Proposed Merger of Bell & Astral (BNC CRTC 2012-370 & 2013-106)

In BNC CRTC 2012-370, the CRTC examined whether the proposed merger of Bell Communications and Astral Media is in the public interest. CIPPIC (on behalf of joined the Public Interest Advocacy Centre and many other consumer groups in urging the CRTC to oppose this proposed merger on the grounds that the resulting conglomerate would have wide-ranging market power and control that may have significant downstream impacts for consumer protection and choice, for prices of telecommunications and media services, and innovation. CIPPIC/'s submission, which was largely supportive of and supplementary to PIAC's, focused on examining competitive and consumer harms that arise when vertical integration, convergence and market concentration are combined in the specific context of telecommunications and media providers.

On October 18, 2012, the CRTC issued Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2012-574, in which it listened to consumer voices and denied Bell's proposed merger.

On March 4, 2013, the Competition Bureau, which must also approve provide prior approval for any merger of this kind, approved a heavily modified merger, in which it compelled Bell to divest a significant portion of Astral's holdings, as well as to accept, in a consent agreement, to restrictions on its conduct aimed to secure competition. This second merger included a commitment by Bell to divest several of Astral's channels, which will be purchased by Shaw/Corus instead.

On March 6, 2013, the CRTC issued Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2013-106, which will examine Bell's new proposal to merge with Astral in order to see if it will be to the benefit of the Canadian public in light of the objectives of the Broadcasting Act. In its written intervention in this second attempt, CIPPIC/ called upon the Commission to once again reject Bell/Astral's merger proposal in spite of the significant divestitures and protections imposed by the Competition Bureau. CIPPIC/'s position is premised on the fact that this merger, regardless of divestitures, will signal the end of substantial, non-integrated media production in Canada and raise a broad range of harms that will require significant regulatory intervention in the future in order to address if Broadcasting and Telecommunications objectives such as customer choice, online innovation and diversity of voices are to be secured in the future.

CRTC Documents

Second CRTC Proceeding:

  • Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2013-106, March 6, 2013
  • Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2013-310, June 27, 2013

First CRTC Proceeding:

CIPPIC Written Submissions

Second CRTC Proceeding

First CRTC Proceeding:

Other Resources:

  • PIAC's Initial Comments, BNC CRTC 2012-370 (first CRTC proceeding), August 9, 2012

  • Competition Bureau Findings on Bell/Astral Merger:

    • Commissioner of Competition v. BCE Inc., CT-2013-002, March 4, 2013
    • Competition Bureau, "Significant Divestitures in Bell-Astral Merger to Preserve Competition", Media Release, March 4, 2013
  •, Media Release, Second CRTC Decision, June 27, 2013

  • PIAC, Media Release, Second CRTC Decision, June 27, 2013