CRTC toughens media merger rules
OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's communications regulator imposed new rules on Tuesday restricting cross-media ownership and setting limits on broadcasting mergers to ensure diversity in programming.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission said in a statement that private companies will only be allowed to control two of the three media types -- radio, television and newspaper -- serving a single local market.
When reviewing mergers and acquisitions, the regulator will ensure that no single entity controls more than 45 percent of the total television audience and that no owner effectively controls delivery of programming in any market.
The new rules apply only to private broadcasters and to future deals.
The CRTC said it was concerned that consolidation in the television industry could lead some owners to have a dominant position that might lead to a reduction of local or regional programming.
"It is an approach that will preserve the plurality of editorial voices and the diversity of programming available to Canadians, both locally and nationally, while allowing for a strong and competitive industry," said CRTC Chairman Konrad von Finckenstein.
Companies that could be affected by the rule change include CanWest Global Communications Corp CGS.TO, which won CRTC approval last month for its takeover of Alliance Atlantis Communications.
Other big media players include Quebecor Inc. QBRb.TO, Rogers Communications (RCIb.TO: Quote), Shaw Communications (SJRb.TO: Quote), Cogeco Inc CGO.TO, Corus Entertainment CJRb.TO and Astral Media ACMa.TO.
There is already at least one instance where a company owns more than one media outlet in the same medium and in the same market. Continued...