DAILY NEWS Aug 7, 2012 11:17 AM - 4 comments

Coalition Formed to Oppose Bell's Acquisition of Astral

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2012-08-07

Canadians are asking the federal government to disallow the proposed $3.38 billion takeover of Astral Media Inc. by Bell Canada.  From individual consumers to major communications companies, Canadians are increasingly worried about the concentration of media assets under one roof and the market domination this deal represents. To this end, a national coalition has come together to oppose the transaction.

Today, the website SayNotoBell.ca was launched to promote a national campaign with two objectives: first, warn the public of the risks to them as consumers and of the potential harm to the Canadian television industry if this unprecedented deal is approved; and second, encourage Canadians to contact the Competition Bureau and the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission and voice their concerns.

If the deal is approved, Bell Canada would control:

42% of Canadian private commercial television programming revenues;

45% of English-language television audiences;

35% of French-language television audiences;

79 TV channels, 107 radio stations, more than 100 websites, which is twice as big as its nearest competitor.

38% of total advertising revenues from television and 31% from radio programming; and among national time sales, 40% and 38%, respectively.

The leaders of the coalition commented on the proposed merger:

"As communications industry leaders and concerned Canadians, we view it as our responsibility to inform the public of the dangers inherent in this proposed merger and to oppose this anti-competitive gambit by Bell Canada," said Louis Audet, President and CEO of Cogeco Cable Inc. "This deal is not in the public interest."

"Few of the world's major economies permit a single private broadcaster to acquire such a dominant share of TV viewing. Bell Canada's TV audience share would be 50% greater than the audience share of the largest private firms in the USA, Japan, UK, Australia, France or even Russia," said Lee Bragg, CEO of Eastlink. "Giving one private broadcaster so dominant a share of the television market is bad for consumers and bad for Canada."

"Bell Canada's proposed merger with Astral Media Inc. poses a serious threat to the health of the Canadian broadcasting industry," said Pierre Karl Péladeau, President and CEO of Quebecor Inc. "Competition will be severely reduced and the broadcast market as we know it in Canada will be handcuffed."

History demonstrates that when too much power is concentrated in one company, it leads to higher prices and poorer choices. The coalition is warning consumers that if Bell Canada controls all of the most popular television content, they could charge consumers any price they want to watch it. To get popular channels, you could face pressure to pay for other Bell Canada channels that you are not interested in watching. To watch popular programs, you may be pressured to buy other Bell Canada phone, wireless, Internet and TV services.

The deal could result in the creation of fewer original Canadian programs, and fewer jobs in Canadian TV production. Finally, advertising rates could increase - costs that are eventually passed on to the consumer.

Concerned Canadians can voice their opposition to the deal by visiting www.saynotobell.ca and submitting a letter through the website to Canada's Ministers of Heritage and Industry, the Competition Bureau, the CRTC and their own Member of Parliament.

SayNoToBell.ca is brought to you by Canadians who are concerned about increasing media concentration in Canada. We stand in opposition to the proposed $3.38 billion Bell Canada acquisition of Astral Media Inc. and wish to inform the public and limit the risk posed by the merger. We call on the Competition Bureau, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, and the Government of Canada to block this deal.


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Reader Comments

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John Eden

Orwells "1984" is staring us in the face and it doesn't look good.

Posted August 7, 2012 12:27 PM


john mitchell

Stop this monopoly,[big brother], NOW!

Posted August 7, 2012 12:23 PM


d.larbalestier

NOT AGAIN! we have seen what BELL does with a monopoly on phone services,extracting every penny possible for extras that cost them very little to supply, while at the same time dictating which type of system we have to use and at a price they set. [PREVENT A REPEAT WITH TELEVISION SERVICES] Lets keep the industry competitive [STOP THIS ACQUISITION NOW]

Posted August 7, 2012 12:22 PM


Veronica Linton

Having experienced prolonged high prices with Bell telephone's marginally tolerable services, I took advantage of totally dropping the provider when moving homes five years ago. I paid a mere fraction of Bell's charges and received outstanding services. Bell has become a bloated behemoth and I shudder to think what television would become with them having such a large slice of the viewing public's pie. Healthy competition is what is needed not a monopoly.

Posted August 7, 2012 11:47 AM


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