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Go boldly where Shaw refused to go

[Guest post from karenatcmg]

Somebody does want Brandon’s CKX-TV for a dollar. All appeared to be lost after CTV made a terse announcement at 5:11 pm on June 30 (yep, minutes into the July 1 holiday) that Shaw would not be buying CKX and the Windsor and Wingham stations. You may recall the offer was made in a Shaw ad published in CTVglobemedia’s Globe and Mail newspaper in the middle of the CRTC hearings in early May. The offer was accepted by CTV in an adjoining ad.

As suspected, it was all theatre. Shaw was trying to make the point that local TV is viable even without money from cable and satellite companies. Perhaps the lame exit from the deal emboldened the CRTC, which announced days later that it is increasing the funding from cable and satellite companies (yeah, that’s you Shaw) going to the Local Program Improvement Fund from 1% of the companies’ revenue to 1.5%.

Since the CRTC announced its bailout (more LPIF money, low standards for local programming) CTV announced it would keep the Windsor station open another year.

The latest successful bidder for CKX-TV is Bluepoint, an investment firm run by ad guy Bruce Claassen. Bluepoint wants to become a “significant media player in North America.” Apparently, they think the boosted Local Program Improvement Fund is all they need to make a go of it. Perhaps it’s not totally nuts. After all, Izzy Asper started his media empire from a single Manitoba TV station (albeit in Winnipeg, not Brandon). And Bluepoint’s only in for $1.

They are probably busy looking for a new affiliation agreement for CKX-TV since CBC did not renew past August. Perhaps they will go the route of the Pattison Group out west, which just signed with Rogers for stations in Kamloops, Prince George and Medicine Hat. Pattison had to do something since their current affiliation with Canwest’s E! network was doomed. Canwest didn’t buy any programming for E! for next season and plans to shut the E! stations it can’t sell. So far, only CHCH in Hamilton and CJNT in Montreal have a buyer. That leaves the stations in Red Deer, Kelowna and Victoria, as well as the CTV station in Wingham, in a very precarious situation.

We wish Bluepoint all the best in its Brandon venture. The 39 employees at CKX-TV can hopefully now take a deep breath and enjoy the rest of their summer.

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