CRTC approves BCE's bid to acquire Astral's television and radio services

CRTC approves BCE's bid to acquire Astral's television and radio services 
Conditions imposed will ensure the transaction benefits Canadians and the 
Canadian broadcasting system 
OTTAWA-GATINEAU, June 27, 2013 /CNW/ - Today, the Canadian Radio-television 
and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) approved an application by Astral 
Media Inc. to sell its pay and specialty television channels, conventional 
television stations and radio stations to BCE Inc. The CRTC's approval comes 
with a number of conditions that are necessary to uphold the public interest. 
"Astral's application put forward a different approach and responded to many 
of our concerns" said Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman of the CRTC. "Yet there 
remained a significant risk that BCE could exert its market power to limit 
choice and competition. To ensure the public interest is served, we are 
requiring BCE to invest in new Canadian programming and sell more than a dozen 
services, and we are putting in place a number of competitive safeguards. This 
will maintain a healthy and competitive broadcasting system that offers more 
programming choices to Canadian consumers and citizens and more opportunities 
for Canadian creators." 
A healthy and competitive broadcasting system 
The scale of the newly consolidated entity will facilitate the creation of 
diverse and high-quality Canadian programming in both languages and its 
distribution through conventional and digital media distribution channels. The 
CRTC is taking action to ensure Canadians reap the full benefits of this 
transaction. This includes making sure that Canadians have access to a healthy 
and competitive broadcasting system, in which independent broadcasters and 
distributors are treated fairly by large, integrated companies. 
The application filed in agreement with the Competition Bureau included a 
proposal to sell 10 radio stations and 11television services as well as 
certain restrictions, such as a prohibition on imposing restrictive bundling 
requirements on providers. The CRTC's decision builds on the Competition 
Bureau's assessment and includes specific measures to attenuate concerns 
related to competition, ownership concentration in the television and radio 
markets, vertical integration and the exercise of market power in the 
communications system. 
Following the divestitures, BCE's share of the French-language television 
market will be 22.6 per cent. Consumers in this market will benefit from a 
more competitive landscape. In the English-language market, its share will be 
35.8 per cent, which required a careful examination of this transaction's 
impact on the broadcasting system. 
As a result, the Commission has put in place further measures to address 
potential anti-competitive behaviour, to maintain a dynamic marketplace and to 
ensure Canadian listeners and viewers will continue to have access to a 
diversity of voices in the market. Among other things, BCE must: 


    --  adhere, as a condition of licence, to certain sections of the
        CRTC's code of conduct for commercial arrangements that limit
        potential anti-competitive behaviour and ensure fair treatment
        for independent programming services and distributors
    --  not unduly withhold non-linear rights from competing
        distributors, even if BCE is not exploiting such rights itself
    --  provide reasonable access to advertising opportunities on its
        radio stations to all competitors
    --  file with the CRTC affiliation agreements with programming
        services and television distributors
    --  enter into a CRTC-supervised dispute resolution process if an
        affiliation agreement is not reached 120 days before the expiry
        date of the existing agreement.

More choice for consumers and citizens, opportunities for creators

BCE will be required to invest $246.9 million in tangible benefits over the 
next seven years, which is $72 million more than it had proposed. This amount 
reflects the CRTC's revised value of the transaction, as well as the size and 
exceptional nature of the transaction.

In particular, BCE must spend $175.4 million on initiatives related to the 
television sector, which is equivalent to 10 per cent of the value of Astral's 
television services. These investments will notably result in the creation of 
original Canadian dramas, comedies, documentaries and award shows by 
independent producers. BCE will also support youth programming and initiatives 
designed to promote Canadian content on multiple platforms. A portion of 
programming expenditures will be reserved for official-language minority 
communities in each language.

Additionally, BCE will be required to support the development, production and 
promotion of Canadian feature films, notably through additional contributions 
to the Harold Greenberg Fund and Telefilm Canada, financial support of 
Canadian film festivals and initiatives to promote Canadian feature films.

BCE must also spend $71.5 million on initiatives related to the radio sector, 
which is equivalent to 7 per cent of the value of Astral's radio stations. The 
company will provide funding to not-for-profit organizations that contribute 
to the growth and development of the Canadian music industry, help launch the 
careers of emerging artists and support campus and community radio stations.

This transaction will therefore enable the Canadian creative industries to 
innovate and contribute to the creation of more original programming for 
Canadian and global audiences.

Local programming

The CRTC is also ensuring that Canadians in 29 markets across the country 
continue to have access to local programming on television, including local 
news and information. BCE must keep open all of its existing local television 
stations, as well as the two stations it has acquired from Astral, at least 
until 2017. BCE must also maintain the stations' current levels of local 
programming during this period.

CKGM Montréal

Finally, the CRTC is allowing BCE to operate four English-language radio 
stations in the Montreal market, including CKGM. Given the strong support 
expressed by Montreal's English-language minority community for this station, 
BCE will have to maintain its current sports format for at least seven years. 
This decision constitutes a positive measure that will ensure the needs of the 
community are well served.

Corporate reorganization

The CRTC also approved two corporate reorganizations - one within Astral and 
the other within BCE - which are necessary to finalize the transaction.

Today's decision follows a proceeding that included a public hearing, which 
was held from May 6 to 10, 2013. The CRTC received more than 800 interventions 
during this public proceeding, as well as two petitions totalling more than 
16,000 signatures.

Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2013-310 Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2013-309 
Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2013-308 Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 
2013-106

The CRTC

The CRTC is an administrative tribunal that regulates and supervises 
broadcasting and telecommunications in Canada.  

Additional information on the CRTC's decision

i) List of services purchased

French-language pay and specialty television

Canal D
Canal Vie
CINÉPOP
Super Écran
VRAK.TV
Ztélé

English-language pay and specialty television

The Movie Network
TMN Encore
Viewer's Choice Canada (DTH)
Viewer's Choice Canada (Terr.)

English-language conventional television

CFTK-TV Terrace, BC
CJDC-TV Dawson Creek, BC

French-language radio

CFVM-FM Amqui, QC
CFIX-FM Chicoutimi, QC
CJAB-FM Chicoutimi, QC
CHRD-FM Drummondville, QC
CJDM-FM Drummondville, QC
CIMO-FM Magog, QC
CITE-FM Montréal, QC
CKMF-FM Montréal, QC
CHIK-FM Québec, QC
CITF-FM Québec, QC
CIKI-FM Rimouski, QC
CJOI-FM Rimouski, QC
CJMM-FM Rouyn-Noranda, QC
CFZZ-FM Saint-Jean-Iberville, QC
CITE-FM-1 Sherbrooke, QC
CFEI-FM St-Hyacinthe, QC
CHEY-FM Trois-Rivières, QC
CIGB-FM Trois-Rivières, QC
CJMV-FM Val d'Or, QC
CIMF-FM Ottawa-Gatineau, ON-QC
CKTF-FM Ottawa-Gatineau, ON-QC

English-language radio

CJDC-AM Dawson Creek, BC
CKRX-FM Fort Nelson, BC
CHRX-FM Fort St. John, BC
CKNL-FM Fort St. John, BC
CKGR-FM Golden, BC
CHSU-FM Kelowna, BC
CILK-FM Kelowna, BC
CKFR-AM Kelowna, BC
CKTK-FM Kitimat, BC
CKKC-FM Nelson, BC
CJOR-AM Osoyoos, BC
CJMG-FM Penticton, BC
CKOR-AM Penticton, BC
CHTK-FM Prince Rupert, BC
CIOR-AM Princeton, BC
CKCR-FM Revelstoke, BC
CKXR-FM Salmon Arm, BC
CHOR-FM Summerland, BC
CJFW-FM Terrace, BC
CFTK-AM Terrace, BC
CJAT-FM Trail, BC
CICF-FM Vernon, BC
CIBK-FM Calgary, AB
CJAY-FM Calgary, AB
CKMX-AM Calgary, AB
CFBR-FM Edmonton, AB
CFMG-FM Edmonton, AB
CFRN-AM Edmonton, AB
CHBD-FM Regina, SK
CKX-FM Brandon, MB
CKXA-FM Brandon, MB
CKMM-FM Winnipeg, MB
CKLH-FM Hamilton, ON
CHAM-AM Hamilton, ON
CKOC-AM Hamilton, ON
CIQM-FM London, ON
CJBX-FM London, ON
CJBK-AM London, ON
CKSL-AM London, ON
CHVR-FM Pembroke, ON
CKFM-FM Toronto, ON
CFRB-AM Toronto, ON
CHRE-FM St. Catharines, ON
CHTZ-FM St. Catharines, ON
CKTB-AM St. Catharines, ON
CHOM-FM Montréal, QC
CJFM-FM Montréal, QC
CJAD-AM Montréal, QC
CKBC-FM Bathurst, NB
CFXY-FM Fredericton, NB
CIBX-FM Fredericton, NB
CKHJ-AM Fredericton, NB
CIKX-FM Grand Falls, NB
CJCJ-FM Woodstock, NB
CKTO-FM Truro, NS
CKTY-FM Truro, NS

ii) List of services that must be divested

French-language television

Disney Junior
Historia
MusiquePlus
MusiMax
Séries+
Teletoon/Télétoon*
Télétoon Rétro

English-language television

Cartoon Network
DisneyXD
Teletoon/Télétoon*
Teletoon Retro
The Family Channel

English-language radio

CHHR-FM Vancouver, BC
CISL Vancouver, BC
CKZZ-FM Vancouver, BC
CKCE-FM Calgary, AB
CHIQ-FM Winnipeg, MB
CFQX-FM Selkirk, MB
CFXJ-FM Toronto, ON
CHBM-FM Toronto, ON
CJOT-FM Ottawa-Gatineau, ON-QC
CKQB-FM Ottawa-Gatineau, ON-QC

* Teletoon and Télétoon are feeds of the English- and French-language 
specialty service known as Teletoon/Télétoon.

iii) List of television stations BCE must keep in operation until at least 2017

English-language conventional television

CIVT- DT Vancouver, BC
CIVI-DT Victoria, BC
CFTK-TV Terrace, BC
CJDC-TV Dawson Creek, BC
CFCN- DT Calgary, AB
CFCN-DT-5 Lethbridge, AB
CFRN- DT Edmonton, AB
CFRN-TV-6 Red Deer, AB
CFQC- DT Saskatoon, SK
CICC-TV Yorkton, SK
CIPA-TV Prince Albert, SK
CKCK- DT Regina, SK
CKY- DT Winnipeg, MB
CFPL-DT London, ON
CFTO-DT Toronto, ON
CHBX-TV Sault Ste. Marie, ON
CHRO-TV Pembroke, ON
CHRO-DT-43 Ottawa, ON
CJOH-DT Ottawa, ON
CHWI- DT Wheatley, ON
CICI-TV Sudbury, ON
CITO-TV Timmins, ON
CKCO- DT Kitchener, ON
CKNY-TV North Bay, ON
CKVR- DT Barrie, ON
CFCF-DT Montréal, QC
CKCW-DT Moncton, NB
CKLT-DT Saint John, NB
CJCB-TV Sydney, NS
CJCH-DT Halifax, NS

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SOURCE: Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

To view this news release in HTML formatting, please use the following URL: 
http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/June2013/27/c4048.html

CO: Government of Canada
ST: Quebec
NI: TLS RADIO TVNEWS MNA 

-0- Jun/27/2013 20:00 GMT


 
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