Mobile TV App Case Continues in Federal Court


If you thought Bell Mobility’s Mobile TV case was closed now that we have a ruling from the CRTC, well, it’s not. The two parties – Bell and the CRTC – will present their arguments in front of the Federal Court of Appeal, so Bell has one more chance to prove that everyone is wrong.

Following the CRTC’s ruling to change the pricing of its Mobile TV app (at $5/mo you got up to 10 hours of programming streaming with no impact on your monthly wireless data cap), Bell has filed an application with the Federal Court of Appeal, as it believes it has a case against the regulator.

As detailed by the Globe and Mail, arguments in this case will revolve around whether the app should be considered a broadcasting or telecom service. The CRTC’s decision, which forced Bell to hike the price to $8/mo and treat all content equally, relied on a rule in the Telecommunications Act which prohibits telcos giving themselves or any other player “undue or unreasonable preference.”

Bell, on the other hand, says the regulator has mistakenly characterized the Mobile TV app as a telecom service, since the app falls under the rules of the Broadcasting Act, which does not include the aforementioned conditions.

“Bell Mobility’s retransmission of its Bell Mobile TV programs by telecommunications is part and parcel of ‘broadcasting,’” the company wrote in a filing with the court ahead of Tuesday’s hearing. “The entire activity from the acquisition and aggregation of programming to its retransmission by telecommunications to the public is thus excluded from the Telecommunications Act when done by a broadcasting undertaking such as Bell Mobility operating Bell Mobile TV.”

Lawyers from the federal government, however, support the CRTC’s ruling, arguing that the regulator’s conclusion is reasonable, because “the activity in question involves providing a mode of transmission, or a mere carriage function.”

“It does not involve the kind of programming-related activity to which the Broadcasting Act is directed and therefore does not fall within the exemption for broadcasting,” the government lawyers wrote in a court filing. “The application of [the undue preference section of the Telecom Act] permits the CRTC to ensure that vertically integrated carriers such as [Bell] do not leverage their market position to favour certain services and reduce competition and consumer choice.”

Now it remains to be seen what the judge(s) will decide based on the arguments presented.