Bell Mobility gets slap on the wrist for violating broadcast orders

In a broadcasting decision handed down today, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) says Bell Mobility has violated the regulator’s New Media Exemption broadcasting orders.

After a complaint by Telus Communications, the federal regulator investigated and found that Bell had given itself a significant competitive advantage by entering into exclusive agreements for the mobile rights to popular National Hockey League (NHL) and National Football League (NFL) content.

In simple terms, Bell was trying to develop monopoly which would force Canadians to have to subscribe to Bell Mobility if they wanted to view football and hockey broadcasts wirelessly.

“Canadians shouldn’t be forced to subscribe to a wireless service from a specific company to access their favourite content,” said Konrad von Finckenstein, Q.C., Chairman of the CRTC. “Healthy and fair competition between service providers will promote greater choice for Canadians.”

In its complaint to the CRTC, filed almost a year ago, Telus says it made repeated attempts to negotiate mobile carriage for its customers of NHL and NFL content but was rebuffed by Bell. The NHL content in question included game and video highlights, while the NFL content includes prime-time games, all playoff games (including the Super Bowl) and access to NFL Network programming.

After hearing both sides, the commission found that Bell did indeed give itself an undue preference and subjected Telus to an undue disadvantage, contrary to the New Media Exemption Order.

So, after spending almost a year to render a decision which finds that Bell Mobility is guilty of violating the Canadian Broadcasting Act, what financial penalty did the CRTC impose on Bell. Absolutely nothing.

The agency, which costs taxpayers over $50 million annually decided that its punishment would be to write a report within 30 days explaining how it will ensure that Telus has access to its NHL and NFL content at reasonable terms.

Perhaps a more fitting punishment might have been, write “I shall not attempt to be a monopolist” on the CRTC blackboard a million times.

Discuss the CRTC decision in Digital Home’s Bell Mobility Forum discussion forum.

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