Archive for October 22nd, 2012

The CRTC’s Big Shift: From Tangible Benefits to the Public Interest

Last week’s Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications decision to reject the proposed Bell – Astral merger surprised most observers, as few predicted with much confidence that the deal would be flatly rejected. There was good reason to doubt such an outcome, given that the CRTC review of the merger transactions has historically focused on the “tangible benefits” package that often provide millions in funding for new Canadian television and radio productions.

The result was largely regulatory theatre. The purchaser would typically unveil a benefits package featuring self-interested proposals, often amend those plans at the CRTC hearing to demonstrate it was sensitive to criticisms from various groups, and the CRTC would proceed to further tweak the package to show it was not ready to rubber stamp the transaction.

My extra Toronto Star column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes the process generally served the companies and the tangible benefits recipients well. The merging companies were reasonably assured of getting their deal approved and the tangible benefits recipients received hundreds of millions in funding with few strings attached. 

The problem was that the public was missing from this process. Tough policy issues with a direct impact on the public were put off for another day as the public interest was supposedly served by trickle down benefits generated by market efficiencies or the creation of new Canadian programming.

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October 22, 2012 5 comments Columns

Make No Mistake, This is a New CRTC

Appeared in the Toronto Star on October 20, 2012 as Make No Mistake, This is a New CRTC Last week’s Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications decision to reject the proposed Bell – Astral merger surprised most observers, as few predicted with much confidence that the deal would be flatly rejected. There […]

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October 22, 2012 Comments are Disabled Columns Archive

Reactions to the CRTC’s Bell – Astral Decision

Several must-read posts and articles on the CRTC’s Bell – Astral decision from over the weekend from David Ellis, Dwayne Winseck, and Steven Chase of the Globe and Mail.

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October 22, 2012 1 comment Must Reads