The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has approved Rogers Communications Inc.’s acquisition of broadcasting services from Shaw Communications Inc., but will require the company to meet a series of conditions it laid out on Thursday.
Approval from the broadcast regulator is one of many hurdles Rogers must navigate as it tries to complete the $26 billion deal it signed in March 2021 that will see it to acquire 16 western Canadian-based cable television services, a national satellite television service and other broadcasting services. and television services.
The Competition Bureau and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada are also reviewing the deal.
“The commission is of the view that the application, subject to modifications…is the best possible proposal under the circumstances and that this transaction would not diminish the diversity of voices in Canada,” the report said.
He also indicates that the CRTC concluded that the competitive landscape would not be unduly affected and that the transaction would be in the public interest.
The CRTC, which was only responsible for assessing the broadcasting elements of the deal, said it included stipulations in its approval because it wants to ensure the sale will benefit Canadians and the broadcasting system. from the country.
In separate statements Thursday night, Rogers and Shaw welcomed the CRTC’s approval.
“This approval is an important milestone and brings us closer to completing our transformational transaction with Shaw,” Rogers Chairman Tony Staffieri said in a statement.
The CRTC’s decision comes with stipulations
Among the CRTC conditions is a requirement for Rogers to contribute $27.2 million to various initiatives and funds, five times what the company originally proposed.
The CRTC’s decision indicates that 80% of this amount will go to the Canada Media Fund, the Independent Local News Fund and certified independent production funds. The remaining 20% will go to initiatives offered by Rogers, including the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund and the Broadcasting Participation Fund.
Rogers is to create an Indigenous news team with reporters in all provinces where the company provides news content to deliver stories to First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities.
The company must also report annually on its commitments to increase its support for local news, including employing more journalists at its Citytv stations and producing an additional 48 prime-time specials each year that reflect communities. local.
The CRTC will require Rogers to distribute at least 45 English- and French-language independent services on each of its cable and satellite services to ensure that independent programming services are not disadvantaged in negotiations with Rogers.
Deal faces opposition
The Shaw home phone, wireless and Internet services that Rogers would acquire under the deal are not subject to CRTC approval, but are under review by the Competition Bureau and Innovation, Science and Canada Economic Development.
The deal faced opposition from competitors and government officials. Ottawa has pledged to block the full transfer of wireless licenses from Shaw to Rogers and the House of Commons Industry and Technology Committee said earlier this month that Rogers’ bid for Shaw shouldn’t go ahead, but if it does, the government should put conditions on the deal. .
The committee recommended that the affordability and accessibility interests of Canadians take precedence over all other considerations during the regulatory review process.
The CRTC said it received 365 interventions on the deal. About 334 were in favor of the request, 25 were comments on the deal and six were opposed to the deal.
Rivals Telus Corp. and BCE Inc. also argued that competition and consumer choice will be reduced if the transaction proceeds.
Vancouver-based Telus said that if the merger goes ahead, Rogers would serve about 47% of English-language broadcasting subscribers and its network would reach 80% of Canadians.