Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.


The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

Block Bell's CTV buy, say open media advocates

Bell Canada’s move to become sole owner of CTV, the top broadcaster in Canada, is causing media democracy advocates to raise alarms.

If the $1.3 billion purchase by Bell Canada Enterprises (BCE) Inc. is approved by the CRTC, it will give Bell total control of CTV’s 31 specialty television stations, 30 over-the-air television stations, two television networks, and 37 radio stations.

That would erode the quality of information citizens receive in Canada from their media, and place too much power – over TV, radio, the internet and telephones – in the hands of one giant corporation, says Steve Anderson, national coordinator of, Canada’s largest media democracy pressure group.

He’s urging federal regulators to rethink their criteria for approving mega-deals like this.

"The CRTC has approved every major change in ownership in broadcasting for the last 15 years because it says the competitive marketplace will strengthen broadcast journalism in Canada," Anderson is quoted saying in a press release issued yesterday by the group he heads.

"The CRTC has always told Canadians that our broadcasting system will improve if it allows these large takeovers," said Anderson. "But in the last three years it has allowed Canada’s largest local TV broadcasters to cut local programming and close stations. And last year, it let them spend $233 million more on foreign TV programs, than on Canadian programs."

"What’s worse," continued Anderson, "is that the CRTC has stood by while broadcasters have laid off almost four thousand people. If this is what the CRTC calls strengthening our broadcasting system, I’d hate to see what a weakened system would look like."

Bell Canada President and CEO George Cope has said that how people watched the Olympics proved the emerging powerful appeal of mobile TV, and the need to command a variety of media platforms. "We say with all sincerity the Olympics was a real important moment because it was really the first time we started to see these new technologies, the impact it had on TV, the impact it had on the Internet and the impact it had on wireless," said Cope.

The OpenMedia press release says approving the sale would push Canada further in the wrong direction. “Canada's media system is already one of the most highly concentrated in the Western world. Five companies currently own the majority of private television stations, and only three companies own the majority of newspapers in Canada,” states the release, adding:

“OpenMedia expects the CRTC to ask for Canadians’ comment within the next six months, and will be demanding strong regulatory initiatives from the CRTC to serve the public interest.”

David Beers is editor of The Tyee.

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus