The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Decima Reports.The CRTC has moved relatively quickly to approve most of the deal between CanWest Global and Shaw to carve up the assets of WIC. Global becomes a national network, Shaw gets lucrative distribution properties, and the TV viewers in western Canada come out, at the very least, even. The next major deal to be examined by the CRTC is BCE’s bid to take over CTV. This is a somewhat different kind of transaction, one involving cross-ownership between Canada’s largest private broadcaster and a dominant telco (which also happens to be Canada’s largest ISP), rather than the filling out of a TV network and the consolidation of distribution properties. Various governments and royal commissions have, over the years, argued against media cross-ownership. The classic case was the situation in London, Ontario, where one family, the Blackburns, owned the local independent daily newspaper, the city’s CBC-affiliated TV station, and the largest radio station in town. Today, Chum owns the TV station in London. The newspaper was sold to the Sun chain, which, in turn, was bought by Quebecor. Is London better or worse off? BCE would be involved in a far more sophisticated cross-ownership, nothing so crass and 20th-century as having blatant control over all the media in a single city. Bell is buying two things: a TV network, which if properly run, would have the financial clout and management skill to keep up with the evolution of a fragmented, digital market. It already has the savvy to win ratings wars against its rivals. Even its news broadcasts are top-rated, despite the advantage the CBC has in infrastructure and its sheer number of reporters. BCE is also buying content for its Internet properties. Bell’s Sympatico will need that content to fend off AOL and the cablecos. So far, Sympatico has been popular because it’s easy to hook up to, and has access to Bell’s extensive customer base. But it’s quality still leaves much to be desired. BCE has made some impressive commitments to Canadian content. These are promises the CRTC wants to hear, but they also make sense when you take into account Bell’s Web needs. While the application is clearly self-serving, BCE’s critics will have a tough time finding any substantive reasons for having it quashed.