CTV to shut two TV stations in Ontario

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian broadcaster CTV Inc. will shut a pair of its television stations in the province of Ontario, citing “the current global economic crisis” and structural problems facing the conventional TV sector, it said on Wednesday.

CTV, owned by privately held CTVglobemedia, said it will not apply to renew the licenses for the two stations when they expire at the end of August 2009.

The stations operate under the A brand, offering network entertainment and local news programing in the Wingham and Windsor regions. CTV did not specify how many jobs will be lost as a result of their closure.

“The traditional economic model for Canadian television is broken,” Paul Sparkes, CTVglobemedia’s executive vice-president of corporate affairs, said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, we may need to consider similar actions in other local markets given the current regulatory framework.”

In November, CTV cut 105 jobs and became yet another media company to reduce staff as the advertising market falters.

CTV rival Canwest Global Communications Corp also cut broadcasting jobs last year and is now considering selling five conventional TV stations.

Broadcasters like Canwest and CTV have argued they deserve a share of the subscriber fees charged by cable and satellite companies for carrying their signals.

They say such a fee-for-carriage would help offset a drop in advertising revenues they have suffered as a result of the rise of cable and satellite services.

However, last October, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the federal regulator, turned down their requests.

“The financial pressures facing our conventional television operations are further compounded by the commission’s decision to turn down requests to implement a fee-for-carriage regime for local television,” Sparkes said.

CTVglobemedia is owned by BCE Inc, Torstar Corp, the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan and the Woodbridge Co, which is the investment vehicle of Canada’s billionaire Thomson family.

Reporting by Wojtek Dabrowski; editing by Rob Wilson