Behind the Scenes of the Bell-Astral Decision: The Heroes of Stop the Takeover
The CRTC’s recent ruling against Bell’s proposed takeover of Astral Media was a great victory for the thousands of Canadians who participated in the Stop the Takeover campaign, and the coalition behind it. To help make citizens’ voices heard, these public interest organizations and businesses joined together to oppose Bell’s takeover, and to promote public engagement in the CRTC’s hearing.
For an insider's look into this inspirational victory, we caught up with one of our coalition members, Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) Legal Counsel Janet Lo, who was working hard behind the scenes to show the CRTC that Canadians need to come first.
There’s been a lot of talk about the new Chair Blais’ pro-consumer focus for the CRTC. Lo pointed out that the Commission’s mandate has always been to act in the public interest, and what this decision has made clear is that the CRTC is finally understanding that this means putting Canadians first, which is really encouraging.
Bell has a problem with the CRTC advancing the public interest as this doesn’t conform to their own narrow self-interest. The Telecom giant has tried to undermine the decision by suggesting that this is a new direction for the CRTC based on new policies that it was not aware of before the hearing. But Lo explains that in fact the Commission’s pro-consumer interpretation of its existing policies simply wasn’t what Bell’s lawyers expected.
Lo and other citizens’ groups in the Stop the Takeover Coalition presented a consistent and compelling argument to the CRTC, grounded in empirical research and advocacy work, and calling on experts like Carleton University’s Dwayne Winseck to illustrate how Canadians would lose from this deal. In addition, major competitors and independent service providers also supported this reasoning.
Thanks to the tireless work of representatives like Janet Lo, crunching the numbers and digging through policy documents, the Coalition has been able to make citizen voices heard in these discussions. Especially in cases such as these, where the interpretation of a phrase can make all the difference, we really rely on public interest partners like PIAC to cut through the spin of Big Telecom’s PR machine, and make the issues clear.
Bell, of course, has refused to take the decision lying down, and is trying to convince the government to intervene, however their arguments are pretty unconvincing. While the Bell-Astral ruling isn’t a done deal, we can be confident that Stop the Takeover Coalition members like Janet Lo are keeping a close eye on the situation.
The fight isn’t over yet. Learn more and sign the Stop the Takeover petition »