OpenMedia calls on ISED Minister to condemn Rogers Shaw deal
Minister Champagne’s renewal was approved on Tuesday in the midst of the biggest telecom merger in Canadian history.
OCTOBER 28, 2021 — OpenMedia is calling on Innovation, Science, and Industry of Canada Minister François-Philippe Champagne to explicitly oppose Rogers’ bid to purchase Shaw Communications. The Minister was reappointed to this role Tuesday morning, once again making him the lead official in charge of approving or rejecting the deal.
Rogers Communications announced its plans to buy Shaw Communications, Canada’s 4th largest telecom provider, earlier this year. If successful, the $26B acquisition will take Canada from 4 to 3 national wireless providers, and give Rogers a nearly national monopoly on cable TV and internet infrastructure. Minister Champagne has previously stated that consumer affordability is the primary concern for ISED as they review the merger in tandem with the Competition Bureau and the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). However, it remains unclear if the Minister intends to intervene, or relegate all responsibility for the deal.
“The Minister can’t put this off any longer – he has a critical decision to make,” said OpenMedia Executive Director Laura Tribe. “He can either side with Canadian customers and a more competitive future for Canada’s telecommunications market, or choose to prioritize the financial interests of a dueling family at the expense of thousands of jobs, and any hope of affordable connectivity in Canada. If this deal goes through, it is a direct message from our government that private industry concerns trump public needs. We desperately need more choice in our telecom market. It is the only way to increase access and drive down prices – but this deal will do the exact opposite. If Minister Champagne allows this deal to go through, he will forever be remembered as the Minister that killed any chance of affordable Internet in Canada. We’re hoping he’ll stand with people in Canada, and make the right choice. He must reject this deal.”
Canada already pays some of the highest cell phone prices in the world – customers simply cannot afford the inevitable increase in prices that will result, should the deal be approved, OpenMedia has been calling for government leaders to put an end to the merger since it was announced – but especially in the wake of the growing internal conflict unfolding at the Rogers board, regarding the future of the company’s leadership.
Earlier this year, OpenMedia and other advocacy groups delivered over 61,000 signatures to the federal government calling on policymakers to block the Rogers-Shaw deal. Additionally, over 81,000 petition signers have separately called on the government to revert the CRTC’s Internet wholesale rates to their lower 2019 levels.
OpenMedia is currently accepting submissions on how the merger will affect consumers. Concerned individuals have until Friday to submit their testimonies to the Competition Bureau.