Bell Canada, Astral extend $3.4 billion acquisition deadline to July 31

Bell Canada Enterprises (NYSE: BCE) has extended the deadline to complete its $3.4 billion acquisition of Astral Media to July 31 as it awaits final regulatory approval from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

Saturday was the original deadline to close the deal, which was first announced in March 2012.

In October, the CRTC denied BCE's proposal to acquire Astral Media over concerns that it would hold too dominant a spot in Canada's media market.

BCE's rival Telus (NYSE: TU) has also been an outspoken critic of the pending acquisition, saying that a Bell/Astral combination would give BCE a 49.5 percent share of the English-language TV audience in Canada and would drive up prices and limit programming choices for consumers.

After BCE and Astral jointly submitted a revised merger proposal to the CRTC in November, the regulator held hearings last month to discuss the revised proposal, but has yet to issue a decision.  

In its revised proposal, Bell said it would sell all of Astral's English language specialty services and one of its English pay TV services, while maintaining all eight of Astral's channels including The Movie Network.

Already, the proposed transaction has gotten the green light from Canada's Competition Bureau, Quebec Superior Court and Astral's shareholders.

For more:
- see the release

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