Canadians applaud CRTC for taking a stand against Bell’s takeover
CRTC denies Bell’s bid to take over Astral; finds deal to be counter to public interest
October 18, 2012 – Today the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) listened to Canadians and denied Bell’s proposed takeover of Astral.
The Commission announced at a stakeholder lock-up today that Bell had not proven that this deal would benefit the broadcasting system or be in the public interest.
Canada's media system is already one of the most highly concentrated in the industrialized world. Canadians pay high prices for poor content and services because of a lack of competition and choice—OpenMedia.ca, the Stop the Takeover Coalition, and thousands of Canadians had argued that this deal will only serve to worsen this failing system.
Owning more media content creates an incentive for Bell to maximize profits by pushing content that it owns or restricting access to other content it can’t monetize. It also gives Bell control over both media content citizens consume and the delivery of their daily communications.
“I’m thrilled to see the CRTC listen to Canadians and deny this merger,” says OpenMedia.ca Executive Director Steve Anderson. “Canadians have been asking the CRTC to stop giving Bell and other big telecom conglomerates the keys to our media system. It time to move forward and fix our broken media and telecom markets, and this is a decisive step in the right direction.”
Canadians can learn more about the Bell/Astral merger and the Stop the Takeover campaign at http://StopTheTakeover.ca.
OpenMedia.ca is a grassroots organization that safeguards the possibilities of the open and affordable Internet. The group works towards informed and participatory digital policy.
OpenMedia.ca is best known for its StopTheMeter.ca campaign that engaged over half-a-million Canadians, and its StopSpying.ca campaign that prevented warrantless online spying bill C-30 from being passed in Parliament.
About the Stop the Takeover Coalition
The Stop the Takeover Coalition comprises public interest groups and industry players who are coming together, based on a set of common principles, to oppose the proposed takeover of Astral Media by Bell and to promote public engagement through the Stop the Takeover campaign.
Some of the groups leading the coalition include grassroots citizen-engagment group OpenMedia.ca (the group behind the largest online campaign in Canadian history) and the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC). They are joined by the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC), Canada Without Poverty and the CWP Advocacy Network, the Canadian Media Guild (which represents over 6,000 media workers, including those from CBC, Reuters, the Canadian Press, and Shaw Media), the Consumers' Association of Canada, the Council of Canadians (Canada’s largest citizens’ group), the Council of Senior Citizens' Organizations of British Columbia (COSCO), and Québec-based consumer groups Option consommateurs and Union des consommateurs. Learn more about the Coalition and its members at http://openmedia.ca/takeover/coalition.
Communications Manager, OpenMedia.ca
Statistics and Background
- Four large companies—Bell, Shaw, Rogers, and QMI—control 86 per cent of cable and satellite distribution, 70 per cent of wireless revenues, and 54 per cent of Internet Service Provider revenues.
- A report from Boston-based Analysis Group reports that 81.4 per cent of the value of Canada’s TV distribution (cable and satellite) market is controlled by companies that also create content, such as broadcasters and production companies.
- Canada currently has the second-highest level of cross-media ownership and vertical integration among 32 countries studied by researchers in the International Media Concentration Research Project (Columbia University). It will be the highest amongst these countries if the CRTC does not pull the plug on the Bell/Astral deal.
- While concentration is slowly declining elsewhere, in Canada it is rising sharply; the Bell/Astral deal will compound the trend.
- Astral products currently represent Bell's largest single content cost. Astral owns 22 television services and 84 radio stations, many of which currently compete with Bell's 30 specialty channels and 35 radio stations. This includes Super Écran, The Movie Network and HBO Canada, and top specialty brands such as Canal Vie, Canal D, VRAK TV, MusiquePlus, Teletoon, Family and Disney Junior.
- The Bell/Astral deal is valued at $3.38-billion.