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BCE, Astral renew effort to win CRTC blessing for union

Bell Canada Enterprises (BCE) president and chief executive officer George Cope, left, and Ian Greenberg, right, president and chief executive officer of Astral Media Inc., speak at a news conference in Montreal in this file photo from March 16, 2012.

CHRISTINNE MUSCHI/REUTERS

BCE Inc. and Astral Media Inc. have proposed a $174.64-million tangible benefits package in a renewed effort to win approval of the deal by the CRTC, which rejected the takeover last year.

The proposal comes as the broadcast regulator prepares to hold a new set of hearings into the deal starting on May 6.

The CRTC rejected BCE's purchase of Astral last year, but BCE revamped its plan and resubmitted it for approval.

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The Competition Bureau approved the $3.38-billion takeover of Astral by BCE earlier this week, but with conditions that included the sale of several of Astral's pay and specialty television channels.

Bell will, however, keep eight of Astral's TV channels including the Movie Network, which includes HBO Canada, and TMN Encore as well as the French-language SuperEcran, CinePop, Canal Vie, Canal D, VRAK TV, and Z Tele.

The Competition Bureau said without the sale of Astral's pay and specialty television channels, the deal would likely have led to higher prices and reduced choices for television programming.

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