DAILY NEWS Sep 11, 2024 7:59 AM - 1 comment

CRTC Says Bell/Astral Must Prove Deal is Good for Canada

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In  remarks prepared for the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission  hearings into the proposed BCE/Astral acquisition, CRTC Chair Jean-Pierre Blais said that the two companies must demonstrate the public benefits of the deal.

He said the CRTC needs to ensure that “the parties clearly outline why this is a good deal for Canada."

It is the “responsibility of a seller or their representative to prove that a transaction in the public interest. In this case, that means that the burden of proof rests squarely with Astral and BCE, Blais said in prepared remarks.

“We will not hesitate to challenge their representatives, as well as the other parties appearing before us this week, to demonstrate how it will benefit the communication

system from a social, economic and cultural perspective. We will also want to make sure that BCE’s application sets out the best possible proposal for the current market and for Canadian citizens, creators and consumers.

The proposed deal has been met with manhy concerns and critcisms from industry, public advocates and thte Commission itself, as Blais outlined, including:

• the concentration of ownership in the French- and English-language television and radio sectors

• the Commission's various policies, including the diversity of voices, the common ownership policy for radio and television, and vertical integration

• the value of the transaction, and

• the proposed tangible benefits package as well as the intangible benefits.

“We will evaluate the potential risk that BCE could abuse its position in the programming and advertising markets for French- and English-language radio and television services,” his statement added.

As part of the hearing, the CRTC will also consider BCE’s application to convert the radio station CKGM Montréal to a French-language service.

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