Sale of Historia and Series+ specialty TV channels blocked

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Sale of Historia and Series+ specialty TV channels blocked

Postby dmehus » Mon May 28, 2018 4:24 am

Corus announced before markets opened today that the Competition Bureau has blocked its sale of the Historia and Series+ French-language specialty TV channels to Bell Media. It noted that it and Bell Media are "reviewing the [Competition Commissioner's] decision" and "considering the appropriate course of action" (read: challenging the decision, likely, in Federal Court). It further noted that the deal is still subject to approval of the CRTC.

It's interesting that the Competition Bureau got involved here - they normally take somewhat of a "back seat" to the CRTC when it comes to broadcasting and telecommunications mergers. I have to think that's because they are increasingly concerned about parent BCE's size and the scope of its Bell Media division. With this decision, I'm also wondering if Bell Media has now reached "peak acquisition," that is it has reached a level where it can no longer buy anything (material) within its existing operating segments' businesses?

As to this sale, I'd kind of forgotten, or simply didn't care, about it. It's not like Bell Media really owns any French-language history channels, either. So, it's definitely puzzling. Why didn't the Competition Bureau get involved in the sale of, oh I don't know, CTV!? It seems to me Corus wanted to sell these channels because they were unprofitable, even if they also were "non-core" to their "women and kids" focus that they seem to have (though this is less of a case since they bought Shaw Media's assets). I'm wondering, if TVA or Quebecor doesn't want to buy these channels (and how could the Competition Bureau approve a sale to either of them when they already dominate the Quebec market even more!?), maybe Corus will just shut them down?

Cheers,
Doug
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Re: Sale of Historia and Series+ specialty TV channels block

Postby Aaron » Mon May 28, 2018 3:27 pm

I've completely lost track of Quebec TV, but I think you're probably close to the truth about the Competition Bureau and Bell.

The CRTC decides these things by applying them against the rules - and the broadcasters know the rules inside out, so are rarely denied. It's really just regulatory math.

The Competition Bureau, however, is more of a wildcard. While they do seem to rubber-stamp, they use more situational judgement, and something like "Bell is just too big" is a plausible explanation in this case.
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Re: Sale of Historia and Series+ specialty TV channels block

Postby Bill Lee » Mon May 28, 2018 9:18 pm

Steve Faguey of the Montreal Gazette posits

"...Reasons aren’t given (the bureau itself has not released a statement yet), but the fact that Bell would have more than half the subscription revenue of French-language television in Canada might have something to do with it.

It might also have something to do with protecting the integrity of the bureau’s decisions. Five years ago, when Bell sought to purchase Astral Media (which at the time co-owned Séries+ and Historia with Shaw), the bureau came to an agreement to approve that sale, under various conditions that included the sale of those two channels. To allow Bell to re-buy those channels now would mean that the bureau does not take its own demands seriously....."

http://blog.fagstein.com/2018/05/28/com ... a-to-bell/
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Re: Sale of Historia and Series+ specialty TV channels block

Postby dmehus » Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:33 pm

Bill Lee wrote:Steve Faguey of the Montreal Gazette posits

"...Reasons aren’t given (the bureau itself has not released a statement yet), but the fact that Bell would have more than half the subscription revenue of French-language television in Canada might have something to do with it.

It might also have something to do with protecting the integrity of the bureau’s decisions. Five years ago, when Bell sought to purchase Astral Media (which at the time co-owned Séries+ and Historia with Shaw), the bureau came to an agreement to approve that sale, under various conditions that included the sale of those two channels. To allow Bell to re-buy those channels now would mean that the bureau does not take its own demands seriously....."

http://blog.fagstein.com/2018/05/28/com ... a-to-bell/


Great views, and you're probably right on both counts, Bill. :)

Cheers,
Doug
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Re: Sale of Historia and Series+ specialty TV channels block

Postby dmehus » Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:34 pm

Aaron wrote:I've completely lost track of Quebec TV, but I think you're probably close to the truth about the Competition Bureau and Bell.

The CRTC decides these things by applying them against the rules - and the broadcasters know the rules inside out, so are rarely denied. It's really just regulatory math.

The Competition Bureau, however, is more of a wildcard. While they do seem to rubber-stamp, they use more situational judgement, and something like "Bell is just too big" is a plausible explanation in this case.


Very true, Aaron, vis-a-vis CRTC vs. Competition Bureau approval/denial decisions.

Cheers,
Doug
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