Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Peladeau says Bell Media’s move to acquire conventional French-language TV network ‘V’ would amount to giving the media giant a monopoly if allowed to proceed.
Bell revealed Wednesday, it has entered into an agreement with the shareholders of Groupe V Média to acquire the network and related digital assets, including ad-supported VOD service Noovo.ca, subject to regulatory approval.
Adding fuel to a mounting series of ongoing legal fires burning between Quebecor and Bell, Peladeau weighed in on the proposed transaction Thursday, issuing a press release entitled “Bell Media one step closer to becoming a monopoly again.”
Peladeau says allowing Bell to acquire V and its digital assets will further undermine an already precarious ecosystem by allowing the largest vertically integrated provider of telecommunications and broadcasting services in Canada to “dramatically increase its power and dominance in the French-language market in terms of competitive posture, advertising revenues and content offerings, ultimately at the expense of the consumer.”
Quebecor points to a May 2018 Competition Bureau decision that blocked Bell’s acquisition of specialty channels Séries+ and Historia to prevent “a substantial lessening of competition.” Quebecor says applying the same reasoning, the acquisition of a conventional network and its digital assets by a giant such as Bell should raise even graver concerns.
“Bell was originally a monopoly and its actions of recent years appear to be aimed at becoming a monopoly again and adopting a business model based on the elimination of all competition,” said Péladeau, in the release. “The acquisition of a French-language conventional network will not only increase Bell’s dominance but prevent other players from being competitive in content acquisition and advertising offerings. After the absorption of Astral by Bell, yet another Québec head office will be swept away by a Toronto-based giant. At the end of the day, Québec television viewers will lose out. Is this the future we want for Québec television? As a shareholder in V through Investissement Québec, the government of Québec must intervene to block this deal. In the long run, this takeover would threaten our ability to maintain the requisite resources to sustain our newsrooms and our expertise in news coverage, one of the foundations of a healthy and vibrant democracy.”
Quebecor says it plans to make its case to the appropriate bodies.
As of publication, Bell Media had not responded to Broadcast Dialogue’s request for comment.
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