Nowak: Is the CRTC really citizen-friendly?
Canadians have been speaking out and decision-makers at the CRTC have been listening. We've been heard in gathering feedback for a new wireless code, stopping the initial takeover bid from Big Telecom Bell, and increasing transparency of network costs. But Big Telecom bureaucrats are attempting to influence decisions back in their favour – a setback that would be felt by Canadians nationwide. Help promote an open and transparent CRTC that is focused on public interest, share our Action Plan with your MP at OpenMedia.ca/Plan. Article by Pete Nowak Relatively new CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais was on a tear last week, proclaiming from every rooftop that there’s a new wind a-blowin’ at the regulator. It’s out with the old ways of doing business, where big businesses were all that mattered, and in with consumers, the every-day Joes that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is supposed to protect and look out for. After so many years of rubber-stamping anti-consumer moves by those big corporations – usage-based billing, anyone? – and muddying up potentially pro-consumer developments (remember Wind Mobile?), the new stance is refreshing to hear.
Bell makes second attempt at Astral Media takeover
Big telecom company Bell is once again trying to take over Astral Media and gain more control over Canada’s media system. This comes only one month after the CRTC listened to Canadians decrying the deal and shot down the merger, saying that this concentration of power in Bell’s hands would not benefit the public. Bell is attempting to make the argument that their takeover would benefit Canadians, despite the fact that Canadians have already been clear that this is not the case. Learn more about the Bell/Astral merger and take action at StopTheTakeover.ca. Read more on these developments in our press release.
The Globe and Mail: Bell submits new takeover bid
Bell is attempting to repackage its $3.38-billion takeover of Astral Media to decision-makers at the CRTC. This Big Telecom power-grab would lead to higher vertical integration, less market choice and increased costs to Canadians. Let's ensure that our voices are heard once more. Speak out against Bell's tightening grip over Canadian communications by telling the CRTC to StopTheTakeover.ca. Article by Steve Ladurantaye and Jacquie McNish for The Globe and Mail Canada’s broadcast regulator has signalled it would clear the way for BCE Inc. to bulk up in Quebec as it resurrects its bid for Astral Media Inc, provided the media giant unloads television and radio stations in the rest of the country and does a better job of explaining how its $3-billion takeover would benefit Canadians. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission warned BCE and Astral Media when it rejected the first takeover bid that it was concerned that a combined company would control too much of the Canadian market, including Quebec.
The Globe and Mail: New boss, new way – CRTC aims to serve Canadians
Over the past month, we've seen a number of decisions made by the CRTC that have resulted from Canadians speaking out against Big Telecom's unfair practices. The CRTC has shown they are willing to listen to Canadians, so let's make ourselves be heard. Share your CellPhoneHorrorStory.ca and let's take the steps to fix our broken telecom market. Article by Rita Trichur for The Globe and Mail At first, Jean-Pierre Blais did not want the job. When headhunters approached him late last winter, they sought his advice on who would be a suitable candidate to lead Ottawa’s watchdog on the telecommunications and broadcasting industries. Mr. Blais supplied them with some names. Then the headhunters came back. “At one point they said: ‘Well, would you be interested?’ And that’s when I laughed them off because I knew how daunting a job this is,” said Mr. Blais. “Even back then, I knew that the public trust had disappeared, that technology was creating a stress on the system, that there was a lot of tension in the system because of the vigour of competition.” But then came a change of heart. After weeks of reflection, he agreed to apply for the job – a decision that is now altering the course of the Canadian communications business.
The Globe and Mail: With Astral on the ropes, Bell takes on Canadians
After speaking out against Bell's $3.4-billion takeover of Astral Media, the CRTC made a decision to listen to Canadians and block the Big Telecom expansion of power. Naturally, Bell hasn't been so easy to give up on its power-grab – instead now taking on Canadians and the CRTC. We need to stand by the CRTC decision that was made in our favour, telling our MPs to do the same. Sign and share our StopTheTakeover.ca campaign to help stop Bell's takeover for good. Article by Simon Houpt for The Globe & Mail It sounded at once alluring and kind of unseemly. At a roundtable chat here on Tuesday afternoon hosted by Larry King, Kevin Crull, the president of Bell Media, listened in admiration as his fellow panelists sketched out their utopian visions for how technology is making the world an infinitely better place. One Kenyan entrepreneur talked about a game he had developed, in which players protect trees from illegal loggers, that helped change people’s views of the practice in the real world. Brian David Johnson, a futurist at Intel, marvelled: “The idea that people just carry the Internet in their pocket – they carry a gateway to global business, to global politics in their pocket – I think has just had a massive, massive effect on our society.”
Knocking down the Bell tower: How Canadians helped in stopping Big Telecom’s takeover
As part of a larger campaign to spread awareness about communications issues in Canada, we at OpenMedia.ca have been encouraging students at universities and colleges across Canada to run OpenMedia.ca clubs on their campuses. Previously, our campus club at OpenMedia McGill reported back on their trip to the Bell/Astral hearings in September. Now, they're sharing their insight into the CRTC decision that was made after Canadians spoke out to StopTheTakeover.ca. Read on for how Bell's takeover was stopped with your support, where the merger stands now and how you can help in speaking out further.
CRTC’s Bell-Astral Decision Signals Welcome Shift Towards Transparency
Given that Canada’s media system is already one of the most highly concentrated in the industrialized world, the case has brought a lot of attention to the problems of vertical integration, and the negative impacts it can have on the availability of content, and the prices we pay. As the CRTC noted in its ruling, Bell is “the largest Internet service provider in Canada, the second largest wireless service provider and the third largest television distributor”. When one company owns the medium and the message, there is a strong profit incentive to push content that it owns, or restrict access to other content it doesn’t control.
Bell’s Takeover Goes to Ottawa?
After losing in its battle against Canadians before the CRTC, Bell announced it would try to get parliament to overturn the decision! The Big Telecom company just can't respect the will of citizens in a democracy. Despite Bell's sour grapes, the federal government has stated that it won't overturn yesterday's groundbreaking decision by the CRTC to stop Bell's takeover. Bell's dwindling options now reside with the Federal Court of Appeal. We must stay vigilant in case they go that route. Thank you for speaking out and ensuring that Bell's takeover was stopped. Let's continue forward with fixing Canada's broken telecom market. Read more about the government's decision in a news article at The Globe and Mail
Techvibes: CRTC blocks Bell’s $3.4-billion takeover of Astral Media
Because of your support of the http://StopTheTakeover.ca/ campaign, Bell's takeover of Astral Media has been stopped by the CRTC. Had the deal been approved, Bell would have been given an overwhelming market share of Canada's communications – effectively allowing them to price-gouge Canadians and restrict access to the open Internet. We're now taking steps to fix our broken telecom market. Simply put: THANK YOU. Article by Knowlton Thomas for Techvibes Earlier this year Bell acquired Astral Media for a whopping $3.4 billion. But the deal was too big to happen easily—the merger acquired a deep investigation from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. Today, the CRTC finalized a decision. And it shocked many.
Bell’s Astral Media takeover threatens Quebec culture
As broadcast regulators review Bell's $3.4B takeover of Astral Media, we've been reviewing how this acquisition would increase telecom prices, saturate Canada's media channels and severely limit consumer choice. Beyond affecting Canadians on a national level, Bell's takeover could take away from Francophone cultural identity, to which Astral Media has long been a prominent supporter. Speak out in telling the CRTC that Bell's increasing vertical integration is bad for all Canadians at StopTheTakeover.ca. Article by Allan Woods for The Toronto Star Quebec revels in few things more than when its artists rise to the top. Think Celine Dion. Think Cirque du Soleil. Think way back even to Mitsou. They are the cream-of-the-crop from a tiny French-speaking society that continues climbing within the seemingly bottomless pitcher that is the world. Think more recently of Academy Award-nominated films like Monsieur Lazhar, Incendies and Barney’s Version. Here, you will find the common link that has Quebec’s actors, writers, directors and technicians — not to mention the newly elected Parti Québécois government — terribly concerned.
CRTC exec who spent evening in Bell box operated in ‘grey area’
An ethics expert is questioning the motives of Canada's broadcast regulators, after it was revealed that the CRTC vice-chairman was a guest in Bell's corporate suite at a hockey game late last year. With the CRTC currently reviewing their decision of Bell's takeover of Astral Media, let's remind them that the best interests of Canadians come first. Sign and share our petition at StopTheTakeover.ca. Article by Danny Joncas for The Toronto Sun Nine months after his appointment as vice-chairman of broadcasting at the Canadian Radio-Television and telecommunications Commission (CRTC), Tom Pentefountas placed himself in an awkward situation by spending an evening in Bell's corporate box at the arena that bears its name. Bell confirmed that Pentefountas attended a Canadiens match at the Bell Centre in the telecom giant's loge on Dec. 8, 2011.
RMR: ‘Swab’ Bell’s takeover of Canadian media
Are you an independent entity or have you become a low-level subsidiary of Bell Media? Rick Mercer helps to show how you can swab the takeover to find out if Bell's expanding reach has taken its effect. Join our StopTheTakeover.ca campaign and let your voice be heard. Together, let's tell our broadcast regulators that the side-effects of Bell's takeover are bad for Canadian choice.
The McGill OpenMedia.ca campus club goes to the Bell/Astral hearing
As part of a larger campaign to spread awareness about communications issues in Canada, we at OpenMedia.ca have been encouraging students at universities and colleges across Canada to run OpenMedia.ca clubs on their campuses. These clubs work on a variety of outreach, organizing, and public education activities—including speaking events, film screenings, hosting educational workshops—but this fall, OpenMedia McGill club started their semester with a bang: they sat in on a part of the CRTC hearing on Bell’s takeover of Astral Media. Here’s what they reported back:
CBC News: Yukon phone outage blamed on aging infrastructure
Bell has made it clear that should their takeover of Astral Media go through, they would use 'tangible benefits' (an owed tax on the $3.4B purchase) to fund the expansion of their subsidiary Northwestel. Having already received annual CRTC payments of $20M to invest in their aging infrastructure, Bell has been criticized for mismanaging funds that could have prevented last week's communications outage. Speak out at StopTheTakeover.ca and help tell the CRTC that Bell's ascending vertical integration is bad for Canadians. Article from CBC News Yukon’s massive communications shutdown Thursday has some thinking it's time to upgrade the territory's aging telecommunications infrastructure. Andrew Robulack, an IT analyst and blogger in Whitehorse, said the latest outage is disappointing but not surprising. "We have a really strong dependency on a really weak infrastructure — single provider in most cases, single network links in or out of our region — and as the CRTC pointed out recently, the equipment is aging,” he said.
VMedia: What Bell’s takeover means for Canadians
The hearings on Bell's $3.4-billion takeover of Astral Media has ended, but we need to make sure we keep speaking out as the CRTC makes its decision as to whether or not the deal will be approved. Join our StopTheTakeover.ca campaign and let your voice be heard in telling our broadcast regulators that Bell's increasing vertical integration is bad for Canadians.
The Globe & Mail: Competition Bureau could step in to stop Bell’s takeover
Canada's Competition Bureau is keeping a close eye on Bell's $3.4-billion takeover of Astral Media, saying that it could strike down the deal even if it passes review by broadcast regulators. Of primary concern is Bell's increasing vertical integration, meaning that it owns both producers of content (networks) and the broadcast infrastructure to deliver it. As the CRTC reviews its decision on Bell's takeover, the time to speak out is now. Sign our petition at StopTheTakeover.ca and let's continue to amplify our voices against this grab for power. Article by Steve Ladurantaye for The Globe & Mail The federal Competition Bureau is “increasingly concerned” that BCE Inc.’s $3.4-billion purchase of Astral Media Inc. would put too much power in the hands of one broadcaster, with the watchdog saying it could strike down the deal even if broadcast regulators allow it to proceed. Competition Commissioner Melanie Aitken said her office paid close attention to the testimony last week as a parade of executives and individuals appeared before the country’s broadcast regulator at a hearing examining whether the deal would ultimately benefit Canadians. She’s not convinced. While all of the bureau’s investigations are done behind closed doors, Ms. Aitken warned she has concerns that go beyond her standard duty to review every large transaction. “We are watching closely,” said Ms. Aitken. “There have been a lot of complaints during the course of our review and we are increasingly concerned about vertical integration and its effect on competition.”
Bell’s Astral Takeover: What’s at Stake?
Bell's escalating vertical integration is raising concern among Canadian citizens and scholars. Should their takeover of Astral Media receive approval by the CRTC, it will tighten Bell's grip on the communications market and limit Canadians with fewer media and telecom choices, higher prices and less opportunity for free speech. As the CRTC continues to review Bell's $3.4B purchase of Astral Media this week, we're continuing to amplify our voices against the deal at StopTheTakeover.ca.
The CRTC made a priority list – We’re checking it twice
The CRTC is making attempts to emphasize affordability, access and a focus on citizen issues with a revised priorities document that was released late last week. By shifting towards an outlook that keeps the best interests of Canadians first and foremost, rather than heeding to corporate industry-defined mandates, the CRTC is recognizing that we should have a say in the future of our communications. This reaction by the CRTC is the result of numerous actions by Canadians nationwide in staying engaged, informed and vocal about these issues. We'll have to ensure that the CRTC isn't trying to simply adopt our language to placate us without following through on these promises – it's up to us to make sure they walk the talk. Let's start this push now with StopTheTakeover.ca and let's tell the CRTC to stop corporate interests from diluting Canadian communications. Article from MichaelGeist.ca The Canadian communications world is focused this week on the proposed merger between Bell and Astral Media as the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission holds its much-anticipated hearing on the issue in Montreal. While the merger takes centre stage, the Commission may have upstaged the process last Thursday by releasing a detailed priorities document that covers the next three years. My weekly technology law column notes that with Jean-Pierre Blais installed as the new CRTC chair and the Conservatives emboldened by majority government, the Commission's priorities send a message of change in Canadian communications policy. The days of emphasizing Canadian content rules or legislative overhauls are over, replaced by a consumer-oriented focus on affordable access to both content and connectivity services.
Financial Post: Bell’s vertical integration hearings begin
CRTC hearings began this morning on Bell's proposed $3.4-billion takeover of Astral Media. If the deal is approved, it would greatly increase Bell's media ownership across Canada's broadcast spectrum – all at the expense of restricting fair market choice and competition for Canadians. The time to unite and speak out against Bell's maneuvering is now. Let the CRTC hear our disapproval by adding your voice to our ongoing campaign at StopTheTakeover.ca. Article by Jamie Sturgeon for Financial Post Odds are near certain you’ve never heard of ViaNetTV, a tiny Toronto-based television startup. And if BCE Inc. gets its way you never will, according to its founder, Alexei Tchernobrivets. For more than a year, ViaNetTV has attempted to negotiate with Bell Media, the sprawling telecom and media conglomerate’s entertainment unit, for the right to carry Bell-owned television channels like Discovery and MuchMusic through its new TV service.
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.
The Globe & Mail: Rogers and Bell to purchase majority stake in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment
Two of Canada's biggest media conglomerates, Bell and Rogers, are partnering up. Their goal? To take control of the iconic Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment group. The CRTC approved the deal yesterday, which includes three TV channels, several sports teams, and even some real estate holdings. With the CRTC giving Big Telecom their blessing for the purchase by saying that 'consumer safeguards' are in place, attention now turns to the impending Bell takeover of Astral to be reviewed next month. Let the CRTC know that Big Telecom's power grab needs to be stopped. Share our Action Plan for a Connected Canada at http://openmedia.ca/plan/action-plan and stay tuned for future updates. Article by Rita Trichur for The Globe & Mail Canada’s broadcast regulator has given its blessing to a $1.3-billion agreement by BCE Inc. and Rogers Communications Inc. to purchase a majority stake in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. While that paves the way for the two rivals to take control of the iconic sports company, the real test of consumer safeguards will come next month, when the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission scrutinizes BCE’s $3.38-billion proposed takeover of Astral Media Inc.
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