Saying that the deal was not good for Canadians because it would place too much power in the hands of one company, the Canadian Radio-television & Telecommunications Commission said that it would not approve of Bell Canada Enterprises planned purchase of Montreal-based Astral Inc.
While Bell appeared most interested in Astral’s broadcast sector, the deal would also have included Astral Out-of-Home, including its spectacular digital billboards and its digital street furniture, a growing sector in the division.
The decision was made by recently installed commissioner Jean-Pierre Blais. Had he judged for the sale, Bell would have owned Astral Media’s 25 channels, including The Movie Network, HBO Canada and French-language Super Ecran, Family Channel and Disney Junior and more than 80 radio stations giving it 42.7% of the English viewing audience about 33.1% of the French TV market – plus the out-of-home assets.
With the exception of Shaw Communications, most of Bell’s competitors opposed the deal. It is expected that Bell will appeal to the federal cabinet to overrule the decision, which would be a rare event, should it happen.