In the latest development in the Bell v. Group TVA carriage dispute saga, Bell has slapped Quebecor with a $150 million lawsuit over its “Fair Value” campaign.
Quebecor has revealed in a post to its corporate website that it received notice of the suit Thursday. The company says that instead of responding to its invitation to negotiate, Bell has chosen to use “diversionary tactics” and accuses the company of “monopoly behaviour.”
Quebecor did not elaborate on the suit’s claims and Broadcast Dialogue has not obtained a copy of the legal action.
Last week, the CRTC suspended the broadcasting licence for Quebecor-owned TVA Sports, but said that suspension would only go into effect if its signal is withheld from Bell prior to the resolution of the ongoing carriage dispute. The decision followed a hearing to show cause why the commission shouldn’t issue a mandatory order requiring Group TVA to comply with Discretionary Services Regulations after it pulled TVA Sports’ signal for Bell TV customers Apr. 10, just as the NHL playoffs were getting underway.
Quebecor said it would abide by the decision, but that it was assessing its legal options.
The company maintains a channel should have the right to withdraw its signal in order to counter the bargaining power of the broadcasting distribution undertakings and that final offer arbitration should be voluntary. Quebecor is calling for a rebalancing of the royalties paid to specialty channels, based not on historical rates on each channel’s fair market value according to objective, but measurable criteria such as ratings, popularity in pick-and-pay plans, and spending on programming.
Following this new development, Quebecor says it intends to “assert its rights” before the court.
“As for the statements of this procedure, they are shameless and abusive, both on the surreal sums claimed and on its desire to undermine Quebecor in its constitutional and fundamental right to express itself. Bell’s request to stop the TVA advertising campaign has already been rejected by the Superior Court of Quebec on April 15,” Quebecor stated.
Broadcast Dialogue was unable to reach a Bell Media spokesperson for comment.
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