TVA Sports’ signal cannot be withheld from subscribers during a dispute
April 18, 2019 – Ottawa-Gatineau – Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)
After urgently calling TVA Group to appear at a public hearing to explain its decision to block TVA Sports’ signal for Bell Canada subscribers, the CRTC imposed a mandatory order requiring TVA Group to comply with its regulations.
The order will be registered with the Federal Court and will become an order of the Court. Failure to comply with this order may result in contempt of court proceedings, and the Court has the authority to impose fines or other corrective measures it deems appropriate.
In addition, should TVA Group again withhold or interfere with the TVA Sports signal before the dispute is resolved, TVA Sports’ licence will automatically be suspended for the duration of time that the signal is not provided to Bell Canada.
The CRTC created the standstill rule to protect Canadians from losing access to television services during commercial negotiations between broadcasters and television service providers.
“The CRTC is very concerned by TVA Group’s actions. Not only are their actions a serious violation of our regulations, but hundreds of thousands of Canadians were deprived of a channel to which they are subscribed. We have made it clear to TVA Group that we will take all necessary actions to put an end to this unfair practice. Holding a licence is a privilege, not a right. With privileges come certain obligations, and we expect TVA Group to fulfill these obligations.”
-Ian Scott, Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer, CRTC
The CRTC found that TVA Group violated the Discretionary Services Regulations by withholding TVA Sports’ signal from Bell Canada’s subscribers during a dispute.
A licensee that does not comply with a regulation or order may be prosecuted under the Broadcasting Act and is subject to fines of up to $250,000 for the first violation and $500,000 for each subsequent violation.
The CRTC can suspend the licence of a licensee that fails to comply with the regulations or an order.
If a licensee continues its broadcasting activities while its licence is suspended, it could be prosecuted for broadcasting without the authorization required under the Broadcasting Act and could be subject to fines of up to $200,000 for each day of violation.