CRTC says Rogers can buy The Score, but not happy with benefit package

The Canadian Press
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Gatineau, Que. — Rogers has been given the go-ahead to buy sports channel The Score Television Network Ltd., but has to improve benefits to the Canadian broadcasting system as part of the sale.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission valued the total transaction at $172.1 million in  giving its approval Tuesday.

But the CRTC says Rogers Media (TSX:RCI.B) must provide a revised tangible benefits program by May 30.

The CRTC says Rogers’ current package doesn’t provide sufficient benefits to the Canadian broadcasting system or the community served by The Score as a national English-language TV service.

The regulator notes that almost 60 per cent of the  $17.1 million tangible benefits packages goes to Sportsnet Winter Games, an independently produced yearly sports event.

The CRTC says much of this expenditure would be devoted to non-programming expenses and would exclusively benefit Rogers.

However, the CRTC says it supports that 15 per cent of the tangible benefits package be used for digital media production scholarships and 27 per cent for the development of independent amateur sports programming.

Rogers said its tangible benefits package of $17.1 million, which representing 10 per cent of the value of the transaction, will have a positive long-term impact on regional and national amateur sports.

“The funds, which will be directed over a five-year period, will be used to create new programming opportunities for the independent production sector and help foster skills development in multimedia and/or digital media production,” Rogers said in a news release.

Rogers also noted that the CRTC approved its request for changes to how The Score TV channel breaks into live sports programming with highlight packages. The channel is known for its sports headline news and information.

Rogers will be able to increase the amount of analysis and interpretation programming to 15 per cent from 10 per cent and will have the flexibility to break into live sports event programming every hour to present sports results and video highlights, instead of every 15 minutes.

Rogers Media said it plans for The Score to continue providing sports updates once every 15 minutes during live events when possible.

The Toronto company paid $167 million last fall for The Score but the CRTC put an additional value on the transaction.

Organizations: Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, The Score Television Network, Rogers Media TSX

Geographic location: Toronto

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