April 22, 2024

NWBroadcasters

Radio and TV news

The aftermath of the Bell announcement

3 min read

Last month Bell announce the sale of 45 radio stations. I wrote about that here. But the dust has settled and there seems to be a clearer picture of what is going on.

Well let’s talk about that for a minute. I was emailed a list of stations that were up for sale. On the list Kingston, Niagara/Saint Catherines and Hamilton were not on the list. Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Brandon and Victoria were on the list. Turns out none of those stations were sold. Yet. I am hearing that there will be another round of stations being sold later this year once the first batch are sold and the approvals go through.

But wait, there’s more. Several people have told me that this coming NHL off season, will see TSN radio stations in Ottawa and Montreal give up the rights to NHL games for the Senators and Canadiens. The TSN radio stations will then be sold. Rumors suggest they will be sold to Rogers to expand the Sportsnet radio brand, but other rumours suggest they could be shut down completely. That would explain the vagueness in the Bell release saying that layoffs of the 4800 people (within all parts of Bell, not just media) would be complete by Spring. It would tie in with the end of the NHL season.

Currently, the NHL rights deal in Canada is with Rogers, with the exception of some regional broadcasts. That deal ends at the conclusion of the 2025-’26 season. Will TSN bid for NHL rights? Doubtful unless there is a shared deal in Canada similar to ESPN and TNT in the US. Will some games go to a streaming service? Time will tell, but currently it seems like TSN is content on focusing on Football over NHL. If Bell keeps trimming to cut costs will they even want to bid on NHL? Or will they sell TSN off over the next couple of years and then move all NFL games to CTV? It is hard to know for sure but I have a feeling the few layoffs we have seen with TSN so far are nothing compared to what will come in the spring.

I also reported in January that Bell was not the only company possibly selling stations. Corus recently restructured the leadership team to better position itself for the future. Shares of Corus have gone down a lot in recent times. Rumors have swirled about stations flipping formats and one recently did, with Peggy 99.1 Winnipeg becoming a Country station, using hosts from other markets to host all shows. Also there have been rumours of a change at 102.1 The Edge, but I believe those are on hold temporarily while they see what happens with the sale of Indie 88 and if there is a change in format over there.

I have also been told that Corus is exploring selling some stations. I have heard they may try to sell all of them but not sure how true that is. But one thing I do know for sure is many companies want to make changes.

Stingray has started the same process as Bell to try to sell stations. From what I have read, it appears they want to only sell stations in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. They are looking for one or two buyers only, which is going to make the sales harder to achieve. I have also heard they are willing to trade properties as well. For example a different company takes over some stations in Alberta and Stingray takes over some of that companies stations in Ontario for example.

It is going to be really interesting to see who buys what stations and what it does for radio in general. I truly think the companies buying stations from the big companies will do really well. They all sound like they want to invest in the stations they are purchasing, and I wonder if that will disrupt how other companies operate. Will there suddenly be companies looking to hire new staff? Will other companies flip formats to try to push for the new owners to do other big changes? Only time will tell. But one things is for sure, radio is going to become more interesting in the next 6-24 months as more changes happen and all the sales get approved.

Either way I am here for it.

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