After Quebecor cut off TVA Sports’ signal for Bell subscribers at the start of the NHL playoffs last week, Bell is now asking the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to revoke the channel’s broadcasting licence, CBC News is reporting.
Robert Malcolmson, Bell’s senior vice-president of regulatory affairs and government relations, has pleaded that the CRTC should suspend the channel’s licence at least until after the Stanley Cup final.
“Withdrawing the signal was an affront to viewers, to the commission and the rest of the participants in the broadcasting system who play by the rules. It was also illegal,” said Malcolmson as he presented Bell’s case at a CRTC hearing Quebec yesterday.
Meanwhile, Quebecor CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau has called into question the commission’s power to force the service to continue during the dispute, especially when one side doesn’t want to maintain a business relationship with the other. He asked the regulator to allow Quebecor to remove its signal while negotiations are underway:
“In order to ensure the survival of our television, we must be equitably compensated.” In response to a CRTC lawyer who pointed out the risks of ignoring commission orders, Péladeau said he is ready to consider pulling the plug on the sports channel.
“A suspension may pave the way to the death of TVA Sports,” he said. Later, at a news conference, he continued in the same vein. “After tens and tens of millions of dollars in operating losses … if the board is not able to provide rates that are reasonable … the probabilities of closing TVA Sports are very high.”
Malcolmson, however, argued that CRTC should issue a mandatory order to maintain the signal, since the injunction requiring Quebecor to restore service expires on April 23.