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NHL blocks Bell and Rogers from joint bid for rights, report says

Bell and rival telecommunications company Rogers Communications will not be allowed to submit a joint bid for the next cycle of the National Hockey League’s Canadian rights, according to the Globe and Mail.

The newspaper said that the league had included the stipulation as part of its approval of the companies’ takeover of sports franchise and media company owner Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) earlier this week.

MLSE owns sports pay-television broadcasters NBA TV Canada, Gol TV Canada and Leafs TV, which broadcasts coverage of the MLSE-owned Toronto Maple Leafs NHL ice hockey team. MLSE also owns the Toronto Raptors NBA basketball team and the Toronto FC Major League Soccer franchise as well as Air Canada Center, the home arena for the Leafs and Raptors.

The Rogers Sportsnet and Bell-owned TSN pay-television broadcasters are expected to challenge public-service broadcaster CBC, the incumbent rights-holder, when the league’s Canadian rights from 2014 become available.

However, in approving the sale of MLSE from the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan to the partnership of Rogers and Bell Canada Enterprises, Bell’s parent company, the league said that Rogers and Bell can only bid separately for the rights.

The telcos will have a 79.5-per-cent stake in MLSE through a 50-50 joint venture.