A court order has compelled Quebecor to restore access to its French-language TVA Sports channel for Bell TV customers, after defying two CRTC directives earlier in the week and cutting service just as the NHL playoffs got underway Wednesday night.
Quebecor executives will appear at a CRTC hearing on Wednesday, Apr. 17 that will determine whether its broadcast licence should be suspended.
“Bell puts our customers first, and we’re committed to doing what it takes to get them the TV service they deserve,” said Martine Turcotte, Bell’s Vice Chair, Québec. “Quebecor denied TVA Sports to our Bell TV customers, directly targeting sports fans just as the playoffs began, while also falsely claiming it was Bell that was shutting off the channel. It is reckless behaviour on Quebecor’s part, and we are glad the Superior Court put a stop to it.”
The injunction is the latest development in an ongoing carriage dispute between the two companies over TVA Sports, which Quebecor is attempting to renegotiate at a higher price per subscriber. Bell argues it doesn’t have its French-language sports offering RDS priced as high and yet, according to Bell drew 67% more viewers in 2018 than TVA Sports.
Quebecor president Pierre Karl Peladeau maintains Bell has an unfair advantage in the market. He’s calling for pricing for carriage rates to be based on performance criteria “that reflect viewers’ interests.”
Bell says it has negotiated in good faith, making three counter-offers from its original proposal. It’s filed a request with the CRTC to resolve the issue through final offer arbitration.
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