Canadian TV stations saved – for a dollar

In perhaps the lowest amount ever paid for a TV or radio station in North America history, three small Canadian stations were sold on Friday – for a buck each.

Cable MSO Shaw Communications purchased CHWI-TV in Wheatley (Windsor), Ont.; CKX-TV in Brandon, Man.; and CKNX-TV in Wingham, Ont. from CTVglobemedia. All three stations are branded “The A Channel”.

CTVglobemedia wound up with the three outlets due to its purchase of former owner CHUM Communications in 2006. All have lost money in recent years, and their financial situation grew so bad, CTVglobemedia considered closing the stations for good when the licenses to operate them expired, which would have taken place this summer. The last blow came when the Canadian Radio Television Comission (CRTC) ruled broadcasters could not collect retransmission consent money from cable operators.

For the record, the last time a station went dark and physically closed was in 1983, when Philadelphia’s WKBS-TV was shuttered and its license returned to the FCC after owner Field Communications (former owner of WFLD-TV) was unable to find a buyer.

As far as CHWI is concerned, the station was hampered by low ad revenues and a weak signal- despite the fact its newscasts clobbered those of hertiage outlet CBET – a CBC O&O on Channel 9, whose stronger signal reaches into neighboring Detroit and is also widely available on the city’s cable systems (CBET was once CKLW-TV, a general-market independent station owned by U.S. company RKO.)

Despite Calgary-based Shaw purchasing the three stations, their future is still in the air.

The deal is pending via CRTC apporval.