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Request for a Policy Direction Pursuant to Section 7 of the Broadcasting Act (Final)

Request for a Policy Direction Pursuant to Section 7 of the Broadcasting Act (Final)

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Published by: Steve Ladurantaye on Oct 22, 2012
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10/22/2012

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Request by BCE Inc.For the Issuance of a Policy DirectionPursuant to Section 7 of the
Broadcasting Act 
22 October 2012
 
Table of ContentsPageRequest for the Issuance of a Policy Direction Pursuant to Section 7of the
Broadcasting Act 
I. Introduction and Executive Summary.....................................................................................1II. A policy direction is required in order to restore regulatory integrity and certainty................10(a) The Diversity of Voices Policy.................................................................................10(b) The Vertical Integration Framework.........................................................................14(c) The Radio Ownership Policy...................................................................................14(d) The Benefits Policy.................................................................................................15III. The CRTC relied on never-before used criteria to deny the BCE/Astral transaction............16IV. The CRTC does not have unfettered discretion..................................................................18V. A policy direction to the CRTC is required...........................................................................18
Appendix
Draft Direction to the CRTC (Respecting the Application of Established CRTC.......................A-1Policies to Applications for Approvals of Changes in Ownership of LicensedBroadcasting Programming Undertakings)
 
Page 1
I.Introduction and Executive Summary
1.This is a request by BCE Inc. (“BCE” or “Bell”) for the Governor in Council to issue a policydirection to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (the“CRTC” or the “Commission”) requiring it to adhere to its existing policies with respect todiversity of voices, vertical integration, the common ownership of radio stations and thebenefits policy when it considers applications for approval of changes in effective control. A copy of the proposed policy direction is attached as the Appendix to this document.2.An immediate policy direction is necessary in order to restore regulatory certainty andcredibility to the Canadian broadcasting system. Ultimately and in short time, without suchcertainty and credibility, stakeholders –including most certainly consumers and thosefinancially invested in Canada’s communications sector –will lose confidence in the abilityof the Commission and other public institutions to act in the public interest, resultingin anexodus of capital and stifling Canada’s ambitions as a leader in the new digital economy.3.Such a direction is essential in order to guide licensee companies in conducting theiregulated businesses and in planning acquisitions and divestitures within the media sector.4.All existing regulatory certainty was eliminated when the CRTC issued BroadcastingDecision CRTC 2012-574
1
(the “Decision”) in which it denied outright Bell’s proposal toacquire Astral Media Inc. (“Astral”) (the “Transaction”); a proposal that complied fully withall of the existing CRTC policies against which the CRTC itself stated the application wouldbe evaluated, namely:(a)the Commission’s policy with respect to diversity of voices (the “DoV Policy”);
2
(b)the Commission’s regulatory framework relating to vertical integration (the “VIFramework”);
3
(c)the Commission’s common ownership policy for radio (the “Radio OwnershipPolicy”);
4
and(d)the Commission’s policy with respect to tangible benefits (the “Benefits Policy”)
5
.
 
1
Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2012-574,
 Astral broadcasting undertakings –Change of effective control 
,18 October 2012.
2
 As set out in Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2008-4,
Regulatory policy -Diversity of voices,
15January 2008.
3
 As set out in Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2011-601,
Regulatory framework relating to vertical integration
, 21 September 2011.
4
 Affirmed in the DoV Policy and clarified in Broadcasting Information Bulletin 2010-341,
Revised guidelines for the application of the Common Ownership Policy for Radio
, 4 June 2010.
5
Originally published in Public Notice CRTC 1989-109,
Elements Assessed by the Commission inConsidering Applications for the Transfer of Ownership or Control of Broadcasting Undertakings
, 28September 1989 and most recently articulated in Public Notice CRTC 1999-97,
Building on Success –A

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