CRTC Denies BCE’s bid to Acquire Astral

Bell_RGB_LgThe CRTC caught a number of people by surprise as they denied the application by BCE to purchase the assets of Astral, which include specialty tv, radio and outdoor. CRTC Chairman Jean-Pierre Blais said, “BCE failed to persuade us that the deal would benefit Canadians. 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.”

This deal was always about the concentration of media ownership in Canada. For example, Bell currently controls almost 34% of all viewing hours of English television, and had the deal been approved, they would have controlled almost 43% of all the hours of viewing. It appears, in this case, that Bell failed to demonstrate that the proposed transaction was in the public interest. This means that Astral is now back in play, and possible suitors could be Telus or one of the other large broadcasters, such as Rogers or Corus. However, the same standards would apply to those broadcasters.

Click here for the CRTC release