Ian Scott to the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology
April 7, 2021
Ian Scott, Chief Executive Officer
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)
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Thank you, Madam Chair.
I am joining you from the CRTC’s offices, which are located on traditional unceded Algonquin territory. I would like to thank the Anishnaabeg people and pay respect to their Elders.
I am joined today by Scott Hutton, Chief, Consumer, Research and Communications, and Chris Seidl, Executive Director of Telecommunications.
We welcome this opportunity to appear at the start of your study of the proposed acquisition of Shaw Communications by Rogers Communications. My remarks today will focus on explaining how the CRTC reviews transactions in the communications industry.
At this stage, we know little more about this potential transaction than the public. We are waiting for the parties to file the required regulatory documents, so we know only what has been reported in the media.
I can, however, explain the CRTC’s jurisdiction and the process we typically follow for these types of transactions. There are two components to the proposed transaction: Shaw’s telecom businesses including wireless and Internet access; and its cable and satellite television service and video-on-demand businesses.
Under the Telecommunications Act, transactions involving telecommunications services do not require the CRTC’s prior approval. We have no role in approving transfers of ownership or spectrum – except to ensure the company remains Canadian owned and controlled.
In this case, subject to verification of the regulatory filings, Rogers is a Canadian company.
I mentioned that the CRTC is not typically involved in reviewing ownership transactions for companies offering telecommunications services. Our regulatory oversight is on an ongoing basis to ensure that the services provided by these operators achieve the objectives set out in the Telecommunications Act, including the availability of reliable and affordable telecommunications services in all regions of Canada.
I’m sure Committee members are aware that we’ve undertaken an extensive review of the wireless market to ensure our regulations enable competition that provides better prices for Canadians. Similarly, we are currently conducting a review of the wholesale rates competitors pay to access the networks of the large cable and telephone companies, which they use to offer Internet services to Canadians.
I suspect you have questions about the outcomes of both these proceedings. I trust you will understand that we cannot speak to those issues, except to say that decisions are forthcoming.
Regarding the broadcasting assets in this specific case, the Broadcasting Act and its associated regulations provide that the CRTC approve a transfer of ownership of these assets.
Once a complete application is received, we will publish a notice of consultation and seek comments from the public. We will examine the proposed transaction taking into consideration our relevant policies for the sector. This includes policies designed to ensure a diversity of voices in the broadcasting system and that Canadians have access to local and community television programming.
In this instance, we will also consider the impact the transaction may have on CPAC, which provides independent and nonpartisan coverage of Canada’s democratic processes.
As with all our proceedings, we will render decisions in the public interest based on the evidence on the record of that proceeding.
The transaction is also subject to regulatory approvals from the Competition Bureau under the Competition Act and from the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry under the Radiocommunications Act.
Although I cannot speak about the matters currently before the Commission, we will be pleased to answer your questions.
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