Over 61,000 petition signers call on federal government to block Rogers-Shaw buyout
Joint civil society statement warns of higher prices and less consumer choice if Rogers is allowed to buy competitor Shaw.
May 7, 2021 — Today, 7 civil society organizations issued a joint statement calling on the federal government to step in and block Rogers from buying out Shaw, as well as Shaw’s wireless subsidiary Freedom Mobile. The statement comes in response to Rogers’ recent announcement of its plans to buy out Canada’s 4th-largest wireless carrier, in a deal estimated to be worth close to $26 billion. Civil society petitions against the deal have now gathered over 61,000 signatures in the weeks since the planned buyout was announced, as public opposition has continued to build.
For years, people in Canada have paid some of the highest prices in the world for Internet and wireless connectivity. The joint statement argues the deal will make Canada’s affordable connectivity woes even worse by consolidating providers in a market already dominated by just a handful of giants.
The recent history of telecom buyouts in Canada supports the statement’s concern. In 2017, Bell purchased regional provider MTS in Manitoba; despite a Competition Bureau analysis that suggested it would likely reduce competition, the Bureau approved the deal, and Bell-MTS raised their rates.
Shaw appears confident the government will approve their deal with Rogers. On April 7, Shaw voluntarily bowed out of the upcoming wireless spectrum auction, with serious potential impact on the future growth of its subsidiary, Freedom Mobile, outside of a successful Rogers-Shaw buyout.
This is not the first time in recent months advocates have called on the government to reign in telecom giants and stand up for wireless competition. In March, petitions calling on Rogers, Bell and Telus to pay back the $243.8 million in Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) funds they collected from the federal government in 2020, despite their strong financial performance, garnered over 26,000 signatures. In April, the CRTC came under fire from advocates for its decision to reject introducing new mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) — non-facilities based wireless service providers — to Canada, a move that reinforces unaffordable cell phone prices.
All eyes will now be on the Competition Bureau and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Champagne, whose job it will be to evaluate the impact of further concentration of market and spectrum in Canada into still fewer hands.
Active campaign actions opposing the deal:
“Allowing this buyout is the worst possible thing the government could do right now for Internet and wireless affordability. We need prices to go down, not up. We need more choice of providers, not less. It’s clear that the only ones who benefit from this sale are Rogers and Shaw. So which side is Minister Champagne on — with Canadians, or Big Telecom? It comes down to where he stands on this deal.” - Laura Tribe, Executive Director of OpenMedia.
“Working-class Canadians struggle with some of the most expensive mobile rates in the world, while our telecom companies reap massive profits. If the federal government is committed to making life more affordable, they’ll do the right thing and stop this proposed merger.” - Geoff Sharpe, Director at North99
“The Rogers/Shaw merger is a clear monopolistic action, and must be blocked to protect consumers from further exploitation. We call on the Prime Minister to stop this merger, and begin the process of providing a nationalized telecom service, committed to providing Canadians with an affordable solution available to ALL Canadians.” - Justice Internationale
“The Fees Are Too Damn High Party notes that Canadian telecom fees are too damn high due to what appears to be a telecom cartel suppressing competition. We call on the government to kill the Roger-Shaw merger and stand against attempts to further limit service options for communities. The fees are already too damn high.” - The Fees Are Too Damn High Party
Executive Director, OpenMedia
1 (888) 441-2640 ext. 2
Operations Committee, Justice Internationale
Coordinator, The Fees Are Too Damn High Party