The Globe & Mail: Bell’s $3.34B takeover will shortchange competition and choice
We've seen how Big Telecom has been putting a cap on our data, but now Bell is looking to capitalize on Canadian choice with a $3.34-billion takeover of Astral Media. Should the deal go through, it would provide Bell with a 37.6% stake in Canadian TV viewership and an increased radio spectrum. As the CRTC reviews the Bell/Astral acquisition this month, the time to speak out is now. Add your voice to our growing campaign at http://StopTheTakeover.ca/. Article by Simon Houpt and Steve Ladurantaye for The Globe & Mail In the past week, a consumer-focused group called Stopthetakeover.ca launched its own online drive to scuttle the Bell/Astral deal by appealing to the country’s Competition Bureau and Industry Minister, both of which have the power to alter or outright kill the deal. The group – whose membership roster includes anti-poverty groups and unions – argues that Bell will use its size to dominate smaller rivals, charging them high rates for programming that will eventually be passed to consumers.
While people often talk about vertical integration as if it were a new phenomena, history is rich with examples of governments stepping in to break up companies that controlled too much of the content they existed to distribute. In the early 1900s, the Canadian government busted up the cozy relationships that telegraph companies had developed with news agencies. In the 1940s, the United States took a dim view of the way Hollywood studios controlled the theatres where its films were shown, and busted up the system.
“You don’t have to go into fantasyland looking for answers as to why this might be a bad idea,” says Dwayne Winseck, a communications professor at Carleton University who wrote some of the material the group has used to make its anti-merger point. “Just maintaining the normal rules of the markets, we know that too big is too big. It impacts pricing and it impacts innovation.” Read more »
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