Council doesn’t support Bell purchase of EZ Rock

City council declines to support Bell buyout of Astral Media, which includes Revelstoke's EZ Rock radio station

A few years ago, you could have watched the council debate on the local cable channel, or heard about it from the Revelstoke EZ Rock radio reporter. Neither cover city council meetings anymore — and that’s the point, said city councillors.

At their Aug. 14 meeting, city council gave the thumbs down to a written request from Astral Radio morning host Jeff M. Reisen for support for Bell Canada’s purchase of Astral Media.

Bell Canada proposed a $3.4-billion purchase of the Montreal-based Astral Media in March. The purchase includes 24 TV channels and 84 radio stations across the country — including Revelstoke’s EZ Rock.

Competitors and other opponents of media ownership concentration have decried the purchase and asked the CRTC to intervene.

Revelstoke city council’s concerns were more local.

City councillor and former radio jock Steve Bender said the takeover was not good news for smaller markets like Revelstoke. “It is just not of any kind of potential advantage or any kind of real advantage … if they reflected their local markets more, especially markets our size,” Bender said. “And a big consolidation like this, that all totally goes out the window, and it has for the last 20 to 25 years. So I can’t support it.”

Coun. Chris Johnston said the takeover amounted to “a growing monopoly” for Bell: “I don’t know if that’s right or not, but that’s what I see.”

Coun. Phil Welock likened the change to a buyout of Revelstoke Cable a couple years ago by a Saskatoon-based cable and internet provider YourLink Inc. “Things got worse then, so I think the same thing can happen here with this,” Welock said.

Council voted unanimously against writing a letter to support the buyout.