The Globe and Mail reported earlier this afternoon the CRTC overturned the merger deal between BCE and Astral, as it would have put too much power into one media company and would have required numerous safeguards which would have been a detriment to other companies; essentially it would cause competition concerns:
“BCE failed to persuade us the deal would benefit Canadians,” said chairman Jean-Pierre Blais, who took over the post earlier this year and has quickly put a populist stamp on the regulator. “It would have placed significant market power in the hands of one of the country’s largest media companies. We could not have ensured a robust Canadian broadcasting system without imposing extensive and intrusive safeguards, which would have been to the detriment of the entire industry.”
Moreover, the CRTC said if the merger happened Bell would have the “incentive and the ability to unduly exert market power to the disadvantage of its competitors.”:
“The market power of a combined BCE/Astral could threaten the availability of diverse programming for Canadians and endanger the ability of distribution undertakings to deliver programming at affordable rates and on reasonable terms on multiple platforms.”
Concerns were over Bell’s control of both English and French TV markets, notes the Toronto Sun:
The CRTC contends a combined BCE and Astral would command almost 43% of the English TV market – a media monster almost double the size of what would be its next closest competitor, Shaw.
The merged company would also control 33% of the French TV market.
That’s slightly more than the French market share of Quebecor, which owns QMI Agency, Sun Media and Sun News Network.
Rogers was quick to release a statement on the CRTC decision. Phil Lind, Vice-Chairman of Rogers Communications:
“We commend the CRTC for this courageous decision. We believe that Canadians should have fair and open access to content. This is a good day for consumers.”
What do you think? Should media conglomerates in Canada be allowed to merge and acquire smaller companies? Or does that put too much control into the hands of a few big players?
[via The Globe and Mail]
Update: Bell has released a statement on the decision of the CRTC:
“This is a decision that should not stand. Canadian consumers were told today by the CRTC that they don’t deserve more – more choice, more competition, more Canadian content funding – all of which Bell and Astral committed to with this transaction,” said George Cope, President and CEO of Bell Canada and BCE Inc. “We met all the CRTC’s rules, indeed our acquisition of Astral was based directly on the CRTC’s currently in-place Diversity of Voices policy. The wide-ranging benefits to Canadians of the transaction are clear, but the CRTC has told consumers that they and the rules in place just don’t matter.”