Independent TV producers call for more safeguards, benefits in Rogers-Shaw deal

GATINEAU, Que. — A range of independent television producers and associations have asked the CRTC to ensure more safeguards and tangible benefits in Rogers Communications Inc.’s proposed $26-billion takeover of Shaw Communications Inc. 

Speaking at the CRTC hearings in Gatineau, Que. this week — which are focused the broadcasting implications of the deal — presenters such as Ethnic Channels Group, WildBrain Ltd., and the Canadian Communications Systems Alliance have raised concerns about the market dominance Rogers would have if the deal were to be approved.

While direct competitors to Rogers such as Telus Corp. and BCE Inc. have outright opposed the deal, companies that are dependent on Rogers and Shaw to host their programming have been more targeted, with many requests focused on maintaining the status quo for a specified period. 

Ethnic Channels Group has asked that the CRTC require subscriber revenue to the independent ethnic producers not decrease for five years; children’s TV producer WildBrain has asked that the regulator force Rogers to continue to carry independents currently on Rogers or Shaw for five years; while others have asked that Rogers be forced to maintain the satellite transportation services that Shaw currently provides.

On Thursday Reynolds Mastin, chief executive of the Canadian Media Producers Association, called for more tangible benefits from the deal, saying the $5.7 million in total benefits proposed is not proportional to the size of the deal. 

Unifor raised concerns about Rogers’ plans to divert the $13 million a year Shaw gives to Global News to expand its own CityNews network, saying the plan risks losing a diversity of voices in smaller markets.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2021.

Companies in this story: (TSX:RCI.B,TSX:SJR.B; TSX:BCE)

The Canadian Press

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