Media concentration updates

Is Bell too big?
On Aug. 28 a coalition, including the Public Interest Advocacy Centre and formed to raise awareness about media concentration and to stop the takeover of Astral by Bell Canada.

The lastest in media concentration news: Rogers buys curling. Bell buys the Cirque. Gary Bettman blinks. Rogers scores. Last month the CRTC approved the $1.32-billion Bell-Rogers takeover of the Toronto Maple Leafs and MLSE.

Next week the Canada Radio-television Telecommunications Commission will begin hearings on Bell's proposed $3.4 billion takeover of Astral Media.

The CRTC will hear from consumers !

Sept. 10  Monday, CRTC Bell-Astral hearings kick off in Montréal 
Sept. 11  Option consommateurs
Sept. 12  Janet Lo, Public Interest Advocacy Centre
Sept. 12  Union des consommateurs

Let the CRTC, the Competition Bureau, Minister Paradis and Minister Moore hear from you. Ask them to stop the takeover.

J. Goss + Associates provides communications services to the Public Interest Advocacy Centre including media intelligence reports like the one posted below. The report shows good results from the coalition launch news announcement on Aug. 28 and more. For results contact J. Goss + Associates

Is Bell too big? 

Globe reporters Simon Houpt and Steve Ladurantaye filed a 2,000-plus word story on BCE "plunking down $3.3-billion to buy Astral Media Inc." The Sept. 1 Globe and Mail report quotes Professor Dwayne Winseck, "Just maintaining the normal rules of the markets, we know that too big is too big. It impacts pricing and it impacts innovation."  The Public Interest Advocacy Centre commissioned research from Prof. Winseck for its Aug. 9 submission to the CRTC on Bell-Astral.

Montréal, Quebec
10 September 2012 at 9:00 a.m.
Palais des congrès de Montréal
1001 place Jean-Paul-Riopelle Montréal, Quebec
Hearing Room: Room 518 ABC
Temporary Examination Room: Room 519 B - 514-789-3485
Reference Documents: Broadcasting Notices of Consultation CRTC 2012-370 and 2012-370-1.

In the telecom sector, being bigger brings better returns
That's more than double the average return for smaller players such as Cogeco Cable Inc., Astral Media Inc. and Shaw Communications Inc., whose market caps are a fraction the size of the behemoths," David Berman reported for the Globe and Mail on Sept. 1

Rogers aims to be bonspiel virtuoso; Giant buys actual events

RCMP urged to stay out of media policy

Financial Post,  Barbara Motzney is new chief consumer officer at CRTC
The regulator for the broadcasting and telecommunications sectors has established a “chief consumer officer” position, whose job will be to put the interests of the public at the heart of policy-making.Veteran bureaucrat Barbara Motzney, formerly the director general of copyright policy within the federal Heritage department, has been appointed as the first CCO for the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission," Jamie Sturgeon
wrote for the Financial Post on Aug 31.

Broadcaster Magazine, Bell and Cirque du Soleil Partner in Content Development Company
"Bell and Cirque du Soleil announced today that they have formed a new, far-reaching joint venture to develop Québec-based media content for television, film, digital, and gaming platforms. Headquartered in Montréal, the new company will develop entertainment projects for sale and licensing around the world, leveraging Cirque du Soleil's creative resources, consumer insight, and infrastructure with Bell Media's production experience, media platforms, and diverse distribution capabilities," Broadcaster Magazine reported.

"Supporting the creation of new Québec-based media jobs and linked to Bell's pending acquisition of Astral Media, the joint venture is another extension of Bell's strategy of investment in the development and distribution of Québec content. Bell has committed a separate $80 million in new investment in Québec content development when it joins with Astral, and Bell remains the largest private contributor to Canadian broadcasting and content development, spending almost $600 million every year," Broadcaster Magazine reported on Aug. 29

Bell and Cirque du Soleil partner

Rogers stokes Sportsnet growth with curling bid

'Feisty' cable TV group works from private home
New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal, Aug 30 2012

Gary Bettman blinks
Bruce Dowbiggin, Globe and Mail Aug. 29

BCE huddles under the Big Top with Cirque du Soleil

"Send in the clowns – BCE Inc. is turning to the circus to help win support for its controversial $3.4-billion takeover of Astral Media. The company’s Bell Media division said Tuesday it will invest $15-million to form a television and movie production company with Quebec’s world famous Cirque du Soleil – but added it would “revisit” the partnership if its $3.4-billion deal for Astral Media fell through," Steve Ladurantaye wrote for the Globe and Mail on Aug. 29

"On Tuesday, a group comprised of activists organizations from across the country launched a campaign called is asking Canadians to send a letter to the country’s Industry Minster and Competition Bureau voicing their opposition to deal. The group argues Bell will use its size to dominate smaller rivals, charging them high rates for programming that will eventually be passed to consumers," the Globe and Mail reported.

Lament for La Liga

"This is personal. My weekend sanity depends heavily on Spanish soccer. If I don’t have it, melancholy will ensue. Oh sure, there’s plenty of soccer on TV but I am not addicted to the English game and if the Sportsnet (owned by Rogers) schedule is any indication, we are all supposed to be riveted by the English league. El Clásico, not so much " John Doyle wrote for the Globe and Mail on Aug 29 2012.

The situation underlines the bizarre circumstances of Canadian TV, controlled as it is now by a tiny group of cable/satellite/phone company conglomerates. The other day, Rogers bought up The Score, another sports service. Very soon there will be the CRTC hearings about Bell’s acquisition of Astral, a deal that the other cable companies are warning us about. Media concentration, media consolidation. Billions of dollars being spent. And still I can’t see Spanish soccer on TV here? The more channels, the less choice. We should be grateful we have Lifetime, at last. Don’t get me started.

Group vows to fight Bell merger with Astral

Bruce Cran, president of the Consumers' Association of Canada is quoted in a QMI Agency report on the launch of the Stop the Takeover Coalition.
"There's certainly almost a total disdain for (the takeover), not only amongst the public, but certainly amongst their competitor … It would give (Bell) the potential to feed us whatever they wanted, rather than what we wanted as consumers … In additional to that, they would have almost total control of the pricing structure," QMI Agency reported on Aug. 29. "Aside from the Consumers' Association, coalition members include the Ottawa-based Public Interest Advocacy Centre, as well as two consumers' groups from Quebec," QMI Agency, Aug. 28, 2012

Une deuxième coalition s'oppose à l'achat d'Astral par Bell

"Ce deuxième groupe, dont font partie Option consommateurs (OC) et l'Union des consommateurs (UC), estime que la transaction réduira le choix des consommateurs et augmentera leur facture de câble," Agence QMI a rapporté. 

Paradis won't block Bell's bid to buy Astral Media

Industry Minister Christian Paradis was asked about the StopTheTakeover petition. "As far as I understand this is within the [Canadian Telecommunications Radio-television Commission] jurisdiction and Competition Bureau," Paradis  told The Canadian Press. The Aug. 28 Canadian Press said: "The group is led by, and also includes unions and lobby groups such as Canada Without Poverty, the Canadian Media Guild and the Consumers Association of Canada."

Georgia Straight, Coalition opposes Bell’s proposed takeover of Astral 

On Aug. 28, The Straight's Yolande Cole reported:A group of organizations calling itself the Stop the Takeover Coalition is opposing Bell Canada’s proposed $3.4-billion purchase of Astral Media.The coalition, which includes the Vancouver-based group and the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, argues the takeover could lead to higher prices and fewer choices for consumers.

Paradis leaves BCE-Astral deal in hands of CRTC;

Federal Industry Minister Christian Paradis isn't taking a position on BCE Inc.'s proposed takeover of Astral Inc., despite a new initiative from a group opposed to the deal encouraging Canadians to write the minister in protest, Josh O'Kane reported for the Globe and Mail on Aug. 28

Coalition seeks to block Bell-Astral deal
On Aug. 27 The Canadian Press reported: "The group is headed by, and also includes unions and lobby groups such as Canada Without Poverty, the Canadian Media Guild and the Consumers' Association of Canada.

More heat on Astral deal
A second campaign to derail BCE Inc.'s takeover of Astral Media Inc. has been launched, as a handful of advocacy groups joined together to warn the deal will lead to fewer media voices," Steve Ladurantaye reported for the Globe and Mail on Aug. 28

How The Score fits into Rogers' sports lineup
"Communications giant must now find the right role for edgy sports station acquired in $167-million deal." Steve Ladurantaye reported for The Globe and Mail Aug 27 2012. 

More Bell-Astral posts