Montreal based broadcaster Astral Media will take 100% control of specialty channel The Family Channel after agreeing to acquire the 50 per cent interest currently held by Corus Entertainment.

The (US)$82m cash deal is subject to regulatory approval. The acquisition will also increase to 40% Astral's ownership of the Teletoon animation service held through Family. Meanwhile Corus said it is selling its Viewer's Choice pay-per-view service to cable company Shaw Communications for $35m. Corus is an entertainment arm of Shaw spun off by the company last year.

Andre Bureau, President and CEO of the Astral Broadcasting Group, said the deal reinforces the company's position as a market leader in pay and specialty services in both English and French Canada. The Family Channel now reaches some four million homes.

Astral Media is the country's largest operator of English and French specialty, pay, and pay-per-view television services, involved currently, on its own or with partners, in 20 network licenses. The company also has radio and outdoor advertising interests.

In order to finance the acquisition Astral announced a capital drive through a banking syndicate that will raise an estimated $64m through the sale of more than two million non-voting shares.