Bell says it those against Astral deal acting in their own commercial interests

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MONTREAL - Bell is making its final pitch to the CRTC to buy TV specialty and radio company Astral Media in a $3.4-billion restructured deal.

Bell chief executive George Cope says cable and telecom companies that want the CRTC to deny the merger for a second time, or want Bell to be required to sell even more of Astral's channels are only acting in their own interests.

Bell says it will make content from Astral available on commercially reasonable terms and in a timely fashion, adding it's not in its financial interest to do otherwise.

Astral CEO Ian Greenberg says his company needs Bell to take it to the next level.

Greenberg says he believes the Canadian broadcasting system needs strong players to cope with the rapid technological changes, including challenges from online providers like Netflix.

Bell's revised proposal would, among other things, see Bell sell all of Astral's English language specialty services and one of its English pay TV services. However, it would keep eight of Astral's channels including the pay TV service, The Movie Network.

Organizations: CRTC, Astral Media, Netflix

Geographic location: MONTREAL

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