CRTC approves Rogers' acquisition of Shaw's broadcasting services

March 28, 2022
Rogers in a statement said it intends to contribute more than $27 million in initiatives that will benefit the broadcasting system.

On March 24, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced its approval of Rogers' acquisition of Shaw's broadcasting services, subject to a number of conditions and modifications. The CRTC said it has also set out several safeguards to ensure that the transaction benefits Canadians and the Canadian broadcasting system.

As explained in a CRTC press release, as part of the transaction, Rogers is acquiring 16 cable services based in Western Canada, a national satellite television service and other broadcast and television services. The approval only deals with the broadcasting elements of the overall transaction announced by Rogers and Shaw.

The CRTC has also required Rogers to pay five times more in benefits to the broadcasting system than it had originally proposed.

As a result, Rogers will contribute $27.2 million to various initiatives and funds, including those that support the production of content by Indigenous producers and members of equity-seeking groups.

Benefits will be directed to the Canada Media Fund, the Independent Local News Fund, the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund and the Broadcasting Participation Fund, among others.

More terms and conditions

According to the CRTC's statement, Rogers must also report annually on its commitments to increase its support for local news, including by employing a higher number of journalists at its Citytv stations across the country and by producing an additional 48 news specials each year that reflect local communities.

Further, the CRTC is imposing safeguards to ensure independent programming services are not placed at a disadvantage when negotiating with Rogers.

For instance, Rogers must distribute at least 45 independent English and French-language services on each of its cable and satellite services. The CRTC has also imposed safeguards to ensure that cable providers relying on signals delivered by Rogers will continue to be able to serve their communities, including those in rural and remote areas.

The home telephone, wireless and Internet services that Rogers is also seeking to acquire are not subject to the CRTC's prior approval and are being reviewed by the Competition Bureau and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.

"Given the nature of this transaction, we have put in place safeguards aimed at addressing potential risks to the broadcasting system for both consumers and programming services," commented Ian Scott, chairperson and CEO, CRTC. "Rogers must honour all existing contracts for Shaw customers. This adds to the safeguards already in place, which allow Canadians to subscribe to a basic television package and to select channels either individually or in small packages."

Rogers currently operates cable services in several provinces, a dozen over-the-air television stations, several national discretionary TV services and over 50 radio stations across Canada. Shaw and Rogers did not operate in the same markets prior to the transaction.

The CRTC noted it "does not require tangible benefits to be paid when there are changes to the ownership and control of cable and satellite subscription services. Therefore, the value of these services was not taken into account in calculating the $27.2 million in investments that Rogers must make," added the statement.

The CRTC concluded that Rogers must maintain or improve the quality of service, as well as the accessibility of these services for Canadians with disabilities, for current Shaw customers. In 2021, over two million Canadians subscribed to Shaw's cable and satellite television services.

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