Canadian telecommunications and media conglomerate BCE has teamed with Cogeco, the nation's fourth-largest cable company, to purchase majority control of Quebec-based television network TQS.
The US$47m deal was part of the regulatory divestiture by publishing and media giant Quebecor in the wake of its US$3.4bn takeover of Groupe Videotron last year and its broadcast asset, TVA Group, the province's largest broadcaster. Quebecor purchased 86% of money-losing TQS several years ago and had only recently brought it to break-even status. Currently, TQS holds a 14% share of the province's French-language audience.
The purchase launches a joint venture between BCE's recently created Bell Globemedia unit and the broadcast assets of Cogeco, six TV stations in major centres including Montreal and Quebec City. Cogeco already owns 13% of TQS. The new ownership structure will see Cogeco control 60% and Bell Globemedia 40%. The outstanding one per cent will be bought out. The TQS deal will itself require regulatory approval; such approval will likely be fast-tracked.
The two companies seem unlikely partners given that Bell Globemedia is the major force in the DSL broadband and the DTH satellite markets while Cogeco strength is its 900,000 cable subscribers.