Quebecor President and Chief Executive Officer Pierre Karl Peladeau (C) arrives with company executives at the CRTC hearings in Montreal Sept. 11, 2012.
Credits: REUTERS/Christinne Muschi
The president of the CRTC will announce a decision on the controversial Bell-Astral merger Thursday afternoon.
A decision on the $3.4-billion deal, which has been at the heart of months of debate regarding to the Canadian media landscape, is expected at 4 p.m.
Montreal-based BCE, parent company of Bell, wants to buy multimedia company Astral for $3.4 billion.
"The proposed transaction includes a staggering number of precedents that no other Western country, conscious of diversity, competition and democracy, will have faced," Quebecor CEO Pierre Karl Peladeau told a CRTC hearing last month.
Quebecor — which owns Sun Media, Sun News Network and QMI Agency — would face hefty competition in Quebec if such a deal were allowed to go forward – one Bell has argued would be good for Quebecers.
But Quebcor — along with Cogeco, Eastlink, Rogers, Telus and the Canadian Cable Systems Alliance — say the transaction is not in the best interest of consumers and would be bad for competition.
Bell says the Astral deal would give it control of less than the maximum 35% English-language market share decreed by the CRTC.
But a monitoring report by the broadcast watchdog reports a figure of 39.7%.
At the end of the CRTC hearings regarding the acquisition of Astral Bell, the Competition Bureau said he was "increasingly concerned" about the consequences that might result from this transaction.
Melanie Aitken, former commissioner of competition for the federal Competition Bureau, stated that even if the CRTC approves the transaction, the Competition Bureau could refuse.