The federal regulator has approved the sale of the Strait area’s longtime private radio station to an Irving-owned company, with the transaction valued at $1.36 million.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission approved the application for the sale of 101.5 The Hawk on March 8. Bob MacEachern, who along with his wife Brenda are the principals of MacEachern Broadcasting, announced the deal to sell the station to Acadia Broadcasting Ltd. in January.
Neither Bob MacEachern nor Chris Pearson, president of Acadia Broadcasting, could be reached for comment Wednesday.
Bob and Brenda MacEachern had owned the radio station, which has the call letters CIGO, since 1994. The station is based in Port Hawkesbury and serves the counties of Antigonish, Guysborough, Inverness and Richmond. The MacEacherns acquired the radio station from John van Zutphen.
Acadia already owned and operated 14 radio stations in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Northern Ontario.
In the filings to the CRTC, it was noted that among the synergies that Acadia expected to realize with the transaction are accounting and administrative functions such as payroll, human resources, accounts payable, credit and traffic, as well as regulatory and legal matters.
Acadia also indicated that “the addition of a fourth station in Nova Scotia will have a modest incremental benefit to operations in the province in terms of sharing of regional resources. More significant, CIGO will benefit from the resources of a larger corporate parent, including both administrative and creative resources.”
It also states that Acadia’s greater corporate resources will help secure CIGO’s future.
For those who may have concerns over what the sale may mean for the future of programming at The Hawk, the CRTC filings state that “it will continue to be a strong locally rooted and viable radio service with the added benefit of being able to take advantage of knowledge and experience from other Acadia stations … Acadia’s news directors and on-air news staff retain full editorial independence from senior management and shareholders.”
Acadia indicated an intention to expand the station’s news coverage somewhat. Currently, the station broadcast three hours of news content per broadcast week, in 74 newscasts, featuring an average of four news stories per newscast. Acadia Broadcasting indicated it intends to increase news coverage to 4.5 hours of weekly local news programming, producing 77 newscasts weekly and featuring an average of six stories per newscast.
CIGO was founded by former MLA Gerry Doucet in 1975. In 2000, the station flipped from AM to FM broadcasting. It employs 10 people full time, with additional part-time staff. MacEachern has said there will be no changes in the staffing complement, other than himself and Brenda MacEachern leaving the business. At the time the sale was announced, he also said there are many changes afoot in the industry and they felt a sale was something they would have to do eventually to ensure it maintained its role in the community and its live programming.
The MacEacherns own some other businesses locally and are landlords for the building where The Hawk studio is located.