CRTC could give Bell control over what Canadians see and hear, says Canada’s largest media democracy network
Vancouver, BC– On September 10, Bell Canada Enterprises (BCE) Inc., already Canada’s largest communications company, announced its plan to acquire 100% of CTV, the nation’s leading broadcaster. Giving Bell control over TV, radio, the internet and telephones without strong rules that protect Canadians’ interests plays dice with Canadians’ access to diverse news and information, says OpenMedia.ca, Canada’s largest network of individuals and organizations concerned about the media.
“The CRTC has approved every major change in ownership in broadcasting for the last fifteen years because it says the competitive marketplace will strengthen broadcast journalism in Canada,” said Steve Anderson, National Coordinator of OpenMedia.ca. “But rubber-stamping deregulation has not worked.”
“The CRTC has always told Canadians that our broadcasting system will improve if it allows these large takeovers,” said Anderson. “But in the last three years it has allowed Canada’s largest local TV broadcasters to cut local programming and close stations. And last year, it let them spend $233 million more on foreign TV programs, than on Canadian programs. “
“What’s worse,” continued Anderson, “is that the CRTC has stood by while broadcasters have laid off almost four thousand people. If this is what the CRTC calls strengthening our broadcasting system, I’d hate to see what a weakened system would look like.”
Canada's media system is already one of the most highly concentrated in the Western world. Five companies currently own the majority of private television stations, and only three companies own the majority of newspapers in Canada.
Bell will need regulatory approval for their $1.3 billion purchase of CTV’s 31 specialty television stations, 30 over-the-air television stations, 2 television networks, and 37 radio stations.
OpenMedia expects the CRTC to ask for Canadians’ comment within the next six months, and will be demanding strong regulatory initiatives from the CRTC to serve the public interest.
“The private interest will look after itself,” Anderson pointed out. “But Parliament created the CRTC to serve your interests and mine.”
Communications Manager, OpenMedia
OpenMedia.ca is a national, non-partisan, non-profit public engagement organization working to advance and support an open and innovative communications system in Canada. Our primary goal is to increase public awareness and informed participation in Canadian media, cultural, information, and telecommunication policy formation.
Click here for supporting data, courtesy of ML Auer, Interconnected Legal Research and Policy Analysis.