Québecor cut TVA Sports signals to all Bell TV customers mere minutes before the NHL Playoffs began on Wednesday night.
In doing so, the communications company ignored a warning from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) that withholding access to the channel would break its rules.
TVA Sports is the exclusive French-language broadcaster of the NHL Playoffs, meaning that Bell’s French customers who are looking to tune into the hockey games are currently out of luck.
Québecor is denying access to TVA Sports over a royalties dispute with Bell.
Both companies license channels to one another, although Québecor claims it is not being paid enough for TVA Sports.
Last month, the company launched a website called fairvalue.ca in which it argued that Bell’s specialty French-language channels like RDS get much higher subscription wholesale fees than TVA’s do. Québecor has called for customers to switch over to channels offered by its Vidéotron subsidiary instead.
Bell, meanwhile, stated that its RDS channel brought in 67 percent more viewers on average than TVA Sports last year. As a result, Bell said it “will not devalue the clear fan favourite” by paying Québecor more for TVA Sports.
Meanwhile, as compensation for the TVA Sports disruption, Bell is temporarily offering its Sportsnet channels to its TV customers for free to view the NHL games in English.
Quebecor is denying Bell TV clients access to TVA Sports. That’s against the law. Bell wants to ensure hockey fans can still enjoy the playoffs and is temporarily offering Sportsnet, Sportsnet One and Sportsnet 360 at no extra cost.
— Bell (@Bell) April 10, 2019
The CRTC says it will soon decide what it will do next in regards to the dispute.