CRTC Approves Bell-Astral Deal
June 28, 2013 at 3:55 AM (PT)
The CRTC has approved the C$3.4 billion sale of ASTRAL MEDIA's radio, television, and cable network interests to BELL MEDIA parent BCE INC. The deal passed on its second attempt at approval (the first being denied in OCTOBER 2012) and allowed BELL to retain Sports CKGM-A (TSN RADIO 690)/MONTREAL, a fourth English-language station in the market, due to "the strong support expressed by MONTREAL’s English-language minority community for this station"; the format will have to be retained for a minimum of seven years.
“ASTRAL’s application put forward a different approach and responded to many of our concerns” said CRTC Chairman JEAN-PIERRE BLAIS. “Yet there remained a significant risk that BCE could exert its market power to limit choice and competition. To ensure the public interest is served, we are requiring BCE to invest in new Canadian programming and sell more than a dozen services, and we are putting in place a number of competitive safeguards. This will maintain a healthy and competitive broadcasting system that offers more programming choices to Canadian consumers and citizens and more opportunities for Canadian creators.”
In addition to the previously proposed divestiture of 10 radio stations and 11 television services, BCE is being required to follow additional safeguards involving access for independent producers and adherence to the CRTC's code of conduct for commercial arrangements.