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Champagne: public interest will be key in Rogers and Shaw merger decision

Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said today that offering lower wireless prices for Canadians is his priority as he weighs final approval of the merger between Rogers Communications Inc. and Shaw Communications Inc.

His comments come today, the deadline that had previously been set to close the $26 billion deal.

But the companies extended that deadline from Monday to Feb. 17 while they await Champagne's decision.

Let's hear what the industry minister had to say about the decision on whether or not to approve the merger between the two telecom giants.

My role is to protect the public interest, we want better prices and more competition and the best way to achieve that is for there to be a 4th national player. I will make a decision in due course and I will certainly make sure that any decision is in the best interest of Canadians and that the decision will help reduce prices here in Canada. We are still analyzing it, I have not made the final decision, but you remember that I set conditions. First I said no to the transfer of the Shaw license to Rogers and I said that in order to consider any transfer the party acquiring the license would have to keep it for at least 10 years and that Quebec prices would also apply in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta.

The current version of the deal, which was first announced in March 2021 but has evolved significantly in response to antitrust concerns, would now see Quebecor's Videotron acquire Shaw's Freedom Mobile wireless division and all of the company's associated spectrum licenses.

The move, which would expand Videotron's presence in Western Canada as Rogers and Shaw merge to become Canada's second-largest telecommunications provider, would promote competition in the wireless industry rather than diminish it, proponents argue.

Others, including the Competition Bureau, have argued that the move would increase concentration and harm Canadian consumers in the long run.

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