Astral & Bell Promise More Canadian Content Spending Post-Merger


MONTREAL: As they officially submit their revised application to the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), Astral Media and Bell have outlined several initiatives that will be put in place if the merger is approved.

The tangible benefits package of C$174.64 million proposed by Astral and Bell will mean more development and promotion for new Canadian TV and film content in French and English. The two companies are also pledging significant new investment in radio and emerging musical talent, as well as enhanced initiatives around media training and consumer participation in Canadian broadcasting. In addition to the proposed benefit, Bell previously committed more than C$240 million in tangible benefits when it acquired CTV to form Bell Media in 2011.

Of the C$124.6 million in TV benefits, 85 percent will go toward independent on-screen production. Of this, C$73.1 million will be dedicated to French-language programming and C$32.81 million to English-language content.

The two also plan to bring new consumer choices in French-language media and greater competition. Astral and Bell plan to launch a range of new French-language services, including Investigation, based on the Discovery TV franchise with programming specific for Quebec audiences. Bell’s new JV with Cirque du Soleil will also contribute to the creative industry. The TV and film benefits package will include C$23.8 million for feature film initiatives in the Harold Greenberg Fund, C$18.8 million of which will go to French-language projects. An additional C$4 million will fund the creation of a French-language Television Format Development Initiative for independent producers, directors, writers and actors. An additional C$5 million will go toward Telefilm Canada’s Private Donation Fund, and C$4.9 million will be invested in French-language youth programming initiatives. C$43.65 million will be dedicated to French-language programming as part of a C$68.21 million investment in the development, creation and production of additional TV programming of national interest.

"Astral and Bell are ready to propel Canadian broadcasting forward by raising the bar in consumer choice, programming innovation and industry competition. Our proposal includes major investments in a broad range of new TV, radio and film content, and the development of innovative ways to deliver this fresh and compelling media to consumers across all platforms," said George Cope, the president and CEO of BCE and Bell Canada. "This new application to the CRTC clearly demonstrates the tremendous value the combination of these two all-Canadian media brands will mean for the Canadian public and their broadcasting industry."

"Canadians want more new options in the way they access the best local and national programming, and they want a competitive and dynamic Canadian broadcasting industry," added Ian Greenberg, the president and CEO of Astral. "Our new application to the CRTC outlines how a united Astral and Bell Media will deliver what the Canadian public is asking for."

"Bell Media and Astral are committed to bringing the very best Canadian and international content to consumers in all the ways they want. Innovative viewing options like TMN Go from Astral and Bell Media TV Everywhere are just the start of the world-class products we’ll create that rival anything that international broadcasters offer—and we guarantee investment in Canadian content and our broadcasting community that they can never deliver," said Kevin Crull, the president of Bell Media. "We’ve based our revised proposal closely on the range of feedback we’ve heard from consumers, and we’re ensuring that their direct participation in our industry will grow."