CRTC rejects Bell complaint over Rogers NHL app

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the country’s media regulator, has dismissed a complaint by Bell Media that rival telecommunications company Rogers is unfairly offering exclusive access to its GamePlus mobile application.

GamePlus offers bonus NHL ice hockey content, including various camera angles and customised replays, to Rogers customers who are watching games via its online GameCentre Live service. Bell had argued that GamePlus should be available for free to all subscribers of GameCentre Live, regardless of whether they are a Rogers customer.

Bell argued in its filing in October that the content is “inextricably linked” to the television programming and alleged that Rogers was trying to use a loophole in the commission’s exemption of digital media from regulation. However, the commission dismissed the argument, saying that it is fine to offer exclusive online content “as long as it is not created mainly for traditional television.”

Commission chairman Jean-Pierre Blais added: “In order to stand out, creators, producers and distributors have to be creative and find innovative ways to create and deliver content to Canadians through digital media. Rogers' GamePlus service is a complementary service available online to enhance the viewer's experience. I encourage other companies holding broadcasting rights to be innovative online to in order to provide Canadian and international audiences with content that they want to see.”

Bell spokesman Scott Henderson said: “We appreciate the clarity the decision provides and will look for opportunities to apply it across our properties.”