Bell suffered yet another setback to Quebecor, this time in the Federal Court of Appeal on Wednesday after challenging a CRTC ruling that found the telecommunications giant gave an undue preference to its RDS channel in its television offer.
Quebecor had won its case, in 2020, against Bell before the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) after the accused of favoring RDS to the detriment of TVA Sports.
The dispute between the two companies concerned Bell's decision to include the TVA Sports channel in its “Mieux” and “Meilleur” packages, while the RDS channel – owned by Bell – was available in the “Bon” package, less expensive and more popular than the other two.
During its review, the CRTC had determined that the two channels offered similar programming “that is, varied sports programming, including broadcast rights for major league sports and popular sporting events”. The organization had therefore concluded that Bell was treating TVA Sports and RDS differently, depriving the Quebecor channel of a large potential number of subscribers, and had forced Bell to put the two channels in the same TV package.
Bell decided to appeal this decision. However, this approach was finally rejected on Wednesday by the Federal Court of Appeal, which upheld the CRTC's decision.
The dispute between Quebecor and Bell dates back several years, the two companies having had to , in 2014 and in 2017, to an arbitration service by the CRTC to determine the showing that Bell should pay Quebecor for the distribution of TVA Sports.
The Conflict took a new turn in 2019 when Quebecor had decided to cut off access to its TVA Sports channel to Bell subscribers, depriving them of National Hockey League playoff games. The CRTC intervened to force Quebecor to reconnect TVA Sports.