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CRTC approves Astral, BCE deal

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has approved the application by Astral Media to sell its television and radio stations to BCE. The approval comes with several conditions, including the sale of 10 radio stations and 11 television services, as well as restrictions on bundling. The conditions are intended to address concerns about concentration of ownership. According to the CRTC, following the sales BCE will have a 22.6% share of the French-language television market and 35.8% of the English-language television market. "Astral's application put forward a different approach and responded to many of our concerns," said Jean-Pierre Blais, chairman of the CRTC. "Yet there remained a significant risk that BCE could exert its market power to limit choice and competition. To ensure the public interest is served, we are requiring BCE to invest in new Canadian programming and sell more than a dozen services, and we are putting in place a number of competitive safeguards. This will maintain a healthy and competitive broadcasting system that offers more programming choices to Canadian consumers and citizens and more opportunities for Canadian creators."

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