Significant Divestitures in Bell-Astral Merger to Preserve Competition

Significant Divestitures in Bell-Astral Merger to Preserve Competition 
OTTAWA, ONTARIO -- (Marketwire) -- 03/04/13 -- The Competition Bureau
announced today that, following an extensive review of BCE Inc.'s
(Bell) proposed acquisition of Astral Media Inc. (Astral), it has
reached an agreement with Bell that preserves competition in the
supply of English and French pay and specialty television programming
services in Canada. 
Under the terms of the Consent Agreement filed with the Competition
Tribunal today, Bell must divest itself of Astral's ownership
interests in the following pay and specialty television channels: The
Family Channel, Teletoon, Teletoon Retro, Disney XD, the Cartoon
Network, Disney Jr. (English and French), Historia, Series+,
Teletoon, Teletoon Retro, MusiquePlus and Musimax. Additionally, the
Consent Agreement contains restrictions on Bell, including a
prohibition on imposing restrictive bundling requirements on any
provider seeking to carry The Movie Network or Super Ecran. 
"Consumers who pay for television programming are looking for greater
choice, more innovative product offerings, and reasonable prices,"
said John Pecman, Interim Commissioner. "Today's agreement is
essential to preserving choice for consumers and ensuring continued
and effective competition in this area."  
During its review, the Bureau collected and analyzed a large volume
of information from the parties and many third parties. In addition,
multiple industry participants were interviewed, including: owners of
television programming services; cable, satellite and wireless
service providers; media buying agencies; and consumer groups. The
Bureau determined that, without this Consent Agreement, Bell's
acquisition of Astral's pay and specialty television channels would
likely have led to increased prices, less innovation and reduced
choice for television programming.  
Bell has also indicated that it will divest itself of a number of
radio stations to comply with the Canadian Radio-television
Telecommunications Commission's (CRTC) Common Ownership Policy. The
Bureau is satisfied that these proposed divestitures are sufficient
to ensure the transaction will not result in a substantial lessening
or prevention of competition in any radio market. 
The proposed transaction is still subject to review by the CRTC. 
For further information on the Bureau's review of this matter, please
consult the fact sheet and backgrounder. 
A copy of the Consent Agreement will be available shortly on the
Competition Tribunal Web site. 
The Competition Bureau, as an independent law enforcement agency,
ensures that Canadian businesses and consumers prosper in a
competitive and innovative marketplace.
Contacts:
For media enquiries, please contact:
Media Relations
819-994-5945
media@cb-bc.gc.ca 
For general enquiries, please contact:
Information Centre
Competition Bureau
819-997-4282 or Toll free: 1-800-348-5358
TTY (hearing impaired): 1-800-642-3844
www.competitionbureau.gc.ca
 
 
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