OTTAWA - The Competition Bureau approved Bell's proposed $3.38-billion takeover of Astral Media Inc. on Monday, but is forcing
The most important aspect of last week's decision is that the new CRTC -- make no mistake, this is a new CRTC with expectations from the government that it adopt a pro-consumer approach -- will put the public and the public interest at the heart of the review process.
CRTC watchers eat crow. Don't you hate it when the world changes faster than you can write about it? Thursday's triumph over Bell is wonderful for consumers; for the thesis I was developing here, not so much. The comments I've read all indicate the Astral decision shows Chairman Blais really does intend to build a consumer-oriented CRTC. I trust he will understand why industry watchers, present company included, had been pretty much unanimous in predicting he'd never, ever turn down Bell on this acquisition.
On Thursday this week, the CRTC killed the Bell Astral deal. The decision was entirely unexpected by anyone, including me, although all along I have argued that Bell's bid to acquire Astral Media, the eighth largest media company in Canada, gave the CRTC ample ground to do exactly what it did. I also argued that it was the right thing to do, and that the CRTC should stop Bell's take-over bid for Astral "dead in its tracks."
In a decision that surprised many media market observers, Canada's telecom regulator denied Bell's $3.4-billion takeover
On Thursday, the CRTC rejected Bell's proposed acquisition of Astral. The quick, unanimous decision -- the hearings wrapped up just over a month ago -- leaves no doubt about CRTC chair Jean Pierre Blais' top priority. Simply put, the public (whether as the public interest or as consumers) comes first. In four months, Blais has transformed the CRTC into a pro-consumer advocate, creating the kind of regulatory agency that until recently was scarcely imaginable. The change is long overdue and credit must go to the new chair and to the government, which has presumably provided the mandate for real change in Canadian telecom and broadcast regulation.
Have you been taken over by Bell Media? The Rick Mercer Report is offering a simple way to find out for sure. On his show
Canada has the most concentrated TV industry ownership of any G8 country, and the second most concentrated TV audience, says
Bell Canada’s takeover of entertainment company Astral Media could mean higher prices for cable and wireless and fewer options
The news Friday that Bell Canada will purchase Astral Media for $3.38 billion, creating a new media giant, is raising concerns