CRTC briefs on BCE takeover of CTV

BCE isn't making many friends as it looks to get its takeover of CTVglobemedia approved by the CRTC at upcoming hearings.
CRTC

BCE isn’t making many friends as it looks to get its takeover of CTVglobemedia approved by the CRTC at upcoming hearings.

“Most of what BCE is proposing as benefits are really benefits for BCE ­to cover infrastructure costs such as conversion of facilities to HD production – and that’s not what the CRTC policy is about,” Maureen Parker, executive director of the Writers Guild of Canada said in a brief to the CRTC that echoed a common theme among industry creators.

The Canadian Media Production Association, representing major indie producers, also took aim at BCE’s contention that tangible benefits are not payable as a result of this transaction.

“The benefits package proposed by BCE represents a very significant departure from the CRTC’s long-standing tangible benefits policy. It is also extremely self-serving and very largely focused on activities that are normal capital expenditures for such a company,” CMPA CEO Norm Bolen, told the regulator in a pre-hearings submission.

The producers said that at least 85% of overall tangible benefits must go to creating Canadian programming.

If approved, the CTV takeover will hand BCE control of Canada’s largest TV network for the second time, and provide the phone giant with content to push down its varied consumer platforms, including wireless phone.

Cogeco Cable called for safeguards to be imposed on BCE in its own brief to the CRTC, to guard against market abuses as the phone giant takes over CTV and possibly denies content to rival distributors.

“The proposed level of concentration and vertical integration that would result from the proposed transaction risks compromising the CRTC’s fundamental objectives for the Canadian communications industry of universal access to services, diversity of choice and content and ultimately affordable prices for Canadian consumers,” Louis Audet, Cogeco president and CEO, told the CRTC in its submission.