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October 4, 2006

CanWest Sells Winnipeg’s Cool FM

Written by
cindy mcleod

Canadian jazz news

Cool FM Falls Off Radio Dial

Izzy Asper’s jazz baby, Cool FM out of Winnipeg, falls off the radio dial in a $15 million deal between CanWest Global Communications Corp, the Winnipeg-based television broadcaster and newspaper publisher, and Corus Entertainment Inc. The sale also involves Dave FM, a pop station in Kitchener.

The two stations form the Canadian domestic radio division CanWest MediaWorks Inc., a subsidiary of CanWest Global. CanWest was co-founded by Izzy Asper, a known jazz enthusiast who died eight months following the launch of Cool FM, in February 2003.

Asper pushed for the expansion into the Canadian market three years ago, dismissing doubts that a jazz format would struggle to make money. The Kitchener station is close to breaking even, while Cool FM is still a year away from turning a profit, according to CanWest MediaWorks chief executive officer Peter Viner.

The Canadian radio landscape is dominated by six companies: Corus, Astral Media Inc., Standard Broadcasting Corp. Ltd., Rogers Communications Inc., Newfoundland Capital Corp. Ltd., and CHUM Ltd. (which was bought this year by Bell Globemedia Inc., owner of The Globe and Mail).

Corus radio president John Hayes said the company isn’t looking to abandon the jazz format Mr. Asper created in Winnipeg, which would require an appeal to the federal broadcast regulator.

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