MONTREAL — Canada’s media regulator unveiled rules Tuesday restricting media ownership following a number of major takeovers in the local broadcast biz.
Companies will only be able to own two types of media in the same market, including TV, radio and local newspapers, according to the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission.
In addition, no one broadcaster is allowed to control more than 45% of the total TV audience in the Great White North.
The CRTC will not approve any transaction in which cable or satellite operators join forces so that one company effectively controls either cable or satellite delivery.
There had been a lot of talk that Shaw-owned StarChoice, a satellite operator, might takeover rival satellite service BellExpressvu. These rules would scuttle any such transaction.
“With these new policies, we have developed a clear approach to guide us in assessing future transactions in the broadcasting industry,” said CRTC chairman Konrad von Finckenstein. The policies only apply to private broadcasters and not to pubcasters CBC and its French sister service Radio-Canada.
The rules about cross-ownership apply to local newspapers and the CRTC made it clear that it considers the two Toronto-based newspapers, the Globe and Mail — owned by CTVglobemedia — and the National Post — owned by CanWest Global — to be national papers and exempt from the policy.
The CRTC said it was unaware of any situations where media companies own three types of media in the same market in Canada.
The decision follows hearings looking into media ownership in Canada prompted by some major consolidation in the past couple of years. The big deals include CTVglobemedia’s $1.4 billion acquisition of rival broadcaster Chum in 2006, CanWest’s $2.3 billion takeover of pay TV owner Alliance Atlantis in 2007 and Astral Media’s $1 billion purchase of radio-station owner Standard Broadcasting last year.