Bell calls up Ottawa over Astral deal
Oct 18, 2012 / 7:54 pm
BCE Inc. will call on the federal Cabinet to intervene after the broadcast regulator gave an unequivocal thumbs down to its takeover of Astral Media on Thursday, declaring in no uncertain terms the $3.4-billion deal was not good for Canadians.
The surprise decision by the CRTC was announced after stock markets closed and marked the first major ruling for newly installed commissioner Jean-Pierre Blais.
Not only did Blais, who took over in late June, turn down one of the biggest takeovers ever submitted to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, he left little doubt about where he stood, or how he would respond should BCE return with a modified but essentially similar proposal.
"This transaction would have resulted in an unprecedented level of concentration in the Canadian marketplace and we had grave concerns that BCE would be able to use its market power in an unfair manner and engage in uncompetitive behaviour," he said.
"Simply put this was not a good deal for Canadians" that could have restricted choice and raised prices of services, he added.
Bell said late Thursday that it was "shocked" and "appalled" by the decision, adding that it will ask the federal Cabinet to "issue direction to CRTC to follow its own regulatory policy." It said the decision was "tainted by behind-the-scenes lobbying" by its rivals and claims the ruling violates the regulator's own policies.
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