Industry disappointment at CRTC approval of BCE/CTV deal

"The CRTC is playing dice with Canadians' communications by allowing these large takeovers," Steve Anderson, OpenMedia.ca's executive director, said in a statement.
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Post-CRTC approval of the BCE/CTV takeover deal, as before, the Canadian industry is counting beans and not liking the sums.

“We’ve come a long way from $0,” ACTRA, the Canadian actors union, said in a statement after BCE received a greenlight to acquire CTV, conditional on spending $245 million over seven years to show benefits for the Canadian industry.

“We’ve come a long way from the start of this process when BCE had the audacity to offer Canadians nothing in return for the privilege of becoming Canada’s largest vertically integrated media conglomerate,” ACTRA national executive director Stephen Waddell insisted.

The CRTC convinced BCE to invest $140 million in new indie programming.

“The bad news is that the CRTC is letting BCE put too much of the public benefits back into their own pockets to cover the costs of doing their business,” Waddell added.

The Canadian Media Production Association, representing indie producers, also criticized the CRTC for allowing a self-serving BCE to spend $60 million to build out its Bell TV service.

There was also disappointment with the benefits package from the Writers Guild of Canada, which urged during recent CRTC hearings into the $3.2
billion transaction, that 85% of the dollars to come from BCE go towards on-screen programming.

In the end, the CRTC made on-screen benefits 70% of the total package, including $100 million for programs of national interest, including dramas and documentaries.

Net neutrality proponents also criticized the CRTC for bowing to the corporate machine as it approved the BCE takeover of CTV hot on the heels of Shaw Communications acquiring the former Canwest Global Communications Corp.’s TV assets.

“The CRTC is playing dice with Canadians’ communications by allowing these large takeovers,” Steve Anderson, OpenMedia.ca’s executive director, said in a statement.

“Canada’s media system is already one of the most highly concentrated in the Western world. Rubber-stamping the Bell-CTV deal makes it clear that the CRTC has not heard the nearly half a million Canadians who are speaking out against big phone and cable companies’ control of our media,” he added.

BCE, for its part, welcomed the regulatory approval for its mega-deal.

“We look forward to welcoming the CTV team to Bell and to accelerating the delivery of the best digital content to Canadians on the screens of their choice through Bell’s world-leading broadband fibre and mobile networks,” George Cope, BCE president and CEO, said in a statement.