CRTC Denies Bell Media Purchase Of Astral

Bell Canada Astral Merger Purchase Sale CRTC Virgin Radio Boom NRJ Rouge EZ Rock CHUMThe CRTC has denied Bell Media’s planned $3.38 Billion acquisition of Astral Media.

“BCE failed to persuade us that the deal would benefit Canadians,” said Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman of the CRTC. “It would have placed significant market power in the hands of one of the country’s largest media companies. We could not have ensured a robust Canadian broadcasting system without imposing extensive and intrusive safeguards, which would have been to the detriment of the entire industry.”

The proposed transaction raised substantial concerns related to healthy competition, the concentration of ownership in the television and radio markets, vertical integration and the exercise of market power in an anti-competitive manner. The CRTC was not persuaded that the transaction would have provided significant and unequivocal benefits to the Canadian broadcasting system and to Canadians sufficient to outweigh its concerns.

BCE already controls numerous television and radio services, as well as a national broadcasting distribution service. It is the largest Internet service provider in Canada, the second largest wireless service provider and the third largest television distributor. The acquisition of Astral Media’s services would have created a situation where a company of BCE’s size and scale would be able to exert its market power unfairly and hinder healthy competition.

The full decision can be read here. Along with the denial of the merger, Bell’s application to shift Sports “TSN 690” CKGM Montreal from English to French has been denied.

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1 Comment
  1. Nathan Obral (@myronfalwell) says

    Per Steve Faguy, this merger cancellation will cost Bell $150M CAD in a termination fee. Astral and Bell had already begun merging some parts of the company, and are now forced to undo all of it.

    Of course, no one at TSN 690 can overtly celebrate that their station has been spared out of obvious insubordination concerns. But this rejection has multiple implications that will effect Canadian media for years to come.

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