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The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 154: The House is Back – A Preview of Canadian Digital Policy as Parliament Resumes
The House of Commons and Senate return from a lengthy break this week and will likely run until late June with the occasional week or two off. Digital policy may not attract top line attention, but it has emerged as one of the government’s most active issues. This week’s Law Bytes podcast provides a preview of the upcoming session, looking at what may lie ahead for issues such as telecom policy, privacy reform, Bills C-11 and C-18, copyright, and trade policy.
The Rogers-Shaw merger saga was always destined to end on the desk of Innovation, Science and Industry Ministry François-Philippe Champagne. The merger has followed a familiar pattern: the companies started with a plan to merge without any divestitures that never stood a serious chance of approval, followed by adopting the Bell-MTS playbook of divesting assets to the weakest possible competitor in Xplorenet. When that didn’t fly, Videotron marched in to scoop up the wireless assets at a discount, complete with a story about exporting Quebec competition to other provinces and a politically attractive narrative for a Quebec-based minister who is reported to harbour future leadership ambitions.
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 153: Jennifer Quaid on the Competition Bureau’s Appeal of the Rogers-Shaw Merger Decision
The battle over the Rogers – Shaw merger has continued to escalate in recent days with TekSavvy filing an application with the CRTC on the wholesale access implications of the deal, a campaign to urge ISED Minister François-Philippe Champagne to reject the transaction, and a forthcoming Industry committee hearing on the situation. The merger heads for what may be its final legal showdown this week as the Federal Court of Appeal conducts its hearing on the Competition Bureau’s appeal of a recent decision from the Competition Tribunal that rejected its opposition to the proposed merger.
Jennifer Quaid is an Associate Professor and Vice-Dean Research in the Civil Law Section at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law. She is an expert on competition law and has been vocal throughout the Rogers-Shaw merger drama. She joins me on the Law Bytes podcast to unpack the legal arguments in the case, provides her prognostication on a potential outcome at the Court of Appeal, and offers insights into potential future competition law reforms in Canada in light of a national consultation on the issue.
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 144: Keldon Bester on the Rogers-Shaw Merger and the Problem with Canadian Competition Law
The proposed Rogers-Shaw merger was back in the news last week as Canadian Industry minister Francois Philippe Champagne held a mid-week press conference to announce that the original deal was dead, but that a reworked deal that brings in Videotron might be a possibility if certain government expectations on restrictions on transferring spectrum licences and consumer pricing outside of Quebec were met. Keldon Bester is a co-founder of the Canadian Anti-Monopoly Project (CAMP), a fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation and an independent consultant and researcher working on issues of competition and monopoly power in Canada. He’s been one of the most insightful and outspoken experts on the proposed Rogers-Shaw merger and he joins the Law Bytes podcast to discuss where things stand and the big picture weaknesses of Canadian competition law and policy.
Broadcast Bonanza: PBO Says Bill C-18 Would Give a Quarter Billion to Broadcasters Such as Bell and the CBC, Less Than 25% of Payments to Canadian Newspapers
As the witness portion of the Canadian Heritage committee hearing into the Online News Act (Bill C-18) comes to a premature end later this week (a hearing is planned with Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez and the CRTC, but remarkably Facebook, the CBC, and many experts will be blocked from appearing), new data from the Parliamentary Budget Office calls into question the claims of big benefits for Canadian newspapers. In fact, while the government has been anxious to cite the (questionable) PBO estimate that the bill will generate $329 million per year for Canadian news organizations, last week the PBO quietly released supplementary data that suggested it believes the vast majority of the money will actually go to the CBC, Bell, and other broadcasters. In fact, the supplementary data – posted with a link after the release of the PBO’s report – concludes that newspapers will receive less than 25% of the funding or about $81 million to split among hundreds of news outlets.