Saturday, March 17, 2012

Bell eats Astral Pie

So, BCE Inc. (owns Bell Media) bought Astral Media this week. I’ve noticed lately that a lot of media I consume is Bell Media. It’s interesting to think of the advertising, PR, and propaganda possibilities with such a conglomerate. So, here’s a snippet from a Toronto Star article to explain the purchase, followed by my rant. Yay!  
BCE Inc.
The telecom giant has been moving into the media space to ensure content ownership in Canada, as it competes with Rogers Communications and Quebecor.
Last year, it bought 100 per cent of CTV and started Bell Media, a new business unit to make television programming available on smartphones and computers.
Bell Media operates 28 conventional stations as well as 30 specialty channels, including Business News Network, Discovery Channel, Much, MTV, The Comedy Network, Space, and TSN and RDS.
It also owns 32 radio stations, including TSN Radio, and Dome Productions, a mobile broadcast facilities provider, and dozens of news, sports and entertainment websites including
It also has acquired a minority stake in the Montreal Canadiens, and it is joining with rival Rogers Communications to buy a chunk of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which is due to close in mid-2012.
Astral Media
Astral is Montreal-based company founded in 1961. It owns many familiar television channels such as Family, Disney Junior, Teletoon, to premium channels such as The Movie Network and HBO Canada. In Quebec, it operates 13 French-language channels Canal Vie, Canal D, VRAK TV and MusiquePlus.
Astral also has 84 radio stations in 50 markets, including CJOB 680 and QX 104.
It also has 9,500 outdoor traditional and digital billboards in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia, which Bell sees as a growing market.
While this acquisition is an example of capitalism, it is also an example of corporatism—well not yet, but a step in that direction. See, it would be different if the people governed the people; however we have career politicians that are influenced by big business’s lobbying and influence.
I suppose my concerns are mostly unjustified, in BCE Inc. at least, it’s more of a philosophical issue. And even though this is the natural progression of capitalism… it’s like all businesses circle around a drain—like in a bathtub. The rich get richer, and buy up the poorer, until everything is in the hands of two or three corporations in that sector with a myriad of divisions and subsections so you don’t start thinking “hmmm… you know, everything I like to watch and listen to is owned by Bell Media.”
See, that’s what I’ve been finding I’ve been saying to myself. I love the Jets, so I watch TSN and the Jets channel—all owned by Bell Media. I also like to listen to them, and TSN 1290 owns the broadcast rights—Bell owns TSN 1290.
Bell also owns CTV, which broadcasts my favorite local TV news program, of course, CTV News… with Gord Leclerc, lol.
And when I’m not consumed by Jets or news, I like to sit back and watch some Big Bang Theory or South Park on Comedy Network or American Pickers or some documentary on History Channel or Discovery. Oh… Bell Media owns all those eh?
Just a tad bit concerning when the majority of the media I consume comes from one place. And I sure hope there is a high level of trust in an organization with that much control in the greatest propaganda tools known to man.

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