According to Rogers CEO, someone who gives you money is a “consumer”.

When it comes to The Media Monopoly, Ben Bagdikian literally wrote the book on the subject back in 1983, and since then media ownership has continued to be controlled by fewer and fewer players.

Fewer owners mean fewer choices, fewer jobs, fewer voices being heard, and fewer checks and balances in terms of what companies can charge and get away with legally.

The “blanding down” of our news, entertainment, and culture may not be at “Big Brother” on our “how fucked are we” meters yet, but all credible indicators continue to creep in that direction.

So of course I find it disturbing when I read that Rogers seeks to buy Shaw for $20.4-billion in deal that would transform Canadian telecom market.

But let’s get down to the brass tacks

A CBC article attempted to make that “medicine” go down with a spoonful of sugar with their sub-heading “Rogers to invest $2.5B in 5G networks across Western Canada over next 5 years as part of transaction”.

News of the proposed takeover reminds me of an announcement from November 9, 2020. Entitled Connecting all Canadians to high-speed Internet. The following quote sums up the announcement:

“The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced an investment of $1.75 billion to help connect Canadians to high-speed Internet across the country, grow businesses, and create jobs.

So who is really paying for improvements to those networks?

Win, lose, or draw, Rogers gets your money

That amounts to taxpayer money being used to build infrastructure that companies like Rogers will use to distribute content to people, and of course charging those same people.

Prime Minister Trudeau gifting nearly $2 Billion to improve high-speed Internet across the country means that even if a Canadian taxpayer chooses not to subscribe to Rogers services, they will be giving money to Rogers. And in some areas of Canada, being able to not choose a company like Rogers is not a realistic choice.

People who give you money are consumers?

Regarding the $20 Billion acquisition, Rogers chief executive Joe Natale said:

“This combination is the right thing for Canada and consumers,”

The CEO of Rogers, a company ranked as #289 Canada’s Best Employers 2021 by Forbes, has the audacity to refer to his customers as consumers? And he has this attitude a mere 4 months after those same people had gifted his company $1.75 billion via the Prime Minister?

Personally, I wouldn’t consider someone effectively giving me money a consumer, nor would I refer to Kris Kringle as “Santa Consumer”.

When we give money to a company, we are a partner, not a consumer

When I choose to do business with a company or give them money in exchange for their goods and services, I am a partner with a stake in the company’s success. If my local baker goes out of business, I can no longer get the bread I like, and jobs are lost in my neighbourhood.

Can you imagine a small business referring to their customers as consumers? With that attitude, I wouldn’t imagine them staying in business very long. Even sports celebrities have enough sense to say things like “without the fans we’d be nothing.”

Who is the real consumer, Canadians or the CEO of Rogers?

People who are subscribers of Rogers services contribute to the success of Rogers, both financially and in other ways. As a matter of fact, the Prime Minister’s largesse with Canada’s coffers makes every single Canadian a contributor to Rogers, whether we like it or not.

On the other hand, what about Rogers President and CEO Joe Natale, the man who refers to his subscribers as consumers?

Certainly, his salary and total compensation consume financial resources that would otherwise go to shareholders, and perhaps infrastructure improvements or wages for other Rogers employees.

And just how much does Mr. Natale consume?

According to Notice of 2020 Annual General Shareholder Meeting and Information Circular, his total compensation averaged over $12 million per year from 2017-2019. Here is a breakdown:

According to Rogers, CEO Joe Natale also sits on the Board of Directors at both The Hospital for Sick Children and Soulpepper Theatre Co.

I wonder if Mr. Natale refers to sick children as “consumers” as well?

*Painting of The Lion Hunters 2021, Oil on wood panel 25 x 30 cm by Mark Seabrook

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