OTTAWA — Canada’s telecom regulator issued an order Thursday compelling Quebecor to maintain its TVA Sports signal to Bell TV subscribers and threatened to automatically suspend its licence should it fail to comply.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission said the order will be registered with the Federal Court and may result in contempt of court proceedings, including possible fines, if it is not respected.
“In addition, should TVA Group again withhold or interfere with the TVA Sports signal before the dispute is resolved, TVA Sports’ licence will automatically be suspended for the duration of time that the signal is not provided to Bell Canada,” it said in a news release.
Chairman Ian Scott said the commission is very concerned by TVA Group’s action.
“Not only are their actions a serious violation of our regulations, but hundreds of thousands of Canadians were deprived of a channel to which they are subscribed,” he stated.
“Holding a licence is a privilege, not a right. With privileges come certain obligations, and we expect TVA Group to fulfil these obligations.”
A licensee that doesn’t comply with a regulation or order is subject to fines of up to $250,000 for the first violation and $500,000 for each subsequent violation. It would be fined up to $200,000 a day if it continues to broadcast while its licence is suspended, said the CRTC.
The CRTC held a hearing Wednesday to hear Quebecor’s justifications for scrambling the signal of TVA Sports to Bell subscribers on the first night of National Hockey League playoffs before a Quebec judge forced it to restore the signal last Friday.
The standoff between the conglomerates Quebecor and Bell was provoked by a dispute over the royalties to be paid to the specialty channels.
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