Canwest considers selling E! network

Canwest Global Communications Corp. announced it is “exploring strategic options” concerning five of its television stations. And selling the them is one of the options on the table.

The stations include CJNT-TV in Montreal, CHCH-TV in
Hamilton, CHCA-TV in Red Deer, CHBC-TV in Kelowna and CHEK-TV in Victoria, which make up the E! network.

The Globe and Mail reports that the E! network is up for sale “but the stations may be shut down if a buyer can’t be found in the next two months.”

The Globe‘s Grant Robertson writes:

“Though specialty channels make money from the subscription revenues
collected on monthly cable bills, conventional TV stations rely solely
on advertising. Deep declines in ad spending in the past eight months
have hit all broadcasters hard, and are also affecting rival CTV Inc.’s
secondary network, A Channel.

Two broadcasters, Rogers Communications Inc. and Astral Media Inc., say they are not looking at the E! network assets.

CanWest said the company has received interest from potential buyers in the sector, but an official would not elaborate.”

Canwest has hired RBC Dominion Securities to handle the internal review, which the company says will take eight weeks.

Canwest president and CEO Leonard Asper said in a statement:

“These stations have proud histories of serving their communities with
strong independent voices. However, as they are currently configured, these stations are not core to our television operations going forward.

“In the current economic environment, we believe that our
efforts are best focused on the areas of greatest return including the
continued growth of our industry-leading specialty channels and in increasing the linkages between those channels and our powerful Global conventional television brand. We believe this process will lead to significantly enhanced shareholder value.”