12/02/2013 12:32 EST | Updated 02/01/2014 05:59 EST

Cellphone Industry Targeted In Government's $9M Ad Campaign

The federal government is spending $9 million on ads targeting Canada's cellphone companies, a government official says.

Earlier this fall, Industry Canada launched newspaper and radio ads, as well as a website, ostensibly to publicize the government's efforts to promote competition in the wireless industry. Television ads soon followed.

But the television ads contain no reference to the government's auction of additional wireless spectrum, which is intended to allow new providers to enter the market.

"There’s been a lot of talk about wireless competition in Canada. Fact is, our largest wireless companies hold over 85 per cent of the airwaves," the ad's narrator begins.

"And Canadians pay some of the highest wireless rates in the developed world."

Actors in the ad say they want “More choice,” “lower prices” and “better service.”

Industry Canada is spending $8 million on the ads, while Public Works is providing an additional $1 million.

'Providing Canadians with more choices'

New Democrat MP Glenn Thibeault tabled a question on Oct. 16 asking Industry Minister James Moore how much his department was spending on the ads and for the website design. The government has 45 days to respond to written questions tabled in the House.

The print and radio ads started in September, while the TV ads started Nov. 4 and will run until Dec. 22. The TV ads are worth $2.6 million of the total being spent.

A spokesman for Moore said the ads tell Canadians about the government's wireless policy.

"Our government has an obligation to ensure the facts about our wireless policy are communicated to Canadians. These ads provide those facts," Jake Enwright said in an email to CBC News.

"Our policy to increase competition in the wireless sector is providing Canadians with more choices and access to the latest technology at lower prices."

Enwright refused to say how long the ads would run, or on what specific date they started.

The wireless industry had its own ad campaign running earlier this year as American company Verizon was rumoured to be considering entering the Canadian market. The company later said it wouldn't be coming to Canada.

The government made a promise in the throne speech in October to force wireless companies to limit cellular roaming fees. It also promised to force many of those same companies to unbundle TV channels in their cable television businesses.

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