BCE urges CRTC reject Rogers-Shaw deal, independents call for safeguards


BCE Inc. urged the CRTC to reject Rogers Communications Inc.’s $26-billion proposed takeover of Shaw Communications Inc. on Thursday, whereas impartial operators have known as for extra safeguards.

Talking on the second-last day of hearings in Gatineau, Que. this week — that are targeted the broadcasting implications of the deal — BCE representatives echoed issues raised by broadcasters, producers and distributors in regards to the market dominance Rogers would have if the deal have been to be permitted.

“The market energy that Rogers seeks to amass can have a long-lasting destructive influence that may echo all through this interdependent ecosystem,” mentioned Robert Malcolmson, chief authorized and regulatory officer at BCE.

“If profitable, Rogers will obtain a level of management over the broadcasting sector at ranges by no means earlier than contemplated with no clear countervailing advantages for the Canadian broadcasting system.”

Malcolmson pointed to the CRTC’s preliminary rejection of BCE’s acquisition of Astral Media in 2012 due to the market measurement it could create as a transparent precedent for if not rejecting, not less than requiring commitments from Rogers to unload belongings to cut back the ensuing market share.

Sarah Farrugia, vice chairman of content material and enterprise intelligence at Bell, mentioned that if Rogers have been allowed to safe 47 per cent of English-language broadcast subscribers it could be capable of safe unique rights to worldwide applications that it may use to direct subscribers to its on-line streaming companies on the detriment of the printed system.

“It is rather clear that the transaction will lead to Rogers benefiting from a dominant place in negotiations for carriage that, in flip, will result in decreased revenues for Canadian channels.”

Rogers has argued that it wants the elevated scale to compete in opposition to growing competitors from corporations like Netflix and Amazon, whereas holding subscribers inside the regulated broadcasting system.

Whereas direct opponents to Rogers reminiscent of Telus Corp. and BCE Inc. have outright opposed the deal, corporations which can be depending on Rogers and Shaw to host their programming have been extra focused, with many requests targeted on sustaining the established order for a specified interval.

The Unbiased Broadcast Group has requested that Rogers decide to sustaining 50 impartial channels, in contrast with the 40 the corporate has mentioned it can preserve for 3 years.

Ethnic Channels Group has requested that the CRTC require subscriber income to the impartial ethnic producers not lower for 5 years; kids’s TV producer WildBrain has requested that the regulator pressure Rogers to proceed to hold independents at present on Rogers or Shaw for 5 years; whereas others have requested that Rogers be compelled to take care of the satellite tv for pc transportation companies that Shaw at present gives.

Earlier on Thursday, Reynolds Mastin, chief government of the Canadian Media Producers Affiliation, known as for extra tangible advantages from the deal, saying the $5.7 million Rogers has proposed isn’t proportional to the scale of the deal.

“The fee ought to be sure that the applicant commits to a tangible advantages package deal that’s proportionate to the scale and nature of the transaction, and clearly and unequivocally advantages Canadians and their broadcasting system.”

Unifor raised issues about Rogers’ plans to divert the $13 million a 12 months Shaw offers to International Information to develop its personal CityNews community, saying the plan dangers dropping a range of voices in smaller markets.

The hearings on the CRTC are targeted on the broadcasting facets of the merger, whereas different points reminiscent of cell wi-fi companies shall be reviewed by the Competitors Bureau and from Innovation, Science and Financial Growth Canada.

Rogers is scheduled Friday to answer points raised through the week.

This report by The Canadian Press was first revealed Nov. 25, 2021.

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