6 of 10 Canadians don't approve of Bell's plan to purchase Astral Media
Bell Canada Enterprises (BCE) president and chief executive officer George Cope (L) and Ian Greenberg (R), president and chief executive officer of Astral Media Inc., speak at a news conference in Montreal, March 16, 2012. (REUTERS/Christinne Muschi)
MONTREAL - A new poll suggests six in 10 Canadians disapprove of the purchase of Astral Media by Bell when told the resulting company would control 38% of the TV market and 29% of the radio market in Canada.
Ontarians are most opposed to the move, with 64% against the move, according to the survey conducted by Forum Research.
About a quarter of respondents (24%) are fine with the purchase, while 16% said they have no opinion.
"Media concentration may seem highly technical, but it is clear that Canadians are forming their own opinion on the ownership control of the national airwaves," Dr. Lorne Bozinoff, president of Forum Research, said.
The poll results are based on a sample of 1,720 randomly selected Canadians and are considered accurate to plus or minus 2.36%, 19 times out of 20.
If BCE merges with Quebec-based Astral Media, it will control 24% of French-language content in Quebec. That's less than the 30% controlled by Quebecor, a long-dominant Quebec media company, which owns QMI Agency and Sun Media.
On Tuesday, consumers' rights group Option consommateurs launched a petition on its website to invite the public to oppose the takeover.
Unions and the Societe Saint-Jean-Baptiste in Quebec are also lobbying against the purchase.
Cogeco, Eastlink and Quebecor have jointly launched a "Say No to Bell" campaign. It has received support from Rogers, Telus and the Canadian Cable Systems Alliance (CCSA), who say transaction is not in the interest of consumers and would be bad for competition.
The Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has received 1,635 petitions, particularly from businesses, organizations and individuals asking that the transaction not be allowed.