This week, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission conducts five days of hearings into BCE Inc.’s purchase of Astral Media Inc.
You can follow the hearings in one of the following ways:
- In person: The hearings take place at Hôtel Gouverneur Place Dupuis, 1415 St. Hubert St., corner Ste. Catherine St. They are open to the public, though the CRTC is asking journalists who would like to film the proceedings to talk to them first. Headsets for simultaneous translation can be borrowed on site.
- Online video streaming: CPAC is filming the proceedings. The activities of the House of Commons and its committees take priority over CRTC hearings, so these won’t be broadcast on CPAC’s cable channel. But they will be live online. You can watch here: English, French, no translation
- Online audio streaming: The CRTC does its own streaming of its hearings, though these are audio-only. Listen here: English, French, no translation
- Twitter: The CRTC posts documents of presentations on its Twitter account, @CRTCHearings. You can also follow live reports from the hearings from me, the Globe and Mail’s Steve Ladurantaye, Cartt.ca’s Greg O’Brien and others using the hashtags #CRTC and #BellAstral
- Transcripts: They’re posted here the day after each hearing. Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4
Here are some links that will help you understand what’s going on:
- The agenda: Day 1 (Monday) is reserved for Bell to make its case and commissioners to ask questions. Days 2, 3 and 4 (Tuesday to Thursday) will be presentations by third parties, some in favour, some against, and others just making comments. Day 5 (Friday) will be Bell’s reply to those comments from the previous three days.
- The notice of hearing: This breaks down, in legal terms, what this application is. It also includes a link to the application itself (.zip)
- The interventions: Every comment from a third party filed with the CRTC is listed here. Some of these will also make oral presentations, but most won’t. The site also has Bell’s reply to those interventions.
- The press release from the Competition Bureau approving of Bell’s Astral takeover with modifications
- My explanation of those modifications
- Pro Bell: Bell’s press release outlining the promises it has made in relation to this application, and its Canadians Deserve More website with its ask-what-you-want Questions page.
- Anti Bell: Statements from OpenMedia.ca and Cogeco, and an opinion piece in La Presse
- The CRTC’s decision denying the first application last year
- My analysis of the major points of the proposal, the breakdown of the tangible benefits plan, the pros and cons of an exemption for CKGM (TSN 690), and Bell’s radio divestment plan
- Day 1: A thorough rundown from Cartt.ca; Canadian Press; Financial Post; Globe and Mail
- Day 2: The Globe on presentations from PIAC and Rogers, and later on Rogers’s plan for a Netflix competitor; Canadian Press on Rogers’s interest in The Movie Network; Financial Post; Canada.com on the presentation of music artist Suzie McNeil
- Day 3: The Canadian Press on Cogeco, the Financial Post on Eastlink’s dire future if the deal is approved
I really hope Steve that Jean-Pierre Blais stays strong again…he’s gotta say no this, and I were him, I’d be pissed off that Bell went around him with the competition Bureau..which is what that was: an end-run..
They talk about more money for Canadian programming, but it doesn’t say local..Can’t Bell see that Rogers bit by bit adding more local shows..CTV Montreal, CFCF used to produce more local shows than all CTV affiliates.
And the TSN thing, all they wanna do there is keep a clear channel frequency…Aren’t there other companies that Astral could sell to..I am tired of getting bullied by Bell..from what you see in this application, is there or do you see grounds for CRTC to say NO, which they really must..I am so frustrated with this Bell thing and mad at myself for neglecting the deadline for a submission as I wanted to appear in person.
There’s no end-run here. The Competition Bureau and CRTC are separate bodies, and Bell needs approval from both for this transaction to go through. The fact that it has Competition Bureau support does not mean automatic CRTC approval, and vice-versa.
Bell hasn’t made promises about more local programming on television. It has, however, promised to keep money-losing CTV Two stations running until 2017.
Even counting the recently announced weekly arts program (whose permanence is not assured), City TV Montreal would only have 16 hours a week of local programming. CTV Montreal has the same.
And the station that’s on it. If it wanted the frequency for a different format, it would have changed formats already, no?
Sure. But there’s no guarantee other companies would maintain the all-sports format, especially because it’s a money-loser.
The CRTC could reject the deal for the same reason it did the last time: They don’t feel it benefits the broadcasting system. But that’s up to them to decide.
How soon after hearings do you think there will be a final decision?
How long did they take to knock it down last time?
Probably one to three months. But that’s entirely up to the CRTC. They don’t have a deadline.
The hearing was Sept. 10-14, and the decision released Oct. 18. That’s just over a month. Doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be as fast this time. It’s easy to just say no. It’s harder to say “yes, but”
I say early June. The added divestitures already part of the re-application dealt with the broader issues that needed to be reviewed the last time around. This time it’s really down to TMN and TSN 690 (the latter being not-so-complicated to decide since it’s pretty clear that Bell doesn’t seem to be considering it anywhere near the “make-or-break” like TMN). Can’t see wholesale pricing issues, arbitration, etc. being any part of the this ruling outside of whether to hold hearings related to those specifics later nor can I see Blais (especially) and company wanting to spend another whole summer micro-analyzing this file. If I’m wrong on timing, don’t make me wear a Sens shirt! :)
You know, I’m watching some of this (and when the camera is on Mirko Bibic, you’re in view, Steve :P) and, unless I’ve gone mad, the whole thing sounds like a re-run of the first hearing.
I think the chances of this being approved aren’t that good.