Quebecor: ‘Big 3’ Ads Equal to “Shrill Propaganda Campaign Designed to Sow Fear”

Quebecor Media (parent company of Vidéotron) chairman Karl Péladeau sent out an editorial this week to newspapers to voice his opinion on the ongoing media war between Rogers, TELUS, Bell and Ottawa.

His thousand word essay recounts history of how Quebecor spent $555 million in the 2008 spectrum auction to go up against members of the “triple alliance” in setting up wireless services, which we now see today as Vidéotron in Quebec.

He applauded Ottawa’s decision to set aside spectrum for newer entrants, which prevented incumbents from outbidding wireless startups, describing how only the Federal government had the “power to break the straitjacket of oligopoly, which was depriving consumers of access to the best prices and the best technology”:

It was clear to industry observers that if the government hadn’t stuck to its guns and set aside a block for new entrants, the oligopoly would have bought up all the auctioned spectrum at any price. The corporations that benefitted from market concentration were willing to go to any length to preserve the status quo. Only government had the power to break the straitjacket of oligopoly, which was depriving consumers of access to the best prices and the best technology. So we commend the government for its resolve in shouldering its responsibilities as the guardian of the public interest, when the incumbents seemed to recognize no responsibility except to their shareholders.

Péladeau goes on to describe the current climate of incumbents versus Ottawa and how the former’s ongoing advertising is failing to generate the support of Canadians and points out the government is defending itself against the “latest bullying tactics” to prevent Verizon from coming to Canada:

The trio has been playing defence with a shrill propaganda campaign designed to sow fear. “The big bad Americans want to grab a slice of our heritage” is the general theme of their new attempt to pull the wool over people’s eyes. So far, it doesn’t seem to be working. A makeshift coalition is being cobbled together to support the campaign. It includes major trade unions, libertarian groups and a former Liberal minister who sits on the Telus board and is also president of a big business lobby.

Reuters yesterday reported Rogers, TELUS and Bell have plans to launch a new ad campaign targeting Canadians based on NSA/PRISM privacy fears.

The opinion piece ends with a plea to Ottawa to “give serious thought” to revising spectrum rules to set aside spectrum for regional carriers such as Videotron, EastLink, SaskTel and others so they stand a chance against the deep pockets of incumbents, which already control 85% of wireless spectrum in Canada.

Yesterday, when asked about what would happen should Verizon fail to enter Canada, Industry Minister James Moore explained to iPhoneinCanada government regulation would still be in place and also referred to “healthy” regional competition, such as Videotron. An examples of this would be Videotron’s current offering of an all-inclusive unlimited voice plan with 6GB of data for $59.95 per month, undercutting comparable plans from incumbents in Quebec.

What do you think of Péladeau’s opinion piece? Should Ottawa listen and set aside spectrum again for regional carriers?

Thanks Prashanna!

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