Telus Cries Foul to CRTC on Shaw-Canwest Deal

by Gaurav Kheterpal on September 23, 2010

While Shaw claims Canwest is as an “essential” purchase, Telus is crying foul to CRTC over the matter alleging that there’s a strong need for regulating such deals which lead to “unfair” trade practices. Though Shaw has publicly assured one and all that it won’t stop competitors from distributing its television content over wireless devices, Telus seems to be in no mood to buy that argument.

It will be interesting to see how CRTC reacts to Telus’ claims that Shaw could give itself “undue preference” in content distribution with Canwest in the bag.

As our fellow blogger Jordan Richardson mentioned, Shaw says that it purchased Canwest Global Communications to save Canada’s broadcasting companies from sure defeat. The company maintains that Canwest deal is the need of the hour because “the Googles and the Apples and everyone nipping at our heels.” While Shaw is trying to project itself as the savior of Canada’s broadcasting industry with its PR exercise, I agree with Jordan that this is an opportunistic effort by the company to make profits out of Canada’s troubled media sector.

I concur with Telus that Shaw can use the Canwest purchase to get an upper hand even though the latter has vowed not to keep content exclusive. Shaw can emerge as a monopolistic player in the HD segment by refusing to give competitors access to high-definition versions of its programs, or it can charge a fortune from competitors for such services. Similarly, Shaw can leverage its unique position to influence delivery for lucrative specialty channels as HGTV Canada. BusinessWeek mentions that Telus has asked the CRTC to impose “unequivocal and enforceable rules” to stop Shaw from engaging in “abuse of market power”.

Of course, Telus is no saint either when it comes to ethical business practices. It was recently pulled by CRTC regarding its exclusive CFL broadcast deal. Though the carrier maintains that the CFL mobile app is available to all wireless providers, and only some features are exclusive to Telus users, I don’t think it will manage to get away with such arguments.

With Bell mopping up CTV and Shaw picking Canwest, Telus has good reasons to be worried. Though the carrier has reiterated its stand to stay away from the “content rat race”, it might be forced to come up with a Plan B if Shaw-Canwest deal clears the legal hurdles with CRTC.

As Jordan said, “The fun has already begun!”

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Written by: Gaurav Kheterpal. www.digitcom.ca >. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com > by: RSS>, Twitter >, Identi.ca >, or Friendfeed >

{ 1 comment }

Jordan Richardson September 23, 2010 at 4:48 am

I do think it’s interesting that Telus is playing basically two hands here. On one, the company says that it has no interest in the content deals out there. But on the other, they’re constantly trying to put regulatory attention on Shaw and their competitors.

This smells an awful lot like the simple complaints of someone who’s missed the bus. Now Telus would like us all to believe that they didn’t want to take the bus anyway. Yeah, right.

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