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Former 'Dragon' Kevin O'Leary leaving CBC to join CTV; starts next month

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TORONTO - Kevin O'Leary is leaving the CBC after five years as co-host of "The Lang & O'Leary Exchange" to join rival network CTV.

Bell Media, which runs CTV, said O'Leary officially begins Sept. 1 and will appear on a number of television shows including "Canada AM," "eTalk," "The Marilyn Denis Show" and "The Social."

He will also provide commentary on BNN, Bell's financial news channel, and be heard on radio stations 580 CFRA, CJAD 800 and Newstalk 1010.

O'Leary began his television career on BNN and left the network for CBC in 2009 to launch "The Lang & O'Leary Exchange" on the public broadcaster with Amanda Lang.

The duo debated the top business stories of the day, with Lang often providing the opposing view to O'Leary's staunch support of free markets.

The public broadcaster announced O'Leary's departure in a news release late Monday.

O'Leary had made a name for himself as an investor and businessman before becoming a television personality. Earlier this year, he said he was leaving the CBC reality series "Dragons' Den" to focus on his role on ABC's version of the show, "Shark Tank."

His remarks on "The Lang & O'Leary Exchange" occasionally sparked controversy, such as when he called an Oxfam report that showed the 85 richest people in the world had the same wealth as the 3.5 billion poorest people "fantastic news."

O'Leary, 60, called the public broadcaster "a national treasure" in a statement released Monday.

"I'm proud to have been part of its expanding role as a place where ideas that matter to Canadians can be debated from all sides," he said.

"At the CBC, I've had the opportunity to work with world-class producers and journalists, particularly Amanda Lang, with whom I enjoyed having so many intriguing and lively discussions over the years."

Bell Media president Kevin Crull welcomed O'Leary to the network on Tuesday.

"Kevin is an engaging personality whose savvy advice and strong business acumen will be of great interest to our viewers and listeners," he said.

O'Leary said he's excited to return to Bell Media and looks forward to "working with some of Canada's finest producers to maintain the dialogue about capitalism, entrepreneurialism, and family finance that we need to have as a nation."

The CBC is facing ongoing budget struggles due to federal budget cuts, flagging television advertising revenues and the loss of hockey rights to Rogers Media.

After announcing in April that 657 jobs would be cut due to a $130 million shortfall, the public broadcaster revealed last month that another 1,000 to 1,500 positions would be eliminated over the next five years.

The network said Lang would take the helm of a new business program replacing "The Lang & O'Leary Exchange" this fall.

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