Sun. Mar 3rd, 2024

TV broadcast: the BCE boss pulls the plug alarm bell

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Mirko Bibic says the CRTC cannot wait for the end of its regulatory review process to to act. (Archive photo)

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About a week after asking for the creation of an aid fund for broadcasters, BCE, the parent company of Bell Media, is returning to the charge, still in the context of the Broadcasting Council hearings. and Canadian Telecommunications (CRTC) with a view to renewing its regulatory framework. This time, its president, Mirko Bibic, called for a reduction in restrictions for the media here, calling on the organization to “act immediately”.

While appearing on the show Zone économique, broadcast on ICI RDI, Mr. Bibic supported, like from his counterpart at Quebecor, Pierre Karl Péladeau, that the industry is in the middle of a crisis. In the opinion of BCE's big boss, the current business model no longer works.

To correct the situation, Mr. Bibic asks the CRTC to act immediately and not at the end of its regulatory review process, which should take another two or three years.

According to BCE big boss, a four-point plan must be adopted to ensure that the Canadian television and radio broadcasting industry keeps its head out of trouble ;water.

First of all, he says, we must reduce the regulatory burden on traditional broadcasters, which would not result in a drop in local production, assures Mr. Bibic, but rather in a drop in contributions from broadcasting companies. #x27;here, a reduction which would be offset by the imposition of an obligation, for foreign platforms, to contribute to this same fund intended for Canadian production.

Part of this contribution would also be devoted to the creation of information content. BCE would incur losses of around $40 million each year in its information sector. Overall, advertising revenues reportedly fell by $130 million.

When will companies say they need to reinvest in advertising? I don't know. We believed last year that it would rebound during the second half of 2023. This did not happen. Is it going to be the second half of 2024? I don't know, mentioned the president of BCE earlier in the day, during an interview with The Canadian Press.

Still at Economy Zone, Mr. Bibic clarified that the CRTC must force foreign companies to conclude agreements with broadcasters here in order to make major American content more easily accessible north of the border.

Listen to Mirko Bibic's interview at “Economy Zone”.

We should also not fear the blocking of content intended for Canadian users, as is the case with news for Facebook and Instagram users, maintains Mr. Bibic.

The context is completely different; There's no chance Netflix would leave Canada because that would mean giving up revenues of about $1 billion a year, he said. Netflix has millions of subscribers [in Canada] who give it $12, $13, $14, $15 a month, every month.

Ahead what he describes as unfair competition, Mr. Bibic does not suggest that BCE would be ready to bury the hatchet in the latent confrontation which opposes it to Quebecor, even if the two companies offer the same solutions, he admits.

The president of BCE thus did not answer a question concerning the pooling of the forces of Bell, Quebecor and Radio-Canada, for example, with a view to the creation of a single broadcasting platform video content.

I think the solution is not there. We need a new regulatory framework that will level the playing field.

A quote from Mirko Bibic, CEO of BCE

In mid-June, BCE cut 1,300 jobs, in addition to closing six radio stations and selling three. Several journalist positions have been abolished. Already, the company blamed unfavorable public policy and regulatory conditions.

In the same breath, the company turned to the CRTC a week later to demand an end to local news requirements for its television stations, judging that these obligations are based on outdated market realities.

In 2022, BCE made profits of approximately three billion dollars, up just over 1% from compared to the previous year.

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