Bell Media Appeals CRTC Decision on License Renewal
Bell Media has filed an application with the Federal Court of Appeal to contest a decision by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), according to the Canadian Press (via CTV News, a Bell Media property).
The CRTC renewed Bell Media’s broadcast licenses for an additional three years, extending them until August 2026. Bell Media argues that the renewal was made without a public hearing, which could result in the regulator prejudging issues that the company had previously outlined in its applications to the CRTC last June.
The issues Bell Media raised in its application to the CRTC include a request to reduce its spending obligations on Canadian content and to eliminate the requirement for a set number of hours per week of local news broadcasting. The company has stated that its local television stations and broadcast news services are under financial strain, requiring regulatory action.
In the legal documents filed in June, Bell Media disclosed that its news operations incurred an average annual loss of approximately $28 million each year from 2016 to 2019. The company reported that this loss escalated to $40 million in 2022. Bell Media blamed its increasing financial strain on the dominance of web technology giants in the Canadian advertising market.
Bell Media supports the newly enacted Bill C-18, or Online News Act, which the federal government says will force Google and Meta to pay traditional news media when users share news links online.
Despite Bell Media saying it is losing money on local news operations, the company also owns exclusive NFL rights in Canada, along with the Super Bowl, the most-watched single event on the planet every year, which also commands some of the highest TV advertising rates.
The CRTC released its decision on August 8, announcing the administrative renewals of broadcasting licenses for major companies, including Bell Media. However, the regulator has yet to rule on Bell Media’s specific requests concerning programming obligations.