CRTC kills $3.4-billion Bell-Astral deal, Consumer champ raises the bar

CRTC Chairman Jean-Pierre Blais will be the special guest at the
Public Interest Advocacy Centre Annual Dinner on November 30.
From J. Goss + Art
"John Lawford, executive director of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, said Friday it would be going “way too far” to characterize the CRTC as a consumer advocate in the wake of the decision. (He said) what is significant — and what will make a real difference for consumers looking for more choices and better prices in their broadcasting and telecom packages — is the commission’s interpretation of the public interest," Postmedia News reported.

J. Goss + Associates provides strategic communications services to the Public Interest Advocacy Centre.

Lawford said: “They said that they looked at the deal through the test that has always been there, which is the public interest, and they were just doing their job. But it’s that interpretation that has changed to include a wider understanding of what the public interest really is. They’re doing their job better and they’re doing their job the way it was always supposed to be,” Sarah Schmidt reported for Postmedia News on Oct. 19, 2012.

Moody's says BCE/Bell Canada avoids re-regulation risks with CRTC denying the Astral acquisition

Moody's Investors Service (Moody's) said that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission's (CRTC) October 18, 2012 denial of BCE Inc.'s (BCE) C$3.38 billion Astral Media Inc. (Astral; unrated) acquisition is credit-positive for BCE since the company will avoid re-regulation risks, an increase in leverage and an increase in earnings volatility. 

"While the up-to-C$150 million break-up fee that BCE will pay Astral is credit-negative, BCE is, on balance, better off. BCE has requested Canadian Government review of the decision," Moody's reported on Oct. 19.

Bloomberg, PIAC says deal will mean higher prices and less choice 

Oct 18, 2012 1:26 pm ET  Bloomberg reported: "Astral Media Inc., the Canadian broadcaster that BCE Inc. agreed to buy for C$3 billion ($3.1 billion), fell the most in more than two months as investors bet that the country’s telecommunications regulator will block the sale. … The Ottawa-based Public Interest Advocacy Centre has said the deal would mean higher prices and less choice for consumers," Hugo Miller and Doug Alexander wrote for Bloomberg.

Toronto Star, Bell’s bid for Astral Media blocked by CRTC

"The decision won praise from consumer advocates who were expecting the commission to come out in favour of the deal. “This is the first time I’ve seen the commission clearly set out what it expects in terms of public interest. It clearly sets out a bright line that this is too far,’ said Janet Lo, a lawyer with the Public Interest Advocacy Centre. “There aren’t any precedents to my knowledge where the commission has flat-out rejected a transaction,” Bruce Campion-Smith reported in a front-page Toronto Star story on.

Bell -Astral : Option consommateurs se réjouit de la décision du CRTC 

« Par cette décision, le CRTC démontre qu’il a pris note des inquiétudes soulevées par les Canadiens. Option consommateurs et d’autres associations de défense des consommateurs comme le PIAC, OpenMedia et l’Union des consommateurs ont travaillé fort pour faire connaître les nombreux messages de désaccord reçus par la population et faire annuler cette transaction », dit Robert Cazelais, directeur général d’Option consommateurs.

Globe and Mail, Bell CEO George Cope, the harshest press release in three decades

"It was a news release that raised a lot of eyebrows in the industry, Iain Marlow reports. And even Bell CEO George Cope referred to the statement, which came shortly after his deal with Astral was killed by the CRTC, as 'probably the harshest press release' he's seen in his almost three decades in the business," Globe and Mail reported on Oct. 20. 

Bell confirms it will ask federal Cabinet to issue direction to CRTC

"Bell will file a request that Cabinet issue a policy direction to the CRTC under Section 7 of the Broadcasting Act, requiring the Commission to follow its already in-place policies when reviewing change of control transactions in broadcasting. With such a policy direction in place, Bell would then re-submit its application for approval of the Astral transaction," CNW Telbec reported on Oct. 19, 2012.