Rogers, Bell, close MLSE deal
Rogers Communications and Bell Canada said Wednesday they have completed their acquisition of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment and its sports television channels.
Both announced that they had jointly acquired a 75 per cent stake.
The CRTC gave its approval to the deal last week, on the condition that the two spend $7.5 million over the next seven years on new sports-themed programming by Canadian independent producers.
The federal broadcast regulator also repeated its assertion that companies are prohibited from offering television programs on an exclusive basis to their mobile or internet subscribers.
MLSE owns the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team as well as the Toronto Raptors basketball team and Toronto FC soccer team.
It also owns Leafs TV, Golf TV and NBA TV Canada, as well as two services that have not yet launched.
Critics oppose concentration of content ownership
Critics of the deal have raised questions about the effect of putting so much content in the hands of some of Canada's largest companies, fearing consumers will ultimately pay more.
BCE already owns CTV Inc. and the TSN specialty sports channels and Rogers owns the Sportsnet TV channels.
Both have extensive telecom networks and other media holdings that could benefit from tie-ins to the MLSE teams.
Rogers and BCE's Bell Canada signed a deal late last year to buy a controlling stake in MLSE, the country's biggest sports franchise company, from the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan for $1.07 billion.
Rogers already owns the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team and their stadium, the Rogers Centre, as well as Sportsnet.
Bell owns the CTV television network and specialty cable channels such as TSN sports channel and French-language cable channel RDS.
Bell also has a minority ownership stake in the NHL's Montreal Canadiens, who compete against the Leafs.
The deal also provides that minority owner Larry Tannenbaum, through his company Kilmer Sports, will boost his current stake in MLSE from 20.5 per cent to 25 per cent.
Tanenbaum is chair of MLSE and a governor of the National Hockey League, the National Basketball Association and Major League Soccer.
With files from The Canadian Press