Huffington Post: How Bell's takeover will worsen Canada's media concentration

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We've seen how the Bell/Astral deal is bad for consumer choice before, but a new report is shedding further light on this vertical integration of Canada's communications. Currently, 81.4% of the value of Canada's TV distribution market is controlled by companies that also create content, meaning that Big Telecom companies are not only transmitting our programming – they're producing it as well.

With the CRTC's impending review of the Bell/Astral merger coming next month – the time to speak out is now. Join concerned Canadians in speaking out against Bell's monopolistic takeover at http://StopTheTakeover.ca/.

Article by Daniel Tencer for Huffington Post Canada

Canada has the most concentrated TV industry ownership of any G8 country, and the second most concentrated TV audience, says a new report that aims to measure the impact of the proposed Bell Canada-Astral Media merger.

The 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.

That is by leaps and bounds the highest percentage in the G8. The second-place country, Japan, has only 37.5 per cent of its TV distribution controlled by content creators. In the U.S., it’s 23.1 per cent.

While observers have long argued Canada has among the most concentrated media in the world, so far there had been little empirical evidence to prove the point.

The Analysis Group's report notes the degree of media concentration is increasingly rapidly in Canada. As recently as 2009, only 40 per cent of the TV distribution market was in the hands of content creators, the report states — less than half the percentage today.

“The Canadian media sector is highly concentrated in comparison with other G8 countries, and the level of vertical integration exceeds any other G8 country,” the report notes.

But Canada is only second-worst when it comes to concentration of the TV audience. Canada’s largest media company, Bell Media, controls 28.6 per cent of the TV viewing market, according to the report. Italy’s largest broadcaster, Mediaset, controls 45 per cent of Italian viewership. (Italy’s Mediaset was founded and is still controlled by ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.)

If Bell Media gets regulatory approval to buy Astral, it will control 37.6 per cent of the TV viewing audience — still below Italy’s levels but higher than any other G8 country.

The Bell-Astral merger has brought the issue of media concentration in Canada to the forefront, after simmering on the back burner for decades.

A coalition of TV distributors launched a campaign last week to stop the merger, using data from the Analysis Group study to back up its argument that allowing the Bell-Astral merger would hurt consumers. However, some of the companies involved in that coalition, including Rogers Communications, are vertically integrated themselves, and contribute to the concentration of media ownership. Read more »

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Read more at HuffingtonPost.ca

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