Public interest group OpenMedia.ca is condemning today’s CRTC decision to allow big media giant Bell to take over Astral Media. Thousands of Canadians have spoken out against the takeover, because it will lead to lost jobs, fewer media and telecom choices, higher prices, and less opportunity for free expression.
Just four large, unaccountable Big Media conglomerates (Bell, Quebecor, Rogers, and Shaw) control over 86 per cent of Canadian cable and satellite distribution, 70 per cent of wireless revenues, and 54 per cent of Internet service revenues — making Canada the most concentrated media market out of all G8 countries. Today’s decision means Canada falling even further behind the rest of the G8. Canadians pay high prices for poor content and services because of this lack of real choice.
OpenMedia.ca has already been hearing from citizens who are disappointed that their telecom, news, and media choices will be restricted yet further, while Big Media gains more and more power and control.
This was the second time in less than a year that big media company Bell attempted to take over Astral — they launched their second attempt shortly after their first bid was refused by the CRTC last October. OpenMedia.ca believes the “second kick of the can” strategy that Bell launched so quickly after their first denial is unprecedented, and that the CRTC should never have dealt with the matter before revisiting and revamping the tools it has to deal with a transaction of this size.
“This decision is bad news for Canada, because allowing yet more concentration in our media market will act as a dead weight on our economy,” says OpenMedia.ca Executive Director Steve Anderson. “Canada already has the most concentrated media market in the G8, and it’s time for the government to take clear action to tackle this problem before Canada falls even further behind. Canadians need more media and telecom choice not more big telecom coddling by regulators.”
In recent years hundreds of thousands of Canadians have spoken out about the control big telecom companies like Bell have over our communications choices and pricing through OpenMedia.ca’s web tools.
Canadians can tell the government that it’s time to take urgent action against media concentration by speaking out at http://stopthetakeover.ca.