Quebecor takes note of today’s decision by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and will abide by it. The Corporation will, however, assess its legal options and notes that the legality of the CRTC’s intervention is a subject of debate.
We understand the legal reasoning behind the decision. However, it behooves us to repeat that the problem remains. The dramatic imbalance in the specialty channels’ subscription fees has serious consequences for the viability and survival of French-language television. We also want to reiterate our desire to see the CRTC and the Government of Canada move more quickly to make the changes necessitated by the radical transformations buffeting our television industry. The Commission can count on our full cooperation in producing a regulatory framework that will make it possible for us to operate on a viable basis. Immediate action is needed.
The status quo is no longer an option, commented France Lauzière, President and CEO of TVA Group.
Bell must recognize the problem that is affecting the entire industry and agree to negotiate in good faith. We have offered to do so on numerous occasions, including before Québec Superior Court and the CRTC, and we remain committed to the proposition. Our specialty channels must remain strong for the benefit of Québec cultural workers and French-speaking viewers.
Quebecor is calling for a rebalancing of the royalties paid to specialty channels, based not on historical rates on each channel’s fair market value according to objective, measurable criteria such as ratings, popularity in pick-and-pay plans, and spending on programming. Consumers shouldn’t have to pay more for their television package; it is up to the industry to adjust. A channel should also have the right to withdraw its signal in order to counter the bargaining power of the broadcasting distribution undertakings. Finally, final offer arbitration should be voluntary.