Competition Bureau Appealing Rogers-Shaw Merger Decision; Telcos ‘Deeply Disappointed’
On Thursday evening the Competition Tribunal dismissed the Competition Bureau’s case that sought to block the Rogers-Shaw merger, citing how the latter would increase prices for Canadians. The decision resulted in a victory for the $26 billion Rogers-Shaw merger to proceed, and also allow Quebecor to acquire Freedom Mobile.
But not so fast, because on Friday afternoon Rogers and Shaw said in a statement they were notified the Commissioner of Competition will be appealing the Competition Tribunal decision.
“We remain committed to these pro-competitive transactions that will bring more choice, more affordability and more connectivity to Canadians. The Tribunal’s decision was the right one, and the Tribunal was clear in its summary that the transactions we have proposed are not likely to substantially lessen competition in Alberta and British Columbia,” said Rogers and Shaw in a joint statement.
“Instead, as the Tribunal found, the transactions will likely result in an intensifying of competition. We are deeply disappointed that the Commissioner continues to attempt to deny Canada and Canadians the advantages that will come from these proposed transactions,” said both telcos.
The final step for the Rogers-Shaw merger to move forward is for Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, François-Philippe Champagne, to approve spectrum license transfers from Shaw to Quebecor’s subsidiary, Videotron, as part of the former’s planned acquisition of Freedom Mobile.
Reaction to the Thursday Tribunal decision favouring Rogers and Shaw was quick, coming from consumer groups that have long opposed the deal.
“Today was the last nail in the coffin of telecom affordability in a dismal 2022,” said Matt Hatfield, Campaigns Director at OpenMedia “Experts, MPs and ordinary Canadians all know it: this buyout means higher prices and fewer choices, in a telecom market that’s already far too concentrated. Canadians pay some of the highest prices in the world for Internet and wireless services, and the fruits of the government’s half hearted attempts to provide competition are rapidly disappearing.”
“Consumers now face a decade of competitive winter, with higher cellphone, home Internet, cable, satellite and Internet TV and home phone prices,” said John Lawford, PIAC’s Executive Director and General Counsel, on Friday.
“This Decision represents a failure of every promise of the federal government to lower prices, every promise of the competition regulator to block the merger and improve competition in telecommunications and the failure of the quasi-judicial overseer, the Competition Bureau to see the issue from a consumer viewpoint as well,” added Lawford.