The Saskatchewan government announced today that Ontario-based Bluepoint Investment Group had purchased SCN for $350,000. Included in the purchase price is all of the physical assets, along with the network’s film and video properties. In a news release issued by the Ministry of Tourism, Parks, Culture & Sport, Bluepoint was described as a “private Canadian-owned business”. It must now apply to the CRTC for a transfer of the existing broadcast license. During that process, the news release noted, Bluepoint would be financially responsible for SCN’s ongoing operation.
How successful the company will be with its CRTC application is uncertain at this time. In a recent interview, Robin Schlaht of SCN Matters observed that broadcast licenses are not blank cheques. Rather, as part of its mandate to oversee the Canadian broadcast landscape, the CRTC only issues licenses under very specific criteria.
Since its inception in 1990, SCN has operated as a provicial educational broadcaster. Bluepoint has committed to investing in new Saskatchewan programming. In April, Bluepoint CEO Bruce Claassen also promised to respect the “original vision of what the station was.” But he also indicated that changes were planned, such as selling advertising on the network.
SCN Matters has also expressed concern at the rushed manner in which the government has proceeded with the sale of SCN. From the initial announcement in the March 24 budget to now, the process has taken less than three months. Stung by what surely must have been an unanticipated backlash from a broad range of SCN supporters, the government, critics worry, has acted with undue haste.
In the government press release, TPC&S Minister Dustin Duncan said “We took the time to review and evaluate all proposals and we are confident we have made an informed decision.”
Time will tell, I suppose.