Well after the last few months of speculations and a huge about of public out cries, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has denied BCE’s application to acquire control of Astral Media’s television and radio services because it is not in the public interest. Astral Media operates 84 radio stations and 20 pay and specialty television channels in both official languages.
“BCE failed to persuade us that the deal would benefit Canadians,” said Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman of the CRTC. “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.”
Of course Rogers is jumping for join on the decision, with Phil Lind, Vice-Chairman of Rogers Communications saying, “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.”
George Cope, President and CEO of Bell Canada and BCE responded to the CRTC’s decision, “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.”