Rogers says it needs Shaw to compete for content

Rogers Communications argued Monday before the CRTC that its proposed $ 26 billion takeover of Shaw Communications was necessary not only to create greater competition in Western Canada, but also to compete with content providers on the global market.

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“Canada is no longer an isolated island in an ocean,” said Edward Rogers, chairman of the company board, during the first day of hearings for the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission in Gatineau.

“While our main competitors are still Bell and Telus in the cable industry, in this global market our competitors are also increasingly global platforms and brands,” added Rogers, who won a battle. High-profile court review for the company’s board of directors earlier this month.

During the hearings, the company stressed that its investments in internet television were essential to respond to threats to Canadian broadcasting from Netflix, Amazon Prime and Apple TV, since Rogers’ offer allows customers to watch over the internet. both national and international content, while remaining within a regulated framework.

He said he also plans to invest billions of dollars to expand broadband access and invest in 5G networks to stay competitive.

Brad Shaw, CEO of Shaw, for his part said the proposed deal comes at a critical time for the industry and the Calgary-based company cannot make the necessary investments in network and broadcast without partnership.

“Simply put, Shaw can’t do it alone. We need the scale, strength and resources of the combined assets of Shaw and Rogers, ”he said.

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Dean Prevost, head of the Rogers Connected Home division, argued that the investments would increase broadcasting competition in Western Canada, especially in rural communities where Telus is often the only option. He did not assure Shaw customers would see rate increases, but said competition was the best way to counter this.

“The best insurance you have is the West’s most incredibly aggressive competitor, which is Telus. Raising prices is not an isolated act, it depends on the market. ”

The CRTC heard from Rogers and Shaw on Monday, while other interested groups, including Telus, BCE and consumer groups, are expected to have their say later this week.

In the filings, Telus and BCE opposed the deal, saying it would give Rogers control of 47 percent of English-language broadcasting subscribers in Canada and too much influence over content distribution and security. content rights.

Speaking on Monday’s return to parliament, New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh said he was also opposed to the deal.

“We are absolutely opposed to this merger. It will hurt people, it will make life more difficult, it will increase costs for the internet, ”he said.

CRTC hearings focus on the implications of the agreement for broadcasting, including cable networks in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, the Shaw Direct satellite television service and a relay system. by satellite.

The CRTC will not consider the impact on the mobile wireless market, which will be part of reviews by the Competition Bureau and the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.

Companies in this story: (TSX: RCI.B; TSX: SJR.B)

Ian Bickis, The Canadian Press

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