CRTC rules against Bell’s exclusive mobile deals

The Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission, Canada’s telecommunications watchdog, ruled that Bell must allow rival telco Telus to stream sports content that is currently only available to Bell’s mobile customers. The CRTC said Bell had a “significant competitive advantage” in being able to stream NHL ice hockey and NFL American football exclusively in Canada, while Telus had suffered an “undue disadvantage”.

Telus filed a complaint with the CRTC in January after talks for a sublicensing with Bell stalled. Telus wanted to sublicense rights to NHL games and highlights and NFL primetime and playoff games as well as NFL Network programming.

The commission gave Bell 30 days to outline how it will ensure Telus can show the NHL and NFL content on “reasonable terms.” However, Bell said in a statement following the decision that it “does not control how the major leagues sell their rights in Canada” and has repeatedly claimed it does not have the authority to sub-licence or re-sell the content.

“The CRTC is imposing itself directly in how independent and in this case international content owners sell their content rights in Canada,” Bell said. “We don’t have the ability to act on the CRTC’s behalf in the way they are demanding.”

In September the commission introduced rules requiring companies with rights to certain television content to offer those rights at a reasonable price to competitors who want to show the content on mobile devices.