Are you mad? Are you going to take it any more?

Have you been following the stupidity of Bell Canada owning CTV? It has been a steady downhill slope for CTV news under their masters at Bell Canada for the past five years. Former CTV boss Ivan Fecan really stuck it to Bell and his network when he sold CTV to the uninformed Bell management. The sale was approved despite many objections because of the political pressures of the Harper government on the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) of the time.

What the experts were talking about those days, but few understood, was the rapid convergence of digital transmission of radio and television with digital telecommunications. Canada ended up with financial consolidation in a communications market that was neither fully understood nor effectively planned. In their greed, Bell Canada, Quebecor, Rogers and Shaw simply grabbed for the biggest pieces of the market players.

And nobody in the know envied the new CRTC Chairman Jean-Pierre Blais’ position when he took over three years ago. If he does not speak nicely to some of the huge companies he is supposed to be regulating, they will call their friend Stephen Harper’s office and complain about him. They are not only quarrelsome but think he should bow low before them.

But he got even last week. Justice was delivered. The CRTC is still the regulator. The first shoe fell when he declared that the there will be a “skinny basic” package of television channels offered for just $25 by all the satellite, cable and telecommunications carriers. We had been asking the CRTC for this for the last decade and with an election later this year, the commissioners acted. They have also announced a pick-and-pay smorgasbord approach to specialty channels. There will be no more free rides for channels of questionable value to viewers.

The Prime Minister must have a sore ear by now if he listened to George Cope of Bell Canada about what the CRTC was doing to his company. George’s minion who runs Bell Media for him made the mistake of calling the head of CTV News to tell her to keep the CRTC chairman off of CTV news. That step finally caused an insurrection by some of CTV’s senior news people and the silly Bell guy had to apologize.

But there are far more subtle ways for Bell to manipulate CTV News. There could be some re-assignments down the road for certain news people at CTV. And never forget that it is the person who controls the budgets who ultimately calls the shots.

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Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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