The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Decima Reports.Its licence applications for the Alberta market denied, CHUM Ltd. has little choice now but to aggressively pursue an acquisition of rival Craig Media. Craig, already on the auction block, is critical to CHUM’s expansion plans, and CHUM company officials don’t deny they’re in the hunt. President and CEO Jay Switzer has repeatedly said as much, recently stating that CHUM remains "committed to finding a way to provide local television service to Albertans. We will continue to pursue any acquisition or licensing opportunities that may arise in the near or medium term."   Craig’s existing Alberta channels are, in the wake of the CRTC’s February 26 decision, the only viable way for CHUM to move into that western market. When rumours initially surfaced that Craig was up for sale, there were concerned whispers that the CRTC would frown upon the sale of a company that had so recently been granted a licence in the Toronto market. The regulator will likely look askance at CHUM gaining egress into the Alberta market through an acquisition - subverting the commission’s decision not to award new licences. But it is nonetheless likely to give CHUM the stamp of approval if the company can come to terms with the Craig family. Craig’s stations have for years been airing CHUM programming in the Alberta market, and the philosophies and on-air feel of the stations owned by the two groups are similar. There are bound to be other bidders. Alliance Atlantis Communications comes to mind, or even Quebecor Inc. as it struggles for a toehold in the English market. Still, it seems that CHUM would provide the best fit as the next owner of Craig’s stations. An agreement between the two will have to come despite several years of bad blood: the duo have been sparring before the regulator on a regular basis. For example, CHUM raised Craig’s hackles when it moved against Craig’s specialty channels MTV and MTV2, while Craig put up a fierce fight in the face of CHUM opposition for a home-turf Toronto licence. Those disputes aside, however, watch for the companies to reach an entente that will likely see a stronger, single broadcasting force emerge from the battlefield.