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Astral files appeal concerning Cogeco acquisition of Corus radio stations

Astral Media Radio, a subsidiary of Astral Media, has filed a motion with the Federal Court of Appeal seeking to appeal a CRTC decision authorizing an exception to the common ownership policy regarding radio stations made in order to approve the acquisition of Corus Entertainment assets in Montreal market by Cogeco. In the decision, announced on Dec. 17, the CRTC allowed Cogeco to own three French-language stations in the Montreal area, whereas other broadcasters, including Astral, are limited to two. The stations in questions are 98.5 FM, CKOI, and Rythme FM. In its appeal, Astral submits that the CRTC erred in law by not following the standard regulatory proceeding and acted in an arbitrary and unreasonable manner. It also submits that the CRTC neglected to consider the possibility that Cogeco could divest itself of one of these stations in order to abide by the current policy. "The sudden lack of predictability in the application of the CRTC policy penalizes all broadcasters which in the past decided not to pursue business opportunities in order to abide by the policy as formulated and as consistently applied," said Claude Laflamme, vice-president of corporate and regulatory affairs at Astral Radio.

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