DAILY NEWS Aug 7, 2024 3:46 PM - 2 comments

Bell Responds to Astral Acquisition

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Today's effort by certain cable/media competitors to launch a public misinformation campaign around Bell's acquisition of Astral Media is clear evidence that the competitive landscape is changing, and the new reality has competitors worried.

"With Astral, we're actually leveling the playing field with the long-dominant media/cable company in Québec, Québecor, and bringing new investment and increased competition to the media marketplace," said Martine Turcotte, Bell's Vice Chair, Québec. "Coupled with the fast growth of next-generation services like Bell Fibe TV against traditional cable, we have our competitors concerned about how quickly their traditional market dominance is eroding. But it's the kind of new investment in content, services and networks that consumers deserve, and Bell is delivering."

Bell's acquisition of Astral meets all CRTC rules regarding media ownership. After the transaction, Bell Media's national viewership share will be 33.5% for English-language TV and 24% for French-language. Both are within the CRTC threshold of 35%, below which transactions can proceed without concern.

Note that even after the Bell-Astral transaction, Québecor will still have 30% of French-language viewership versus 24% for Bell-Astral - Québecor will still be larger, but simply not as dominant as in years past. As well, Québecor's Vidéotron cable business still dominates Québec TV with two-thirds of the market - Bell has approximately 20% -- and Québecor has been a vertically integrated cable/media company since 2024.

"While it's understandable that our rivals would try to eliminate the competitive threat posed by Bell, consumers benefit when companies innovate, invest and compete in the marketplace, rather than playing regulatory games," said Mirko Bibic, Bell's Chief Legal and Regulatory Officer. "The CRTC already has clear and extensive rules governing how Bell Media and other content providers sell our services, and how other distributors package them for consumers - rules we obviously respect."

Bell Media is in the business of providing content to companies like Québecor, Cogeco and Eastlink, the three cable companies that have allied against Bell. Bell is committed to making content as widely available as possible across multiple platforms. In fact, Québecor buys both Bell Media TV and now mobile TV content, while Bell buys content from them. All recent agreements Bell has entered into over the last year with cable companies across Canada have complied fully with the CRTC's rules and code of conduct.

Bell has committed to provide $200 million in additional funding for broadcasting initiatives as part the Astral acquisition. This greatly increases the funds available for new programming and talent, ensuring greater choice for consumers in terms of TV, radio and digital content than has been available until now, especially in Québec.

Bell is the largest private contributor to the Canadian broadcasting system and to Canadian content development, spending almost $600 million every year. Bell also undertakes more than $3 billion in capital expenditures annually, far more than any competitor, to fund the country's largest rollouts of new broadband infrastructure, delivering popular and competitive new services such as Bell Fibe TV, Fibe Internet and Bell Mobile TV services. Bell employs more than 50,000 people across Canada, more than 17,000 of them in Québec.

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Reader Comments

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If Qu├ębecor, Cogeco and Eastlink don't like it then make a better offer, stay out of free enterprise you bleeding hearts. Competition is good for the economy.

Posted August 13, 2024 02:09 PM


I am totaly against Bell's proposed takeover of Astral Media. I never had any good experiencies with Bell, they are impossible to deal with once you sign up with them, and they keep jacking their prices up. The only time you get to talk to a person at Bell is when they try to sell you something, if you have a problem forget about it, you are just a number. If I have a problem with my current supplier, all I have to do is pick up the phone and they will solve my problem right away. Please do not let Bell get a monopoly!!

Posted August 8, 2024 07:50 PM

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