OTTAWA — A pair of public interest advocacy groups have asked the federal telecommunications regulator to delay a public hearing into Rogers Communications Inc.'s deal to buy Shaw Communications Inc.
The Public Interest Advocacy Centre and the National Pensioners Federation said in a letter Monday that the CRTC should postpone the Nov. 22 start of hearings because the boardroom infighting at Rogers has made it unclear who is in control of the company.
The two groups say that since the directors of the company are in doubt, it's unclear whether any submissions made in the name of Rogers continue to be supported by the board, and whether comments made by directors at the hearing will be supported by the company.
"[We] are concerned that the commission will not be able to conduct the hearing in a manner that is fair to all parties and protects the public interest until and unless the confusion surrounding the effective control of Rogers is adequately resolved."
The advocacy groups say that while delaying the hearings would negatively affect Rogers, the potential harm of going ahead with the hearings without certainty as to who is in charge risks greater harm to the public interest.
"Given the significant uncertainty that exists today regarding the corporate control of Rogers, proceeding with the hearing would cause prejudice to the public, the CRTC and to interveners."
The letter comes on the first day of hearings as Edward Rogers, son of late Rogers founder Ted Rogers, tries to have a B.C. court declare legitimate the board he formed after he was ousted as chair last month.
He claims that he has the power to fire and appoint board members because he is chair of the Rogers Control Trust.
However, his mother Loretta Rogers, sisters Melinda Rogers-Hixon and Martha Rogers and their associates say Edward Rogers' board is illegitimate and the only valid board is the one that existed prior to his changes.
Shaw declined to comment on the request by the advocacy groups, while Rogers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Along with the CRTC, the $26-billion deal including debt is also being reviewed by the Competition Bureau of Canada and the federal department of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 1, 2021.
Companies in this story: (TSX:RCI.B, TSX:SJR.B)
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