I think it is time that Montreal sports fan raise a glass for Tom Pentefountas, vice-chairman, Broadcasting at the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) .
The CRTC has taken its share of knocks over the years. However, its actions in saving TSN 690 Radio twice in the last year deserves our praise. Pentefountas, a Montrealer whom I know is a big sports fans, asked all of the right questions during hearings for Bell's second bid to buy Astral Media. Today, the CRTC approved the purchase of $3.4 billion for Astral's suite of TV specialty channels and radio stations.
What this means for Montrealers is that Bell Media now owns TSN 690, CJAD, Virgin Radio, CHOM, a few French language stations and of course CTV Montreal and RDS
So what happens next?
Before long TSN 690 will likely move into the present-day Astral headquarters at the corner of René Levesque and Papineau (right across the street from CTV and RDS).
I suspect that Alouettes and Impact broadcasts will gradually move over to TSN 690 from CJAD. Look for a lot of crossover, with the likes of Ted Bird showing up on CHOM and Rick Moffat, Abe Hefter and Chantal Desjardins doubling up their sportscasts on TSN 690. Hefter and Barry Morgan are fabulous candidates to sit in as replacement guest hosts for TSN 690 hosts when they are away. How about Michael Farber on TSN 690 as well as CJAD?
Mitch Melnick has quite a history with CJAD. Will he get some airtime there?
I do hope that Wayne Bews, the superb and devoted general manager at TSN 690, remains at the helm. He deserves as much credit as anyone else for keeping the station alive.
How about Aaron Rand bringing the colourful Tony Marinaro on the air each day for an insider's briefing?
As mentioned earlier, Bird was a star on CHOM FM and still remains close buddies with Terry DiMonte. He is great in the mornings on TSN 690, but once the two stations are under the same roof I would think it would a natural for him to deliver CHOM FM sportscasts.
This is "win win" for everyone and I for one could not be happier.
As a condition of the CRTC's approval of the deal, Bell must sell a number of Astral's English and French specialty TV channels, including the Cartoon Network, Disney DX and Teletoon, along with some of its English-language radio stations. Bell must also keep a number of English-language TV stations in operation for at least four more years.
When the deal is finalized, Bell's share of the English-language market will grow to 35.8 per cent, while its share of the French-language market will be 22.6 per cent. Bell must adhere to the CRTC's code of conduct for commercial arrangements that limit anti-competitive behaviour and treat independent programmers and distributors fairly, the CRTC said.
Bell must also give its competitors "reasonable access" to advertising opportunities on its radio stations.
The CRTC is also requiring Bell to spend $246.9 million on "tangible benefits" over the next seven years -- $72 million more than the company proposed.
Some of those tangible benefits include paying for initiatives in the radio and television sectors that are meant to create more Canadian programming, and spending on Canadian films and festivals to promote them.