OTTAWA and VANCOUVER – The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) and citizen-engagement group OpenMedia.ca are behind a new coalition known as ‘Stop the Takeover’ formed to fight Bell’s proposed acquisition of Astral Media.
The coalition, which also includes groups Canada Without Poverty, Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, Canadian Media Guild, Consumers' Association of Canada, Council of Canadians, Council of Senior Citizens' Organizations of British Columbia, CWP Advocacy Network, Option Consommateurs, and Union des consommateurs, has kicked off a campaign encouraging Canadians to block the deal by completing a preset form on its website and sending it to the CRTC, Industry Minister Christian Paradis, Heritage Minister James Moore, and the Competition Bureau. (Ed note: The deadline to file comments with the CRTC, however, was August 9).
“Should the Bell-Astral takeover be approved, Canadians face a future of fewer choices for content, content providers and service providers, higher prices for consumers, a weaker diversity of voices, and less innovation”, reads the website.
“The CRTC now has no excuse. It’s abundantly clear that Bell’s proposed monopolistic takeover is bad for Canada, and Canadians know it”, said OpenMedia’s executive director Steve Anderson, in the coalition’s news release. “Canadians learning more and getting engaged are the strongest chance we have at pushing back against Bell’s takeover. We strongly encourage Canadians to make their voices heard at StopTheTakeover.ca”
“If Bell is allowed to control Astral’s content, Bell will to force higher prices and less choice on their customers and their competitor’s customers”, added PIAC Counsel Janet Lo. “If this takeover is allowed, prices and content will be offered only on Bell’s terms, and suppressing competition harms consumers.”