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Consumers Ask the CRTC to Deny Bell-Astral’s Second Proposed Transaction

(Montreal) – Five Canadian consumer and public interest groups appear before the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today to oppose the second proposed acquisition of Astral Media Inc. by BCE Inc.

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), which also acts as counsel for the Consumers’ Association of Canada (CAC), the Council of Senior Citizens’ Organization of British Columbia (COSCO), the National Pensioners and Senior Citizens Federation (NPSCF), and Option consommateurs stated the proposed transaction, even with the proposed divestitures and safeguards, would not benefit consumers.

The groups stated its concerns that the proposed transaction would eliminate the largest remaining independent broadcaster and further concentrate an already heavily concentrated Canadian media market in the hands of a few large vertically integrated players. In particular, the groups noted that the proposed transaction, if approved, would allow Bell to control 59.2% of revenues in the French-language pay and specialty television market.

“Consumers deserve a highly competitive market with a diversity of voices and further media concentration will not provide more vigorous competition that benefits Canadian consumers,” said Janet Lo, PIAC Counsel. “In our view, the market is not meeting the consumer expectation for choice, flexibility and affordability and Bell does not promise to meet these needs through this transaction,” added Lo.

The consumer and public interest groups urged the CRTC to deny the transaction and ensure that vertically integrated television providers make strides to providing consumers with greater choice and flexibility to buy the television services that they want. The groups noted the trend of increasing prices for television services, which continues to outpace the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Link to PIAC/CAC/COSCO/NPSCF/OC Oral Presentation:

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Download File: oralpresentationbellastral2.pdf [size: 0.09 mb]

Link to PIAC/CAC/COSCO/NPSCF/OC comments filed with CRTC on April 5 are at this post

 

For more information:

Janet Lo
Counsel
Public Interest Advocacy Centre
ONE Nicholas Street, Suite 1204
Ottawa, Ontario
K1N 7B7
(613) 562-4002×24
(613) 816-5688 (cell)
jlo@piac.ca

John Lawford
Executive Director and General Counsel
Public Interest Advocacy Centre
ONE Nicholas Street, Suite 1204
Ottawa, Ontario
K1N 7B7
(613) 562-4002×25
(613) 447-8125 (cell)
jlawford@piac.ca

http://www.piac.ca

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