Cogeco Cable Inc. Urges CRTC to Reject Proposed Bell/Astral Deal, Once and For
MONTREAL, QUEBEC -- (Marketwired) -- 04/08/13 -- Cogeco Cable Inc.
(TSX:CCA) ("Cogeco") today announced its full opposition to the
application by Astral Media Inc.("Astral") to the CRTC for authority
to transfer its effective control, and control of its licensed
broadcasting subsidiaries, to BCE Inc. ("BCE") and to complete
related corporate reorganizations. Cogeco's opposition is based on
the same concerns raised in its submission filed in the proceeding
leading to the Commission's October 18, 2012 decision to reject BCE's
proposed acquisition of Astral (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2012-547).
Astral's application does not fix the major flaws that were then
identified by the Commission. As was the case in BCE's 2012
application, Astral's applications would give BCE unprecedented
market power that could not be constrained through regulatory
safeguards, whether administered by the Commission or the
Commissioner of Competition. Nothing in the intervening months has
brought about new revelations that would allow the Commission to
overlook these major flaws or seek to remedy them through regulatory
means, and the Commission's fundamental reason's for denying the
previous application apply equally to the current application.
Astral's application raises the same very substantial concerns
"related to competition, ownership concentration in television and
radio, vertical integration and the exercise of market power" as were
noted in Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2012-574 denying the previous
Below is an overview of Cogeco's arguments supporting a definitive
denial of the proposed transaction by the CRTC :
-- BCE is already Canada's largest vertically-integrated provider of
broadcasting and telecommunications services.
-- The television audience threshold in the CRTC's Diversity of Voices
policy is not in itself a sufficient tool to measure the public interest
in the presence of broader policy concerns created by the proposed
transfer of control of Astral to BCE, taking into account the current
state of the industry and BCE's overwhelming position within it.
-- BCE already holds too large a share in the broadcasting sector following
the acquisition of CTV and of a major ownership interest in Maple Leaf
Sports and Entertainment ("MLSE").
-- BCE has the opportunity and the incentive to abuse its dominance in the
supply of content to the detriment of competition and Canadian
-- BCE's opportunity and incentive to abuse its dominance in the supply of
content will be further enhanced by extending its control of program
rights for exhibition in Canada to Hollywood movies and American popular
television series from HBO and Showtime, plus extensive rights to live
sports programming, in both English and French, throughout Canada and on
-- It would be excessively complex, burdensome, costly and ineffective in
the end to try to discipline Bell's overwhelming market power through
regulatory measures, whether from the Competition Bureau or from the
-- The Canadian broadcasting and communications market is highly
concentrated among four vertically integrated companies (BCE, Shaw,
Rogers, QMI), and it is already the most highly concentrated among the
G8 countries. The proposed divestitures would not decrease the level of
concentration in the Canadian market. Instead, they would further
increase and entrench the market dominance of BCE and Shaw by shifting
most of the assets of the formerly independent Astral to BCE and Shaw's
-- Over and above the anticompetitive practices already noted since the
acquisition by BCE of the extensive television and radio properties of
CTV, BCE's proposed acquisition of Astral gives rise to a further and
exceptionally high risk of systemic anticompetitive behaviour to the
detriment of rival distributors, Canadian consumers and the Canadian
broadcasting system at large.
-- Canadian consumers of television entertainment can only expect rising
costs for their viewing options on fixed and mobile platforms, more
forced packaging of BCE services and less choice in the selection of
services they actually wish to use.
-- Consumer organizations continue to vigorously oppose the proposed
takeover of Astral by BCE.
-- The proposed takeover of Astral by BCE is not necessary and clearly not
in the public interest.
-- The CRTC is in no way constrained or bound by the deal made between the
Commissioner of Competition and BCE behind closed doors.
Cogeco affirms that, as was the case with the previous application by
BCE, 's application, the Commission must reject Astral's application
based on the public interest, and do so in the clearest and most
definitive terms so as to avoid further attempts by Astral or by BCE
to complete the proposed transaction.
Cogeco has asked to appear at the CRTC public hearing scheduled to
begin on May 6, 2013 in Montreal.
To access Cogeco's intervention filed with the CRTC, please visit the
CRTC's broadcasting public hearings (BD 2013-106) at
http://crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2013/2013-106.htm or visit
ABOUT COGECO CABLE
Cogeco Cable (www.cogeco.ca) is a telecommunications corporation and
is the11th largest hybrid fibre coaxial cable operator in North
America operating in Canada under the Cogeco Cable brand name in
Quebec and Ontario, and in the United States through its subsidiary
Atlantic Broadband in Western Pennsylvania, South Florida, Maryland,
Delaware and South Carolina. Its two-way broadband cable networks
provide to its residential and small business customers Analogue and
Digital Television, High Speed Internet ("HSI") and Telephony
services. Through its subsidiaries Cogeco Data Services and PEER 1
Hosting, Cogeco Cable provides its commercial customers a suite of IT
hosting, information and communications technology services (Data
Centre, Co-location, Managed Hosting, Cloud Infrastructure and
Connectivity), with 23 data centres, extensive fibre networks in
Montreal and Toronto as well as points-of-presence in North America
and Europe. Cogeco Cable's subordinate voting shares are listed on
the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX:CCA). For more information about
Cogeco Cable and its subsidiaries visit cogeco.ca, cogecodata.com,
peer1.com and peer1hosting.co.uk.
Vice President, Public Affairs &, Communications
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