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Bell agrees to sell channels to gain Bureau approval of Astral takeover

The Competition Bureau has reached an agreement with BCE Inc. (Bell), in relation to its proposed acquisition of Astral Media Inc.

Bell agreed to divest itself of Astral’s ownership of several specialty channels, including, The Family Channel, Teletoon, and The Cartoon Network. Bell must also refrain from imposing bundling requirements on providers who want to carry The Movie Network or Super Écran. Further, Bell agreed to divest itself of various radio stations in order to comply with the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission Common Ownership Policy.

According to the Bureau, these divestitures will protect competition in the supply of English and French pay and specialty television programming and address concerns that the merger may raise prices, and reduce innovation and choice.

“This positive news from the Competition Bureau is a major step forward in uniting Astral and Bell Media and delivering on our promise to grow investment and competition in Canadian broadcasting,” said George Cope, President and CEO of BCE Inc. and Bell Canada. “This decision preserves the tremendous value the transaction represents to consumers, the Canadian media community, and Astral and Bell shareholders.”

The acquisition still needs approval from the CRTC before it can proceed.

Read the Bureau’s press release and the Consent Agreement.

Read BCE’s press release.

Masiel A. Matus
Affleck Greene McMurtry LLP

Masiel A. Matus

Masiel has a broad commercial litigation practice and represents both national and international clients in a variety of complex matters. Masiel has experience litigating cases involving professional negligence, commercial leasing and real property disputes, insurance, contract disputes, shareholder disputes, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of trust, employment matters and defamation claims.

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