Competition Bureau statement regarding BCE’s acquisition of CTV

OTTAWA, February 1, 2011 — The Competition Bureau issued the following statement today in respect of its review of the proposed acquisition of CTVglobemedia Inc. (CTV) by BCE Inc.

At this time, the Commissioner of Competition does not intend to make an application to the Competition Tribunal under section 92 of the Competition Act in respect of the Proposed Transaction. It is important to note, however, that section 97 of the Act provides a one-year period following completion of the Proposed Transaction during which the Commissioner may bring the matter before the Tribunal. For the reasons summarized below, the Bureau will closely monitor the activities of the parties and regulatory developments in the broadcasting industry to determine whether it is appropriate to take such action prior to the expiry of that one-year period.

The Bureau is cognizant of the growing trend toward vertical integration in the broadcasting industry. The Bureau's review to date has focused principally on the ability of vertically integrated firms to foreclose competing Broadcast Distribution Undertakings (BDUs) from accessing certain programming for distribution on broadcast television, video-on-demand, internet, and mobile platforms. The Bureau also considered whether vertical integration of broadcasters and BDUs raises concerns with respect to the sharing of third parties' competitively-sensitive information. These issues are being considered in the context of an industry that is innovating, and, significantly, within a regulatory framework that is also evolving.

The Proposed Transaction is subject to independent examination by the Competition Bureau under the Act, and by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) under the Broadcasting Act. The two agencies conduct separate independent examinations that may lead to different results. Neither a decision by the CRTC, nor one by the Bureau, can be interpreted under any circumstances as impacting the other body's authority to reach its own decision, carrying out its independent responsibilities under its enabling statute.

In this particular case, the Commissioner considers the fact that certain of the concerns identified in the Bureau's review relate not only to the Proposed Transaction, but to vertical integration in the broadcasting industry more generally. In this regard, the Commissioner is aware of the CRTC's upcoming hearings into vertical integration, and expects that many of the concerns that were identified in the course of the Bureau's review will be raised in the context of the CRTC's process. Given the above, and the more general terms of reference under which the CRTC will consider issues pertaining to vertical integration, the Commissioner will closely monitor the hearings and the regulatory developments that may arise therefrom, and will consider the concerns identified during the Bureau's review of the Proposed Transaction in light of these developments.

For further information on the Proposed Transaction, please consult our backgrounder.

The Competition Bureau, as an independent law enforcement agency, ensures that Canadian businesses and consumers prosper in a competitive and innovative marketplace.

This publication is not a legal document. The Bureau’s findings, as reflected in this Position Statement, are not findings of fact or law that have been tested before a tribunal or court. Further, the contents of this Position Statement do not indicate findings of unlawful conduct by any party.

However, in an effort to further enhance its communication and transparency with stakeholders, the Bureau may publicly communicate the results of certain investigations, inquiries and merger reviews by way of a Position Statement. In the case of a merger review, Position Statements briefly describe the Bureau's analysis of a particular proposed transaction and summarize its main findings. The Bureau also publishes Position Statements summarizing the results of certain investigations, inquiries and reviews conducted under the Competition Act. Readers should exercise caution in interpreting the Bureau’s assessment. Enforcement decisions are made on a case‑by‑case basis and the conclusions discussed in the Position Statement are specific to the present matter and are not binding on the Commissioner of Competition.


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