Telecoms industry and Harper Government

The biggest news of last week was the deal that Rogers concluded with NHL on the broadcasting rights of professional hockey games

The biggest news of last week was the deal that Rogers concluded with NHL on the broadcasting rights of professional hockey games for the next 12 years for more than $5 billion.

This is, by all standards, a major feat for Rogers.

The move was described as a momentous change by the national media with the National Post announcing the development with the headline “NHL’s deal with Rogers turns Canada’s sports television landscape on its head.”

Hockey being the national pastime, or rather the national passion, this latest deal will probably shake some fundamentals in the broadcasting industry.

Apparently in expectation of serious reaction to the deal, Rogers agreed to allow CBC to continue to air its widely popular Saturday night hockey show for the next few years.

This comes at a time when Rogers, alongside other providers of cable TV, wireless and mobile phone services, commonly known as “telecom giants”, are increasingly disdained for doing everything in their power to keep Canadian airwaves under their domination and blocking potential competitors from entering the market.

As recently as October, these members of the telecom cartel in Canada succeeded in their bid, through the federal Appeals Court, to claim the right to take the federal government to court in order to further delay the implementation of consumer friendly regulations introduced last June. These regulations are aimed at shortening mandatory contract periods and making it just a little easier for consumers to switch from one carrier to another as well as reducing roaming data fees.

Now the big three, Telus, Shaw and Rogers are trying to get a court ruling that will delay the implementation of the regulations further behind the June 2015 deadline.

In the meantime, Government of Canada, through commercials run on TV channels, is complaining about high prices and lack of competition in the telecom industry in the country.

One wonders who is to tackle the problem if the government responsible for solving it is complaining to the public.

On its website dedicated to the wireless policy, (http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/icgc.nsf/eng/07389.html), the Government of Canada says in a quote from the Speech from the Throne : “Our Government has already taken action to achieve greater competition. Canadians know that competition is good for everyone. Competition lowers prices and keeps businesses from becoming complacent. As a result, wireless rates have fallen nearly 20 per cent since 2008.”

From that statement, one can conclude that we must have been ripped off pretty badly since the introduction of the wireless phone to Canada, because even after the 20 per cent decline, Canadians are still paying the highest price for the worst wireless service among the OECD nations, according to OECD figures, as reported by the openmedia.ca website (https://openmedia.ca/blog/confirmed-canadians-pay-some-highestprices-some-worst-telecom-service-industrialized-world).

The question is whether this is just another one of Harper government’s gimmicks to look innocent while conniving with the wrongdoing. After the still burning hot Senate expenses scandal, it was revealed last week that Jim Love, Canadian Mint chairman, a close friend of Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s, helped run offshore ‘tax-avoidance scheme’ for his clients.

What a tangled web we weave!