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Hope is still alive for Victoria’s oldest TV station

The group bidding to take over CHEK-TV in Victoria is still negotiating with Canwest to keep the station open. It was slated to be closed last night by the debt-hobbled media conglomerate – along with the Red Deer’s CHCA-TV, which unfortunately did go dark. However, CHEK stayed on the air today and was to take it day by day until a deal can be reached.

CHEK-TV employees and local investors launched a campaign this summer to keep the station on the air, reportedly raising $2.5 million. On the weekend, Canwest turned down an offer from the group, claiming it didn’t want to be on the hook for operating losses until the sale was granted the necessary CRTC approval.

Late Monday, on what they thought was the last newscast, CHEK reported that the deadline had been extended. Canwest reportedly hopes a deal can be made by Friday.

Given the local interest in the station, it would have been an outrage if CHEK had been allowed to close yesterday. We’ll keep our fingers crossed this week for the employees and the local viewers.

Meanwhile, Channel Zero’s purchase of two other Canwest stations – CHCH-TV in Hamilton and CJNT-TV in Montreal – was approved last Friday. The new owners got everything they were looking for from the CRTC: a seven-year licence, no requirements to show Canadian priority programming in prime time and no requirement to spend on tangible benefits from the deal. They will be called to a public hearing in 2012 to review their approach to programming.

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