National Post: How Bell’s takeover would result in less competition, higher prices
As broadcast regulators review Bell's takeover of Astral Media, we're keeping a close eye on Bell's increasing vertical integration that would put Canadian pricing and choice at risk. Speak out against Bell's tightening grip over Canadian communications by telling the CRTC to StopTheTakeover.ca. Article by Chris Peirce for Financial Post Innovation in this digital age is driving transformational change. If Canada acts to harness this transformation, Canadian consumers will be able to access and utilize the content they desire, and Canadian businesses will become more productive and competitive in both the Canadian and global economies. Canadian success at home and abroad for a generation and beyond is contingent upon the decisions we make today to foster a marketplace that drives and rewards this innovation.
Competition in the marketplace is fundamental to this transformation. Competition delivers choice and innovation to Canadians and Canadian businesses, and is the driver of opportunity and productivity. Competition has also been the quid pro quo for the deregulation of the largest players in the digital economy.
There is, however, a corporate transformation underway in Canada that threatens competition and, consequently, the choice and innovation that is key to our success.
This week the CRTC is holding a hearing in Montreal to decide whether BCE, a.k.a. Bell Canada, should be allowed to acquire Astral Media Inc. - the largest remaining independent provider of TV content in Canada, including HBO Canada, The Movie Network, Viewers Choice and other popular TV channels. This is after Bell has already acquired CTV and properties like TSN, as well as Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. With this latest acquisition, Bell will be by far the largest "vertically integrated" company in the broadcasting industry, controlling fully 40% of Canadian content viewed in English-language markets in Canada and a quarter of the content viewed in the Quebec francophone market. This vertical integration means Bell increasingly controls production, broadcasting and distribution of content to Canadians - pricing and choice for consumers are obviously at risk as a result.
If that is not alarming enough, consider the following. Bell is also the increasingly unregulated gatekeeper of the broadband network infrastructure that is the platform for the delivery of content and enables the proliferation of smart devices, applications and alternative forms of content distribution for Canadians and Canadian businesses, whether via telephone, wireless devices or the Internet. Yet its retail pricing to customers of services delivered over the broadband network is virtually unregulated. Read more »
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