The Globe & Mail: Rogers and Bell to purchase majority stake in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment

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Two of Canada's biggest media conglomerates, Bell and Rogers, are partnering up. Their goal? To take control of the iconic Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment group. The CRTC approved the deal yesterday, which includes three TV channels, several sports teams, and even some real estate holdings.

With the CRTC giving Big Telecom their blessing for the purchase by saying that 'consumer safeguards' are in place, attention now turns to the impending Bell takeover of Astral to be reviewed next month. Let the CRTC know that Big Telecom's power grab needs to be stopped. Share our Action Plan for a Connected Canada at http://openmedia.ca/plan/action-plan and stay tuned for future updates.

Article by Rita Trichur for The Globe & Mail

Canada’s broadcast regulator has given its blessing to a $1.3-billion agreement by BCE Inc. and Rogers Communications Inc. to purchase a majority stake in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd.

While that paves the way for the two rivals to take control of the iconic sports company, the real test of consumer safeguards will come next month, when the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission scrutinizes BCE’s $3.38-billion proposed takeover of Astral Media Inc.

The CRTC is imposing some conditions on the MLSE deal, but stressed Thursday that sufficient safeguards are in place to protect consumers and prevent anti-competitive behaviour.

“When deciding whether or not to approve a proposed ownership transaction, the commission must be persuaded, in light of the application and the public record, that an approval is in the public interest,” said CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais. “In this case, we have been convinced that the transaction benefits Canadians as it will lead to the creation of new home-grown sports programming.”

Even so, industry tensions continue to rise over BCE’s growing media dominance.

Competitors Telus Corp., Quebecor Inc., Cogeco Cable Inc. and Eastlink warned Thursday they are preparing to wage an even bigger battle over the blockbuster Astral deal.

BCE and Rogers struck a deal in December to acquire a 75 per cent stake in MLSE, which owns prized sports assets including the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors, with an eye to locking up the accompanying television broadcast rights. Both companies said they look forward to the deal closing in short order, although no firm date has been set. Read more »

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Read more at TheGlobeandMail.com

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