Canwest closing TV stations in Alberta, B.C.

Canwest Global Communications Corp. is closing two TV stations in its second network, CHEK-TV in Victoria and CHCA-TV in Red Deer, Alta., effective Aug. 31.

Canwest Global Communications Corp. is closing two TV stations in its second network, CHEK-TV in Victoria and CHCA-TV in Red Deer, Alta., effective Aug. 31.

The decision was a "last resort," Canwest Broadcasting president Peter Viner said in a news release Wednesday.

The company also said it will rebrand CHBC-TV in Kelowna, B.C., into a Global network affiliate, effective Sept. 1.

"After reviewing this distinct market's relatively strong economy, the audience share of its local news product and recent changes to the regulatory regime, we have determined that CHBC can be viable as a part of the Global network," Viner said.

With the decisions announced Wednesday, Canwest has completed its review of the five stations in its second network, launched Feb. 5. It announced the sale of CHCH-TV in Hamilton and CJNT-TV in Montreal on June 30.

Since the review started, "we have been able to find creative solutions for three of the five stations, which will sustain more than three-quarters of the jobs impacted by the review," Viner said.

During the review, a number of parties expressed an interest in certain stations, "but none of them came forward with a concrete plan or the funding that provided any level of certainty for the stations, the employees or the communities that they serve," Canwest said.

Canwest has complained that federal regulations, which let cable and satellite-TV companies carry the stations without paying a fee, made the stations unviable. Canwest and other broadcasters wanted rules changed so cable and satellite companies would have to pay a carriage fee.

The cable and satellite operators said it would be their subscribers who would have to pay, and the TV companies were making money.

Viner said that Canwest will "vigorously pursue regulatory change" to help local TV at a regulatory hearing set for the fall.

Canwest, meanwhile, is struggling to restructure its huge debt.