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Torstar Corp. President and Chief Executive Officer David Holland
Torstar Corp. President and Chief Executive Officer David Holland

Torstar buys stake in specialty TV firm Add to ...

Torstar Corp. , the publisher of the Toronto Star, is getting into the TV business.

The Toronto-based company announced Wednesday that it has bought a 25-per-cent stake in Blue Ant Media Inc., a private company that owns a handful of small specialty channels, controlled by former head of Alliance Atlantis Communications Inc., Michael MacMillan. Once it closes, Torstar’s investment will be $22.7-million.

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“We view the investment in Blue Ant Media as strategic, providing Torstar with the opportunity to further diversify our Canadian media asset base,” Torstar president and chief executive officer David Holland said in a statement. “We see the potential in Michael's vision for a new kind of media company in Canada and we are very pleased to be involved.”

Also on Wednesday, Blue Ant announced it will buy High Fidelity HDTV Inc., which owns specialty cable networks Oasis HD, which focuses on nature programs; documentary and film channel eqhd; adventure channel radX; and HIFI, which broadcasts programs on music and art. Torstar’s investment in Blue Ant will close once that purchase is complete. Following a deal in April, Blue Ant also owns a majority stake in GlassBOX Television, which owns comedy channel Bite TV, a music channel called Aux TV; and former CTV-owned channel Travel + Escape. GlassBOX attracted Mr. MacMillan’s attention because of its early dedication to making its programs available online and on mobile devices – it has put its TV on digital platforms since 2005.

“In addition to their equity support, we look forward to working with Torstar's Canadian media operation as the media landscape continues to evolve,” Mr. MacMillan said in a statement.

Blue Ant also holds a minority stake in Quarto Communications, which publishes magazines Cottage Life, Outdoor Canada, Explore and Canadian Home Workshop.

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