Québecor Media says Bell Canada Enterprises (BCE) complaint against Vidéotron’s Vrai service is an inaccurate interpretation of the rules, according to documents filed with the Canadian Radio and television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and shared with MobileSyrup.
Québecor Media is the proprietor of Vidéotron. The document filed with the CRTC is in French.
In its application filed with the CRTC, BCE wants Vidéotron to remove its Vrai service. The feature allows users to watch original French productions and launched in August 2021.
BCE claims the feature violates the CRTC’s hybrid video-on-demand (HVOD) order by offering a flawed internet option that presents the service directly to consumers.
BCE says all Canadians should be able to access the service online, and while that is the case, the company argues Vrai’s internet option is more expensive. It costs Canadians $15 a month to purchase the service online. In comparison, BCE says if Vrai’s accessed through a subscription to Vidéotron’s services, the price tag will lower to $7 a month.
Québecor Media’s response
In its filing, Québecor Media argues the service is accessible through QUB, a platform that hosts all of the company’s content. Consumers don’t have to be subscribers of any of its other services or any other company to access the platform.
Québecor Media also argues Bell’s claim that Bell TV subscribers can’t participate in the Vrai service, stating it failed to mention that anyone can access the service through the QUB platform for free. The company says all consumers receive the same content, whether they access the Vrai platform through Vidéotron or the QUB.
Québecor Media says many customers who don’t subscribe to Vidéotron have already subscribed to the service in its free alternative manner.
In its application, BCE states customers who are viewing Vrai online can only access one stream at a time. But BDU subscribers, who can have access to a large number of programming services, can view up to five streams at a time.
Québecor Media says the differences in streams aren’t because one method of distribution is favoured over the other, but because of limitations surrounding the negotiations of content rights. The company argues Bell customers who subscribe to its streaming service Crave through the Fibe TV app will also only get one session at a time.
BCE says customers accessing Vrai without subscribing to Vidéotron can only do so through the app or website and can’t access the service in other formats. Vidéotron subscribers, in comparison, can access through Apple TV and Android TV, BCE says.
Québecor Media puts this claim in the “false” section, stating QUB works with Chromecast and Airplay. The company also says BCE’s claim that subscribers accessing the service online are redirected to subscriptions for Vidéotron’s services is false. It says customers can access Vrai through the applicable options, and one option isn’t favoured over the other.
Québecor Media is asking the CRTC to dismiss BCE’s application. BCE has until February 15th to reply.