Regulatory, Telecom & Media News – Audet family rejects unsolicited Cogeco takeover bid

Cogeco Executive Chairman Louis Audet and the Audet family, who hold a controlling interest in both Cogeco Inc. and Cogeco Communications Inc., have rebuffed a $10.3 billion takeover bid from Altice USA and Rogers Communications Inc. Under terms of the proposal, Rogers was to acquire Cogeco’s Canadian assets for $4.9 billion. In an effort to gain support, Altice said in a release that it had offered the Audet family “a sizeable premium” on their shares amounting to $800 million CAD for their controlling ownership interest. In their own release issued Wednesday afternoon, the Audet family said it had the unsolicited proposal reviewed by Gestion Audem Inc., a company controlled by members of the family, indicating “that it does not intend to sell its shares and will not support the proposal.” Read more here.

Rogers Communications has announced the expansion of its 5G network to more than 50 new towns and cities, with a goal to reach more than 60 markets by end of year. The expansion includes 18 cities and towns in Ontario; 26 communities in British Columbia; in addition to Calgary, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, Lethbridge, Regina, Saskatoon, Gatineau, Quebec City and Trois-Rivières.

Xplornet Communications Inc. has announced the closure of an agreement to acquire New Brunswick-based fibre provider, F6 Networks Inc. F6 Networks owns and operates a 1,600 km fibre backbone network in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, providing services to enterprise customers and carriers in the region. Xplornet says the acquisition positions the company as a significant independent fibre provider in Atlantic Canada, “with F6’s fibre-rich network supporting Xplornet’s current and future hybrid fibre wireless deployment plans across the Maritimes.”

Rogers and Rogers Sports & Media have been announced as Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital’s first telecommunications and broadcast media partners, respectively, for the Dear Everybody campaign. Rogers has committed to featuring people with disabilities more prominently in its consumer advertising, including television, out-of-home, digital, and social. In its fourth year, the Dear Everybody campaign is about being more inclusive and removing the stigma around disabilities, particularly for kids and youth. 

Jack Nagler

CBC Ombudsman Jack Nagler has released his annual report covering the period from Apr. 1, 2019 to Mar. 31, 2020. The office received 6,675 comments, complaints and expressions of concern, with 1,112 sent to programmers for a response. Nagler says those numbers are considerably higher than a year ago, in part due to it being a federal election year, but also due to a protest campaign around documentary, Drag Kids, which aired on CBC Docs POV. It drew more than 2,000 complaints, as well as a separate petition that generated 17,315 automated emails to Nagler’s office. In the report, Nagler says the documentary’s journalistic standards were not the issue, with almost every complaint focused on CBC’s decision to air the profile of child drag performers. In the period up to Mar. 31, there were also 204 complaints to the office regarding pandemic coverage. “Viewers had competing desires to see the events most relevant to their own communities, and CBC’s decisions came under scrutiny,” wrote Nagler, who expects the public broadcaster’s pandemic coverage to feature prominently in next year’s report.