The Competition Bureau has rejected a CBC complaint about an Olympic television partnership forged by Bell Globemedia and Rogers Communications.
In a news release yesterday, the bureau said the alliance, which plans to bid for the rights to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and 2012 Olympic Games, does not violate the Competition Act.
"The bureau carefully examined the allegations and found no evidence to suggest that a Bell Globemedia-Rogers partnership would impair the CBC/Radio-Canada's ability to compete for the broadcasting rights," the bureau said.
The CBC filed its complaint in August after a Globe and Mail report revealed Globemedia and Rogers were planning to team up to bid for the television rights to the two Olympics.
The CBC argued that the alliance cornered the market on the two major sports networks -- TSN, owned by Globemedia, and Sportsnet, owned by Rogers. The CBC said the partnership denied it a major Olympic sports cable partner.
The CBC also said the Globemedia-Rogers deal raised issues under the abuse of dominance, mergers and criminal provisions of the act.
The bureau said it found no evidence that competition would be substantially lessened.
Even without TSN or Sportsnet, the CBC still has the option of aligning with The Score sports channel or Corus Entertainment, which owns the women's channel, W, as well YTV and TeleLatino.
Paul Sparkes, senior vice-president of corporate affairs for Bell Globemedia, said the CBC was trying to suppress competition.
"Of course we are delighted that the Competition Bureau saw through CBC's baseless complaint," he said. "But we're deeply disappointed that this complaint by the CBC was ever launched in the first place. It demonstrates how far the CBC will go to stifle competition at the taxpayers' expense."
The CBC complaint underlines the high-stakes battle for the broadcasting rights to the Vancouver Games. The domestic Olympics are expected to be a windfall for the media group that acquires the rights. Television audiences will be huge, and sponsorship revenue will likely reach a record high.
The CBC and Globemedia-Rogers are the two main groups bidding for broadcasting rights to the 2010 and 2012 Games. They will present their proposals to the International Olympic Committee in February, and the IOC will award the rights a few days later.