BCE wants Quebec-based Vidéotron to remove its Vrai service, recently released documents from the Canadian Radio and television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) reveal.
Launched in August 2021, Vrai features original French productions that can be watched on-demand.
BCE claims Vrai isn’t operating in accordance with the CRTC’s hybrid video-on-demand (HVOD) order by offering a internet direct to consumer (DTC) option, according to a part 1 application the organization filed with the CRTC.
An internet DTC allows customers to directly purchase the service online.
According to the order, BCE says the service must also be available over the internet for all Canadians to access. While that can be done, the application states the current DTC option has a number of problems and isn’t compliant with the HVOD order.
The problems, according to BCE
When it was launched in August, Vrai was only available to Vidéotron customers. While that has since changed, and Vrai can be purchased by Canadians, BCE’s application states the offer is “designed not to sell.”
BCE says Vrai’s internet option is “significantly more expensive.” It’ll cost $15 a month to purchase online. If people were to access Vrai by subscribing to Vidéotron’s service, it would cost $7 a month.
Customers who access Vrai online can only get one stream at a time. In comparison, BDU subscribers can get up to five.
Online customers can only access the service through an app or website, and not on a larger screen. In comparison, Vidéotron subscribers can access the platform through multiple forms, including Apple TV or Android TV.
Customers who want to subscribe to the DTC are also automatically redirected to Vidéotron’s websites and TV subscription offers. Customers who refuse these offers, and don’t register with Vidéotron, won’t be able to access Vrai online.
“By providing such an inferior DTC offer for Vrai, Vidéotron is offering Vrai on an exclusive or otherwise preferential basis that is dependent on subscription to its own BDU service,” and is “contrary” to the policy set out by the CRTC, the application states.
The ask to CRTC
BCE says Vrai can’t operate as an HVOD service until it provides a “viable DTC option.” Until then, the CRTC must work quickly to “immediately order” Vidéotron to remove Vrai from its TV subscription offer.
A procedural letter from the CRTC confirms the request has been received. It states Vany interventions and Vidéotron’s answers must be submitted by February 10th. A reply from BCE is due February 15th.
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