. This agency will also be able to share content with small independent private stations and community stations, providing broader coverage of issues arising in the regions.
COGECO is a diversified communications company. Through its Cogeco Cable subsidiary, COGECO provides its residential customers with Audio, Analogue and Digital Television, as well as HSI and Telephony services using its two-way broadband cable networks. Cogeco Cable also provides to its commercial customers, through its subsidiary Cogeco Data Services, data networking, e-business applications, video conferencing, hosting services, Ethernet, private line, VoIP, HSI access, dark fibre, data storage, data security and co-location services and other advanced communication solutions. Through its Cogeco Diffusion subsidiary, COGECO owns and operates the RYTHME FM radio stations in Montreal, Quebec City, Trois-Rivieres and Sherbrooke, as well as FM 93 in Quebec City. COGECO's subordinate voting shares are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX:CGO). The subordinate voting shares of Cogeco Cable are also listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX:CCA).