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Federal broadcast regulator expected to decide soon on Bell-Astral takeover

Canada’s broadcast regulator is expected to announce a decision on new public hearings this week on a revamped proposal by Bell Canada to buy Astral Media Inc. after blocking an earlier takeover bid.

Last October, the CRTC rejected a blockbuster $3.4-billion deal by Bell’s parent firm to grab the specialty TV and radio company over concerns it would have led to unprecedented dominance in the marketplace.

Bell returned the next month to the CRTC with a revised takeover proposal the company says addresses the regulator’s worries about ownership concentration.

The CRTC plans to release a decision on whether to launch a new round of public hearings on the proposal sometime by Friday.

The two companies say the new $3.38-billion deal puts the interests of consumers first and would boost Canadian TV and radio content.

They say the deadline for the deal — which needs CRTC and Competition Bureau approval — is June 1 but can be pushed back until July 31.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version wrongly indicated a decision would be made this week