The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has approved Rogers’ acquisition of Shaw’s broadcasting services, subject to a number of conditions and modifications. The CRTC has also set out several safeguards to ensure that the transaction benefits Canadians and the Canadian broadcasting system. As part of this transaction, Rogers is acquiring 16 cable services based in Western Canada, a national satellite television service and other broadcast and television services. The CRTC’s approval only deals with the broadcasting elements of the transaction under the Broadcasting Act. The wider Rogers-Shaw merger deal – agreed in March 2021 – must still gain approvals from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) under the Radiocommunication Act and the Competition Bureau under the Competition Act.
The CRTC has also required Rogers to pay five times more in benefits to the broadcasting system than it had originally proposed. As a result, Rogers will contribute CAD27.2 million (USD21.7 million) to various initiatives and funds, including those that support the production of content by Indigenous producers and members of equity-seeking groups. Benefits will be directed to the Canada Media Fund, the Independent Local News Fund, the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund and the Broadcasting Participation Fund, among others. Rogers must also report annually on its commitments to increase its support for local news, while the CRTC is imposing safeguards to ensure independent programming services are not placed at a disadvantage when negotiating with Rogers. For instance, Rogers must distribute at least 45 independent English and French-language services on each of its cable and satellite services. The CRTC’s statement added: ‘Rogers currently operates cable services in several provinces, a dozen over-the-air television stations, several national discretionary TV services and over 50 radio stations across Canada. Shaw and Rogers did not operate in the same markets prior to the transaction.’