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Rogers in pursuit of MLSE?

Toronto Maple LeafsRogers Communications has reportedly offered more than a billion dollars to acquire a controlling share of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment — which includes the Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL), Toronto Raptors (NBA), Toronto FC (MLS), the Toronto Marlies (AHL) and Air Canada Centre — in a move that could give the firm unprecedented control over Canadian sports and the way they’re covered in the media.

Rogers has reportedly offered $1.3 billion to Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan for its 66 percent stake in MLSE; the pension plan managers says no firm offer has been made, though it’s been reported elsewhere they’d be happy with a $1.5 billion offer.

Rogers already owns the Toronto Blue Jays (MLB) and has a broadcasting/naming-rights deal with the Vancouver Canucks (NHL) for Rogers Arena. It is planning a nationwide cable-sports network, Sportsnet One, and could afford the nationwide rights for the NHL once the Canadian contract, currently held by the CBC, comes up in 2014.

It’s a content play, to be sure; Rogers is putting together content deals to make its cable and cell plans much more attractive. But it also gives Rogers control of three Canadian flagship properties (the Maple Leafs along are profitable and worth more than $505 million) and enough clout to control how the rest of Canadian sports do business — and it could spell the end of Hockey Night in Canada, to boot.

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