Takeover won't take away familiar radio sound, says Newcap president

Newcap's president says the new owners of radio stations such as VOCM aren't expected to make format changes.

Montreal-based Stingray to buy Newcap's radio stations, including VOCM, for $508M

Rob Steele, CEO and president of Newcap Radio, says VOCM's news and talk focus is what listeners want, and it will stick around after the company's acquisition. (Newfoundland Capital Corporation)

Listeners can expect to continue enjoying the radio stations they're familiar with, despite new ownership taking over at Newfoundland Capital Corporation, the company's president and CEO said.

The acquisition of Newfoundland Capital, which owns Newcap Radio, by Stingray Digital Group, isn't expected to lead to format changes at the stations involved, including VOCM, K-Rock and CFCB in Corner Brook.

"The attraction for them is assuming it as-is, with the current management team, employee structure, everything else," Newcap president Rob Steele told CBC's On The Go Friday.

"From a listener standpoint, there won't be any difference at all."

Given Stingray's digital focus — the company owns the music channels that are part of some cable packages, among other properties — there has been some concern that VOCM's news-and-talk focus will change. But Steele says the station will continue with that programming.

"That's what the listeners want in that station, so it wouldn't be wise of them to change that format."

Deal now needs CRTC approval

The decision to sell came after the company considered where it could go next with the radio segment of its business, which includes 72 stations across the country, Steele said.

"We were at the point in the company's growth that we were looking at where could we go with radio," he said, adding that options to scale up were limited.

"Basically, we had to make a decision to diversify into maybe some other media platform."

Montreal-based Stingray was considered for merger or acquisition, he said. They were interested in purchasing Newcap, and the $508 million cash-and-stock deal was announced on May 2.

The deal to sell Newcap assets has to be approved by the Canadian Radio, Television and Telecommunications Commission. (Gary Locke/CBC)

The deal, which will make Stringray the largest public independent media company in the country, now has to go through the regulatory process of getting CRTC approval, Steele said, and should take six to nine months to close.

Although the sale is a significant chunk of Newfoundland Capital Corporation's business, that doesn't mean working life is over for Steele.

The company still owns the Glynmill Inn in Corner Brook and will own five per cent of Stingray, where Steele sits on the board. The family also owns Steele Hotels and Steele Auto Group.

"No one's going to retire," Steele said of the future for himself and others members of the family.

"We all like to work."