Quebecor sent a message to viewers on TVA Sports on Saturday noting the latter’s channel would go off air just ahead of the Stanley Cup Playoffs because “Bell has decided to penalize you.”
Viewers were told to contact their cable TV company such as Cogeco, Rogers, Telus and Quebecor’s subsidiary, Videotron, to ensure they don’t miss service. Another suggested option was to subscribe to TVA Sports Direct, Quebecor’s digital subscription service.
Quebecor alleges Bell is being unfair and has launched a website Justevaleur.ca to argue the inequality when it comes to revenues amongst broadcasters.
Bell fired back at Quebecor yesterday, saying the latter’s move is an “illegal threat to deny Bell TV customers access to TVA Sports.”
Martine Turcotte, Bell’s Vice Chair, Québec, said in a statement, “Quebecor’s reckless campaign and illegal actions are all about our negotiations over pricing for its TVA Sports channel and Bell’s Media’s RDS sports network.”
“Quebecor actually wants to charge Bell more to access its TVA Sports channel than Quebecor/Videotron is willing to pay for RDS. However, the reality is that RDS is the leading French-language sports network by far, consistently outpacing TVA Sports in both content and viewership, and Bell Media will not devalue the clear fan favourite,” added Turcotte.
Bell Media says 2018 audience figures show their RDS viewership “was on average 67% higher than for TVA Sports.”
“Bell will continue to negotiate with Quebecor in good faith as we always have and we look forward to a fair resolution. Our focus is always on delivering for the fans, and that’s why RDS is #1,” said Turcotte.
The response came after Quebecor chief executive officer Pierre Karl Péladeau said in a speech at the Canadian Club in Ottawa on Monday, TVA Sports gets less revenue from subscribers versus Bell Media’s French sports offering, RDS.
“We have the same amount of investment and almost the same market share. But we’re not paid appropriately,” said Péladeau (via The Globe and Mail).
Très heureux de m’être adressé aux membres du @cdnclubottawa ce midi. Pour l’avenir de nos chaînes spécialisées, la juste valeur doit prévaloir. Visitez https://t.co/GuRlcheVzt https://t.co/6rIx7EqOjg #TVA #justevaleur pic.twitter.com/NpVP5TvaV2
— Pierre Karl Péladeau (@PKP_Qc) April 8, 2019
“It’s like if you were to reward a hockey player that scored 20 goals a year, he would be better paid than a guy scoring 50 goals. That doesn’t make sense. You should reward success; you should not reward monopoly, you should not reward incumbency,” argued the CEO.
According to The Canadian Press, Quebecor will follow through with its threat to cut off TVA Sports access to Bell subscribers, starting Wednesday, the launch of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. This is despite the CRTC ordering Quebecor to not cut off TVA Sports to Bell subscribers, in a directive issued Monday.
The only way for Bell TV’s French-language customers to watch playoff hockey will be through Sportsnet, owned by Rogers, or through CBC or Videotron, Quebecor’s subsidiary.