CRTC puppy bites Bell master.

Wow. You have to really wonder at this one. Many of us had taken a pass on going to plead with the Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) not to allow Bell to buy Astral Media. We figured that this new chairman, chosen by Prime Minister Harper, was just a new lap dog for Bell Canada.

Boy, were we wrong. This ruling almost made up for the time Bell laughed at us for opposing the takeover of CTV. It helped soothe the bruises we still carried from opposing local television channels charging cable and satellite companies for their signals. While we were always treated well by former chair Konrad von Finkenestein, we had no hope at all for this new guy.

Jean-Pierre Blais, the CRTC’s chair for the coming five years (maybe) was appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in June of this year. As an Ottawa insider and a former official of the CRTC, Blais seemed to be the ideal guy to cater to whatever Ma Bell wanted. He is considered knowledgeable in both telecommunications and television which is essential to understanding where these converging industries are heading.

But anyone who has been involved in both industries knows, it takes a very level headed person to understand both and to handle the people involved on both sides of the issues. And that describes Blais.

As The Globe and Mail wrote about Blais at the time of his appointment “Those who know Mr. Blais say he is more of a conciliation-minded type who would seek compromise rather that strike out independently with bold initiatives.”

This seems to tell us that even insiders, who say they know Blais, have been caught off guard by this ruling.

All the rest of us can say is that it is a breath of fresh air in the arid climate of Harper’s Ottawa. While it is considered unlikely that cabinet will overturn the decision, you can be sure that the sore losers at Bell will leave no rock unturned in searching out a legal reason for the cabinet to restore Bell’s wounded pride.

It is good to see Astral’s stock falling to more realistic levels after the ruling. It might be asking too much though for Bell’s people to realize where they have gone wrong.


Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to

Comments are closed.