Videotron to challenge CRTC ruling on set-top box data sharing

Quebecor intends to challenge another CRTC ruling in court in an attempt to lift conditions of licence related to the sharing of data from Videotron set-top boxes.

Quebecor intends to challenge another CRTC ruling in court in an attempt to lift conditions of licence related to the sharing of data from Videotron set-top boxes.

Videotron believes the regulator is overstepping its authority by requiring it to provide data to a third party.

In a June 28 decision, the CRTC denied Videotron’s attempt to be exempt from certain licence conditions related to the incoming national set-top box-based audience measurement system. The company walked away from a working group of broadcasters in April.

In its application, Videotron maintained that the measurement system being developed will only slightly improve Numeris’ current system and do little to help broadcasters make more effective programming and scheduling decisions or monetize advertising more effectively. Videotron also argued that it owns the data in question and this should remain the case, saying that while the data from the set-top boxes could meet the needs of independent programming undertakings, it could also serve as an opportunity for Videotron to diversify its revenues to be able to continue investing in its network.

The commission received interventions in opposition to Videotron’s application from Rogers, Blue Ant Media, Pelmorex Weather NetworksCBC, the Independent Broadcasters Group, and Groupe V Média.

In a press release issued today, Videotron asserted its position that “the Broadcasting Act contains no explicit provisions empowering the CRTC to force operators to share their facilities with third parties as a condition of licence, and certainly not for the purpose of giving third parties a commercial advantage.”

“Contrary to the CRTC’s claims, these new conditions of licence will do nothing to stem the decline in subscriptions to cable TV services. The real solution is to modernize the regulatory framework for the broadcasting industry and to drop historical regulations that are not suited to current content consumption trends. Canadian broadcasters would then be in a better position to compete with the global giants,” the press release continued.

“Videotron does not believe that the CRTC’s general power to impose conditions of licence gives it unlimited discretion. Videotron hopes the CRTC will stay within the bounds set by Parliament and is therefore asking to be released from the conditions of licence in question.”

Set to initially come into effect in September, the CRTC has now extended the deadline for implementation of the new measurement system to Jan. 15, 2020.

This is the second court challenge the Quebec cable and telecom giant has lodged in the last month, after The Federal Court of Appeal agreed to hear Quebecor’s argument asking for a CRTC decision to be overturned stemming from its ongoing carriage dispute with Bell. At the heart of Quebecor’s argument is whether the CRTC has jurisdiction in the case or whether it has gone beyond its powers and interfered in negotiations.


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