MONTRÉAL, April 18, 2019 /CNW Telbec/ – Bell today welcomed the decision by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to issue a mandatory order to Quebecor prohibiting the broadcaster from denying its TVA Sports channel to Bell TV customers.
Quebecor faces serious penalties if it ignores order
Because the CRTC also registered its order with the Federal Court, Quebecor could be held in contempt of court if it decides to again ignore the CRTC’s directives. Additionally, the CRTC advised Quebecor that it will automatically suspend its broadcast licence if it breaches the order.
“The CRTC has made clear that broadcasters must follow the law and that reckless and unfair actions like Quebecor’s will lead to very negative outcomes,” said Martine Turcotte, Bell’s Vice Chair, Québec. “Taking TV viewers hostage by unilaterally cutting off service is not the way to change regulations you don’t like.”
Origins of the dispute
The dispute stems from negotiations between Bell and Quebecor over pricing for a range of specialty TV channels. As part of the negotiations, Quebecor demanded that Bell pay more to access its TVA Sports channel than Quebecor would pay for Bell Media’s RDS sports network. However, RDS is a far more popular French-language sports channel with 67% more viewers in 2018 than TVA Sports, according to industry-standard Numeris audience measurement.
Quebecor’s illegal actions
In addition to cutting off TVA Sports service, Quebecor also made a series of misleading statements that falsely claimed Bell itself planned to remove access to TVA Sports, and directed Bell TV customers to switch to Quebecor’s Videotron cable TV. Quebecor then violated two CRTC directives that stated it must follow the law and make TVA Sports available to Bell TV customers.
Bell sought and won an injunction from the Québec Superior Court that compelled Quebecor to reinstate the channel until April 23, enabling the CRTC to rule on the situation and issue its mandatory order.
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