Astral and Bell Media ready to deliver more for Canadian consumers, creators and communities

Astral and Bell Media ready to deliver more for Canadian consumers, creators 
and communities 


    --  New application to join Astral and Bell Media made public by
        the CRTC today
    --  Significant new investment in French-language programming and
        Québec initiatives
    --  Commitment of extensive benefits to create exceptional
        programming, promote Canadian talent, connect communities and
        enhance consumer participation
    --  All local TV stations to stay open with current levels of local
        programming
    --  Learn more about Astral and Bell Media at
        CanadiansDeserveMore.ca

MONTRÉAL, March 6, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - Astral Media Inc. (Astral) and BCE 
Inc. (Bell) today welcomed the public gazetting of their revised application 
to the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to unite 
Astral and Bell Media.

"Astral and Bell are ready to propel Canadian broadcasting forward by raising 
the bar in consumer choice, programming innovation and industry competition. 
Our proposal includes major investments in a broad range of new TV, radio and 
film content, and the development of innovative ways to deliver this fresh and 
compelling media to consumers across all platforms," said George Cope, 
President and CEO of BCE and Bell Canada. "This new application to the CRTC 
clearly demonstrates the tremendous value the combination of these two 
all-Canadian media brands will mean for the Canadian public and their 
broadcasting industry."

The tangible benefits package of $174.64 million proposed by Astral and Bell 
will result in the development and promotion of exceptional new Canadian TV 
and film content in French and English, significant new investment in radio 
and emerging musical talent, and new and enhanced initiatives to grow media 
training and consumer participation in Canadian broadcasting. In addition to 
these new proposed benefits of $174.64 million, Bell earlier committed more 
than $240 million in tangible benefits when it acquired CTV to form Bell Media 
in 2011.

"Canadians want more new options in the way they access the best local and 
national programming, and they want a competitive and dynamic Canadian 
broadcasting industry," said Ian Greenberg, President and CEO of Astral. "Our 
new application to the CRTC outlines how a united Astral and Bell Media will 
deliver what the Canadian public is asking for."

Canadians can learn more about Astral and Bell Media at 
CanadiansDeserveMore.ca, the information portal for the transaction. The 
updated website outlines the benefits of a united Astral and Bell Media for 
consumers and the broadcast industry, with interactive features allowing 
visitors to show their support for the transaction and get answers to their 
questions about the proposal.

Major new Canadian content spending
Of the $124.6 million in TV benefits, 85% will go to independent, on-screen 
productions, with $73.1 million dedicated to French-language programming and 
$32.81 million to English-language.

"Bell Media and Astral are committed to bringing the very best Canadian and 
international content to consumers in all the ways they want. Innovative 
viewing options like TMN Go from Astral and Bell Media TV Everywhere are just 
the start of the world-class products we'll create that rival anything that 
international broadcasters offer - and we guarantee investment in Canadian 
content and our broadcasting community that they can never deliver," said 
Kevin Crull, President of Bell Media. "We've based our revised proposal 
closely on the range of feedback we've heard from consumers, and we're 
ensuring that their direct participation in our industry will grow."

Included in the TV benefits is significant support for the direct engagement 
of consumers in Canadian broadcasting. In 2012, Bell Media established the $3 
million Broadcasting Participation Fund, and now proposes to increase the fund 
by an additional $2 million over the next 5 years as part of these benefits. A 
further $2.73 million is dedicated to consumer education initiatives, $2.69 
million to media training and development, and an additional $500,000 for the 
Canadian Broadcast Standards Council. In total, approximately 15% of the TV 
benefits, or $18.69 million, will be invested in social benefits.

More French-language production and promotion
A united Astral and Bell Media will bring new consumer choices in 
French-language programming and greater competition to Québec media.

Astral and Bell Media will launch a range of new French-language services, 
including Investigation based on the successful Discovery TV franchise with 
programming specifically tailored to Québec audiences. Bell Media's new joint 
venture with Cirque du Soleil will also contribute to further developing 
Québec's world-renowned creative industry, while the Cirque's existing 
library will have new distribution platforms both in Canada and abroad.

The TV and film benefits package will include $23.8 million for feature film 
initiatives in the Harold Greenberg Fund, $18.8 million of which will go to 
French-language projects. An additional $4 million will fund the creation of a 
French-language Television Format Development Initiative for independent 
producers, directors, writers and actors to stimulate the development of new 
talent, from the ideas stage to pilot production. An additional $5 million 
will go towards Telefilm Canada's innovative Private Donation Fund, and $4.9 
million will be invested in French-language youth programming initiatives. 
$43.65 million will be dedicated to French-language programming as part of a 
$68.21 million investment in the development, creation and production of 
additional TV programming of national interest.

Fresh investment in Canadian radio
Astral and Bell Media will direct $50.04 million in benefits to radio, 
developing emerging musical talent, showcasing Canada's hottest rising stars, 
and opening new doors to action and education in Canadian music.

New initiatives such as the Bell Media Emerging Artist Development Program and 
the Breakthrough Canada Showcase Series will be implemented, over and above 
the French and English-language benefits that will also be directed to 
existing CRTC-established radio funds, including Radio Starmaker, Fonds 
Radiostar Factor and the Community Radio Fund of Canada.

Bell Media will become the first national radio broadcaster to commit to a 
minimum of 25% of airplay for emerging Canadian artists at applicable 
stations. The companies will also direct more than $8 million to showcase 
rising Canadian talent, including development of a free cross-Canada summer 
festival spotlighting emerging artists and new French-language festivals 
highlighting up and coming acts.

Commitment to local and regional programming
Canadian viewers are deeply committed to their local programming and local TV 
stations. Astral and Bell Media will keep all their local TV stations open and 
maintain local programming at least through the length of their current 
licence terms. Local programming at all Astral and Bell Media stations already 
exceeds the minimum required by the CRTC.

The united companies will appoint executives in Montréal and Toronto to be 
Canadian programming champions. Montréal will be media headquarters for 
French-language content, under the leadership of the Astral management team, 
while English-language programming will be managed from Toronto. Bell Media 
will also open new regional development offices in Halifax and Vancouver.

Astral and Bell Media moving forward
This new application to join Astral and Bell Media responds to the public 
interest concerns identified by the CRTC in its October 18, 2012 decision 
rejecting the companies' original proposal. The new application to the CRTC 
released today was filed on November 19 and later amended to reflect certain 
terms in the March 4 consent agreement between BCE and the Competition Bureau.

Under both the consent agreement with the Competition Bureau and the amended 
application to the CRTC, Bell will divest several Astral joint-venture TV 
services. This will result in a French-language TV viewership share of 23.0%, 
and 35.7% in English-language TV viewership.

Bell Media will retain 8 Astral TV services: the French-language SuperÉcran, 
CinéPop, Canal Vie, Canal D, VRAK TV, and Z Télé, and English-language 
services The Movie Network, which includes HBO Canada, and TMN Encore. These 
high-quality pay and specialty TV services are key to Bell Media's commitment 
to enhance choice and competition in the Québec media marketplace and deliver 
the best content across multiple platforms in innovative new ways.

Bell Media will also retain Astral's 2 rural over-the-air TV stations in 
British Columbia, CJDC in Dawson Creek and CFTK in Terrace, and Astral's 
interest in the Viewer's Choice Canada pay-per-view service.

Consistent with the CRTC's policy on radio ownership, Bell is also divesting 
10 English-language radio stations. Because of the strong desire expressed by 
Montréal sports fans to retain TSN Radio 690 as an English-language sports 
station, Bell Media has filed a separate application with the CRTC requesting 
permission to continue to operate TSN 690 as an English-language sports radio 
station.

Even after the planned divestitures, Bell has retained approximately 
four-fifths of the original value of the Astral transaction - the retained TV 
services, retained radio and Astral's out-of-home advertising business 
represent approximately 77% of Astral's EBITDA (earnings before interest, 
taxes, depreciation and amortization).

Originally announced in March 2012, the $3.38-billion transaction to join 
Astral and Bell Media was approved by shareholders representing more than 99% 
of Astral shares and the Québec Superior Court. Due to the need for 
regulatory approvals, Astral and Bell on November 19, 2012 extended the 
outside date for closing the transaction to June 1, 2013, with both Astral and 
Bell having the right to postpone it further to July 31, 2013.

About Astral
Founded in 1961, Astral Media Inc. (TSX: ACM.A/ACM.B) is one of Canada's 
largest media companies. It operates several media properties - pay and 
specialty television, radio, out-of-home advertising, and digital - that are 
among the most popular in the country. Astral plays a central role in 
community life across the country by offering diverse, rich, and vibrant 
programming that meets the tastes and needs of consumers and advertisers 
alike. To learn more about Astral, please visit Astral.com.

About Bell
Headquartered in Montréal since its founding in 1880, Bell is Canada's 
largest communications company, providing consumers and business with 
solutions to all their communications needs. Bell Media is Canada's premier 
multimedia company with leading assets in television, radio and digital media. 
Bell is wholly owned by Montréal's BCE Inc. (TSX, NYSE: BCE). For more 
information, please visit Bell.ca.

The Bell Mental Health Initiative is a multi-year charitable program that 
promotes mental health across Canada via the Bell Let's Talk Day anti-stigma 
campaign and support for community care, research and workplace best 
practices. To learn more, please visit Bell.ca/LetsTalk.

Caution Concerning Forward-Looking Statements
Certain statements made in this news release, including, but not limited to, 
statements relating to the proposed acquisition by BCE Inc. (BCE) of Astral 
Media Inc. (Astral), certain benefits expected to result from this 
transaction, BCE's plans and objectives, and other statements that are not 
historical facts, are forward-looking. Forward-looking statements, by their 
very nature, are subject to inherent risks and uncertainties and are based on 
several assumptions which give rise to the possibility that actual results or 
events could differ materially from our expectations expressed in or implied 
by such forward-looking statements. As a result, we cannot guarantee that any 
forward-looking statement will materialize and you are cautioned not to place 
undue reliance on these forward-looking statements.
The forward-looking statements contained in this news release describe our 
expectations at the date of this news release and, accordingly, are subject to 
change after such date. Except as may be required by Canadian securities laws, 
we do not undertake any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking 
statements contained in this news release, whether as a result of new 
information, future events or otherwise. Forward-looking statements are 
provided herein for the purpose of giving information about the proposed 
transaction referred to above and its expected impact. Readers are cautioned 
that such information may not be appropriate for other purposes. The 
completion of the above-mentioned proposed transaction is subject to customary 
closing conditions, termination rights and other risks and uncertainties 
including, without limitation, approval by the CRTC. Accordingly, there can be 
no assurance that the proposed transaction will occur, or that it will occur 
on the terms and conditions currently contemplated by this news release. The 
proposed transaction could be modified, restructured or terminated. There can 
also be no assurance that the benefits expected to result from the 
above-mentioned proposed transaction will be fully realized. For additional 
information with respect to certain of these and other assumptions and risks 
relating to BCE's proposed acquisition of Astral, please refer to BCE's 2012 
quarterly MD&As , and BCE's Safe Harbour Notice Concerning Forward-Looking 
Statements dated February 7, 2013, filed with the Canadian securities 
commissions (available at www.sedar.com) and with the U.S. Securities and 
Exchange Commission (available at www.sec.gov). These documents are also 
available on BCE's website at www.bce.ca.

Media inquiries: Jacqueline Michelis Bell Media Relations 1 855-785-1427 
jacqueline.michelis@bell.ca @Bell_News

Investor inquiries: Thane Fotopoulos BCE Investor Relations (514) 870-4619 
thane.fotopoulos@bell.ca

SOURCE: Bell Canada

To view this news release in HTML formatting, please use the following URL: 
http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/March2013/06/c2677.html

CO: Astral Media Inc.
ST: Quebec
NI: TLS TVNEWS INTERNET ART ENT MNA 

-0- Mar/06/2013 16:10 GMT