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Bell Media joins the circus

Bell Media in Canada and Cirque du Soleil have formed a joint venture aimed at exporting the latter’s content to the international market.

Cirque du Soleil

The new company will develop content for film, TV, gaming and other digital platforms – drawing on the “creative resources” of the famed circus troupe.

Bell will provide production, distribution and access to the platforms. Bell Media owns the CTV network and dozens of specialty channels.

George Cope, president and CEO of Bell’s parent, Bell Canada Enterprises, described the move as a “multi-million dollar” investment.

“Cirque du Soleil has always put creative forces from Québec in the forefront,” Cope said late Tuesday.

Both BCE and Cirque are based in Montreal, in French-speaking Quebec.

The move comes as Bell Media faces opposition to its pending C$3.3bn (US$3.3bn) purchase of Montreal-based Astral Media. The deal will, if approved by regulators, let Bell into the insular Quebec market. But opponents say the deal should be stopped because it will give Bell too much power in both the province and across Canada.

Bell says its plans will increase investment and job creation in the province. The company earlier pledged to spend C$80m on new content in Quebec, pending closure of the Astral purchase.

Bell also said the Cirque deal is “linked” to the Astral purchase but did not elaborate. Bell earlier this month closed a separate deal to buy Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment with partner Rogers Media.

The new, as-yet unnamed company will develop projects for sale and licensing in both the Canadian and international markets. Cirque will contribute library and new content including its previous television productions the upcoming 3D feature film Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away, due in theatres in December via Paramount Pictures.

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