The head of the CRTC said the proposed merger between BCE and Astral Media is not a good deal for Canadians.

Therefore, Jean-Pierre Blais has denied BCE the right to acquire Astral for $3.4 billion.

“We had grave concerns that BCE would be able to use its market power in an unfair manner and to engage in anti-competitive behaviour," Blais said.

Were the deal approved, BCE would gain control of 107 radio stations, TV networks CTV and CTV2, plus 49 pay and specialty stations, which altogether approaches nearly 45 percent of the English language TV audience in Canada.

Phil Lind, Vice-Chairman of Rogers, responded favourably: "We commend the CRTC for this courageous decision. We believe that Canadians should have fair and open access to content. This is a good day for consumers."

BCE has appealed to the Federal cabinet to overturn the decision, partly because of the close dealings the CRTC had with rival cable companies before denying the merger.

The Conservative government said it would not intervene, leaving BCE with the option of filing with the Federal Court of Appeals or approaching the CRTC with a different proposal.

Astral stands to collect a hefty $150 million break fee if the deal dies.

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