Broadcasting - Commission Letter addressed to Ted Woodhead (Rogers Communications Inc.)
Ottawa, 10 December 2021
Our reference: 1011-NOC2021-0281
Senior Vice President
Rogers Communications Inc.
RE: Application 2021-0228-4 – Application by Rogers Communications Inc. (Rogers), on behalf of Shaw Communications Inc. (Shaw), for Rogers to acquire all of the issued and outstanding shares of Shaw
This letter concerns a request for the disclosure of information filed on 30 November 2021 by Rogers Communications Inc. (Rogers) following the filing of information designated as confidential by the Independent Broadcasters Group (IBG) on 29 November 2021.
Specifically, on 23 November 2021, IBG appeared at the public hearing regarding the potential transaction between Rogers and Shaw Communications Inc., and undertook to provide to the Commission with:
- any related evidence in support of IBG’s initial submission to the Commission by 29 November 2021;
- specific examples of situations involving Rogers when the Wholesale Code, the various vertical integration mechanisms, or undue preference or dispute resolution tools did not provide sufficient safeguards, and whether members of IBG filed a complaint with the Commission regarding such grievances;
- details as to whether any of the independent services that Rogers would carry after the closing of the transaction should be services that specifically advance diversity and representation of equity seeking groups; and
- views on Rogers’ proposals related to supporting application development, such as whether these proposals would benefit IBG’s membership and whether IBG considers that these will serve the public interest.
In its 29 November 2021 submission in response to the aforementioned undertaking, IBG designated documents as confidential and stated that disclosure of this information would result in material financial loss or gain to any person, would prejudice the competitive position of any person or would affect contractual or other negotiations of any person. IBG submitted that the public interest in allowing the Commission to review such confidential information outweighs the public interest in disclosure. It added that should the Commission deny its claim of confidentiality for any of the material, it would request that such information be withdrawn from the record of this proceeding rather than be publicly disclosed.
In reply to IBG’s designation of information as confidential, Rogers requested the disclosure of information that has been designated as confidential, arguing that it would constitute a fundamental breach of the rules of procedural fairness and the principles of natural justice for the Commission to allow information containing unsubstantiated and unproven allegations about Rogers to be filed in confidence. Rogers stated that it is not in the public interest to refuse to disclose this information in this case given that the allegations being made are specifically about Rogers. Finally, it strongly disagreed with IBG’s assertion that the harm that disclosure of the information would cause to its members would outweigh the public interest in disclosure to Rogers.
The Commission notes that IBG designated as confidential the entirety of many documents, including the number of documents, the name of the documents and the parties referenced by the documents. IBG provided the documents as information supporting its written and oral submissions in the 22-26 November 2021 hearing. Since IBG did not submit abridged versions of the documents, the only document that would be publicly available would be the letter detailing the reasons why an abridged version cannot be filed in accordance with subsection 32(2) of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Rules of Practice and Procedure. IBG’s submission contained information responsive to the 23 November 2021 undertaking, and does not include any information extraneous to that which was sought via this undertaking.
The Commission considers that the information filed by IBG is properly designated as confidential and that maintaining confidentiality is of greater public interest than the disclosure or the possibility that the information not be considered as part of the record of the proceeding.
In light of the above, the Commission denies the request by Rogers for the Commission to disclose all of the information filed by IBG in its undertaking.
- Date modified: