Faced with the CRTC’s refusal to allow it to own three French-language FM radio stations in the Quebec market, Leclerc Communication, which already owns WKND and BLVD, is abandoning the idea of buying CHOI Radio X.
N o not hiding the “disappointment” of management, Stephanie Friess, deputy director of marketing, said in a statement issued late in the day Tuesday that the acquisition of the Grande Allee station, owned by RNC Media , represented “an opportunity and not an end.”
“Leclerc Communication is on a roll and we will now focus our efforts on other growth opportunities to continue to evolve our beautiful business,” she continued, adding that BLVD has “all the assets and capabilities to climb even more in the polls and carve a good place in the Quebec radio landscape “.
Earlier in the Sun interview , Stephanie Friess reiterated the company’s firm intention not to divest itself of WKND and BLVD music stations to comply with CRTC requirements. “We stick to what we’ve always said about our current stations. It’s always been clear and it always stays clear. ”
On Twitter, Leclerc Communication could not be more positive: “The transaction with RNC Media will not materialize.”
Counterweight to Bell and Cogeco
In its decision released on Tuesday following the February 20 hearings held in Quebec City, the CRTC says it approves Leclerc Communication’s authorization to acquire CHOI-FM and the 91.9 Sports station in Montreal (CKLX-FM), but refuses secondly, the “exception to common property” allowing the company to hold three French-language stations in the same market.
The CRTC required that Leclerc Communication file a plan by May 30 to comply with this policy. All indications are that the case will not go further, especially since the federal agency rarely grants exceptions in its policy on common property.
In his representations to the federal agency, Leclerc Communication had argued that the arrival of a “small independent player” would create “a modest counterweight to the dominance of Bell and Cogeco” in the francophone radio industry in Quebec .
“The impact of competition would hardly be perceptible in the Québec market,” the company said, while acknowledging that with the exception requested, Leclerc Communication would take the pole position in the market, with a combined 28 , 5%.
Last August, at the announcement of the transaction, Pierre R. Brosseau, co-owners of RNC Media with Jean-Yves Gourd, had not hidden his enthusiasm, arguing that Leclerc Communication appeared to him “surely as the best buyer”. At the moment, RNC Media remains the owner of CHOI and 91.9 Sports.
Sign for sale
Claude Thibodeau, a radio analyst, says Leclerc Communication’s decision is “an end of dishonor” in the face of CRTC demands that did not want to make “an exceptional case in Quebec “.
“When the Leclerc had this opportunity [to acquire CHOI], it is precisely because the rule, to which they now request an exception, has applied in the case of Cogeco who had been forced to sell stations. It’s ironic that once they come into the world by Caesarean section, they want to object to Caesarean section practice. ”
For Mr. Thibodeau, everything indicates that “the sign For Sale will return to the front” of CHOI Radio X. It remains to be seen which buyer will raise the hand, in a radio market increasingly competitive.
“CHOI has a special flavor. We like or we do not like. The resort is surely still profitable, but it is a product for men. There is a huge part of the advertising market for women that escapes them. The female audience does not go to CHOI because the abrasive tone of the station does not suit her. “