Competition Bureau seeks to block Rogers-Shaw buyout
ISED Minister Champagne must join the Bureau and kill the deal.
MAY 9, 2022 — Today the Competition Bureau announced their plan to oppose the $26Bn buyout of Shaw Communications by Rogers Communications, pending since March 2021. In their announcement, the Bureau pointed out Shaw’s role as a key telecom market disruptor in lowering prices and innovating on services offered to Canadians, and that Bell and Telus are not motivated to compete with Rogers on similar terms. The Bureau has requested a delay on closing the deal through July while they argue their case to Canada’s Competition Tribunal.
“Today the Competition Bureau did their job; they see this deal is terrible news for Canadians, and they’re taking steps to block it,” said OpenMedia Campaigns Director Matt Hatfield. “Shaw is the most successful competitor to the Big Three that Canada has ever had. Unfortunately, today’s decision doesn’t kill the deal — there’s still a good chance it could squeak through the Tribunal process. Only one person could kill this deal for good, and that’s Innovation, Science, and Economic Development (ISED) Minister François-Phillipe Champagne. We’re calling on the Minister to stand with the Bureau and announce he will not approve the transfer of spectrum from Shaw to Rogers under any circumstances. The last thing that inflation-stressed Canadian families need is a reckless and damaging buyout that will make their affordability crisis worse.”
“Rumours suggest that Rogers is exploring spinning off Freedom Mobile to make the deal work; but selling Freedom doesn’t fix this deal,” continued Hatfield. “Firstly, Shaw has also played a key role in lowering prices and introducing new services on home Internet, and we’ll still be losing that. Secondly, as the Bureau pointed out, much of Freedom’s growth and success happened after Shaw’s acquisition of Freedom. The bundled Internet and wireless services Shaw provides are very attractive to consumers and will likely disappear. As a result, a spun-off Freedom will likely struggle to provide the same competitive pressure on the Big Three without that bundling. Only fully blocking the Rogers-Shaw deal will protect Canadians from higher prices, poorer quality services, and fewer choices.”
The Bureau’s announcement contrasts with the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)’s March 2022 ruling to approve the broadcasting portion of the sale, which claimed the buyout was in the best interest of Canadians. The Competition Bureau must now present its case to the Competition Tribunal, which will decide whether to block the deal.
Since March 2021, OpenMedia and other advocacy groups have delivered over 70,000 signatures and comments to the federal government calling on policymakers to block the Rogers-Shaw deal. OpenMedia will shortly launch a new community petition calling on MPs to voice their concerns over the buyout and ask Minister Champagne to block it.