DAILY NEWS Sep 11, 2012 7:59 AM - 1 comment

CRTC Says Bell/Astral Must Prove Deal is Good for Canada

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In  remarks prepared for the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission  hearings into the proposed BCE/Astral acquisition, CRTC Chair Jean-Pierre Blais said that the two companies must demonstrate the public benefits of the deal.

He said the CRTC needs to ensure that “the parties clearly outline why this is a good deal for Canada."

It is the “responsibility of a seller or their representative to prove that a transaction in the public interest. In this case, that means that the burden of proof rests squarely with Astral and BCE, Blais said in prepared remarks.

“We will not hesitate to challenge their representatives, as well as the other parties appearing before us this week, to demonstrate how it will benefit the communication

system from a social, economic and cultural perspective. We will also want to make sure that BCE’s application sets out the best possible proposal for the current market and for Canadian citizens, creators and consumers.

The proposed deal has been met with manhy concerns and critcisms from industry, public advocates and thte Commission itself, as Blais outlined, including:

• the concentration of ownership in the French- and English-language television and radio sectors

• the Commission's various policies, including the diversity of voices, the common ownership policy for radio and television, and vertical integration

• the value of the transaction, and

• the proposed tangible benefits package as well as the intangible benefits.

“We will evaluate the potential risk that BCE could abuse its position in the programming and advertising markets for French- and English-language radio and television services,” his statement added.

As part of the hearing, the CRTC will also consider BCE’s application to convert the radio station CKGM Montréal to a French-language service.

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Reader Comments

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Chris Perry

The concentration of media under one massive multi-media company surely cannot be healthy for this industry. All the promises in the world cannot ensure "diversity of voices" when a common ideology driven by a Board of Directors with but one goal (profit) is present. Should this type of media concentration continue in Canada, we can clearly see there will eventually only be two or three players controlling it all. We need to see smaller companies picking up small blocks of these massive holdings and spread not only the wealth, but the opportunity for more employment and differing voices in our industry.

Posted September 14, 2012 09:32 AM

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