Opening remarks at the public hearing on the applications to change ownership and conditions of licence filed by Bell Canada and Groupe V Média inc.

Speech

Montreal, Quebec
February 12, 2020

Dr. Caroline J. Simard, Vice-Chair, Broadcasting
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

Check against delivery

Hello and welcome to this public hearing.

Before we begin, I would like to acknowledge that we are meeting here today on traditional lands of the First Nations. I would like to thank them and pay respect to their Elders.

At this hearing, we will review three non-severable applications.

The first is an application by Bell seeking to effect a change in the ownership and effective control of V Interactions. V Interactions is the licensee of a French-language television network called “V,” and of five local French-language television stations operated in the markets of Montreal, Quebec City, Saguenay, Sherbrooke and Trois-Rivières.

This application also seeks to integrate the V stations into the Bell Media group. To that end, Bell is requesting to amend certain conditions of licence, including those related to programs of national interest, for the services in the Bell Media group and those it is seeking to acquire.

Groupe V Média, the seller of the V Interactions stations, filed an application for approval to modify the ownership of MusiquePlus. This transaction is a corporate reorganization to allow for the acquisition of Groupe V Média without the discretionary services ELLE Fictions and MAX. Groupe V Média also requests to amend the conditions of licence for ELLE Fictions and MAX to reflect the new group to which they would belong if the Commission were to approve Bell’s application.

Throughout this hearing, we will seek to obtain all the information necessary from the parties to determine whether the transaction is in the public interest. Specifically, the panel will address the following issues with the parties:

  •  the impact of the transaction on the development of the V stations, including the number of hours of news broadcast in the markets they serve
  •  expenditure requirements for programs of national interest and Canadian programming
  • the impact of the transaction on the diversity of voices, and
  • the impact of the transaction on the broadcasting system as a whole.

As with all applications involving the acquisition of broadcasting services, the Commission will take into account the intangible benefits that could result from this transaction, as well as the tangible benefits generated for the broadcasting system.

Let us be clear: the Commission is well aware of the particular context for the applications before us today. We will pay particular attention to the impacts that this transaction may have on the French-language television landscape.

Finally, I would like to assure all parties that the applications will be assessed on their own merits. As always, the Commission will base its decision on the evidence on the public record and presented as part of this hearing.

Procedure

Before we begin, allow me to introduce my colleagues. The panel consists of:

  • Christianne Laizner, Vice-Chair, Telecommunications
  • Alicia Barin, Commissioner representing the Quebec region
  • and myself: Caroline Simard, Vice-Chair, Broadcasting.

The Commission staff members assisting us include:

  • François Vézina, Hearing Manager and Senior Corporate Analyst
  • Christina Maheux, Legal Counsel, and
  • Lynda Roy, Hearing Secretary.

I would now like to invite Ms. Roy to explain the procedure we will be following.

Madam Secretary…

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