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  1. #1
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    Independent BDUs balk at Bell deal

    According to this story,
    http://www.cartt.ca/news/12880/Cable...Bell-deal.html

    Cogeco, Eastlink, Telus, MTS, and others are refusing to sign an omnibus agreement with Bell for up to 30 Bell-owned specialty channels, saying that it violates the "code of conduct" stipulations against demanding minimum levels of penetration and revenue.
    Last edited by Donovan's Monkey; 12-08-2011 at 08:53 AM.

  2. #2
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    Here is the full article if you cannot read it though the link provided.

    -------------------------------------------------

    Vertical Integration fallout: Independent BDUs refusing to sign Bell deal

    December 08, 2011 By Greg O’Brien

    OTTAWA – A number of Canada’s independent cable operators have balked at signing a new omnibus carriage agreement for the up-to 30 specialty channels owned by Bell Media and instead are demanding the CRTC step in and decide who’s right.

    According to sources with direct knowledge of the agreement and the ongoing battle, both Cogeco Cable and the Canadian Cable Systems Alliance have been through a few rounds of official CRTC staff mediation, which hasn’t yielded much in the way of results. It now looks like the disputes are headed towards binding, final offer arbitration in front of a CRTC commissioner in the new year, although nothing has yet been set.

    Other carriers also known to be objecting to the Bell Media carriage agreement include EastLink, Telus and MTS. While Videotron and Shaw Communications have both put pen to paper and signed the Bell affiliate agreement, announcing it publicly, Rogers Communications has yet to make an announcement and it’s not clear at this time whether or not the company has signed.

    Cogeco and the CCSA (which represents about 100 independent carriers) are farthest along in their formal complaints which were initially filed with the Commission in August, prior to the new vertical integration policy announcement.

    According to a source who has seen the proposed agreement, the independent, non-vertically integrated BDUs are not objecting to the wholesale rates Bell is demanding for its specialties, but to the packaging and penetration demands. “It says we have to agree to the status quo for the next five years,” said the source who asked not to be named since non-disclosure agreements have been signed by all parties involved.

    “Five years is an awful long time in this world. You don’t want to be locked into those packaging deals for that long... and the minimum penetration requirements in it means you can’t move channels around.”

    The independent BDUs feel that Bell Media is not abiding by the Code of Conduct set out by the Commission in the Vertical Integration policy decision in September. That code says, among other things, that a programmer should not in its agreements demand “minimum penetration or revenue levels that force distribution of a service on the basic tier or in a package that is inconsistent with the service’s theme or price point;” nor refuse “to make programming services available on a stand-alone basis.”

    Besides, as part of the vertical integration decision, the Commission also asked the carriers for proposals which will provide consumers with more choice or more flexibility in how they pick the TV channels they want to pay for. “So Bell is saying all existing packages for existing services have to continue while at the same time, the Commission is demanding more packaging flexibility to provide consumer choice,” he added. “We’d be screwed if we signed these deals and then can’t provide any flexibility at all.

    “On the rates, we think we’ll probably have to bite the bullet on things like TSN. Sports has gone up in price and everybody knows that.”

    Given that Bell Media has switched some popular programming to RDS2 (hockey) and also owns the rights to the Winnipeg Jets broadcasts in Manitoba, Videotron and Shaw were most likely getting pressure from its customers to add these new channels, “so it’s no surprise they signed,” said the source.

    The CRTC declined all comment on the matter when contacted about this by Cartt.ca on Monday, but CRTC chairman Konrad von Finckenstein let the industry know what he is thinking about the Code of Conduct when he said to Cartt.ca last week: “It is there in order to regulate the behaviour between BDUs and small independent (broadcasters), or the behaviour between large programmers and small BDUs, whichever way it goes. There is a clear set of expectations. Abide by it. You do it at your own risk if you don’t.”

    When contacted by Cartt.ca on Monday, Bell confirmed there are BDUs who have not yet signed the contract, that complaints are ongoing at the Commission and that no final arbitration sessions have been scheduled. Mirko Bibic, Bell Canada’s senior vice-president, regulatory and government affairs defended the company’s contract, saying it has already been signed by companies representing 85% of Canadian TV subscribers. He declined to name the companies but adding the subscription totals of Videotron, Bell TV, Bell Aliant, Shaw Communications and Rogers all together (about 8.8 million) gets close to 85% of all Canadian pay TV subscribers (nearly 11 million).

    “We are indeed talking to a few distributors who still today remain out of contract despite the fact that market terms have been established for carriage of our services through the signing of well over 140 new deals with BDUs representing more than 85% of subscribers,” said Bibic in an e-mail.

    “While we would prefer to reach deals through commercial negotiations, we will not hesitate to use CRTC mediation and/or final arbitration if that is what is needed to conclude deals with the last few BDUs. Needless to say, it is untenable for those BDUs to continue to carry our very valuable content without contracts being in place.”

    Which leads us back to Bell’s vehement objections to the CRTC vertical integration policy, which boasts a new standstill rule where broadcasters are not allowed to withhold their signals during a dispute such as this one.

    “Now, at the whiff of any dispute between a programmer and a BDU, one of the parties can raise their hand and the CRTC will intervene and set the terms and conditions. That’s called price regulation and the CRTC had said it was not in the business of regulating price – but now they are,” said Bibic to Cartt.ca back in September.

    “It’s completely unnecessary and the heaviest form of regulation possible in any industry.”

    There will be more to come on this as we wait to see where it goes.

  3. #3
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    If Telus, EastLink, MTS and Cogeco have a good enough lawyer, they could probably could convince the court to force Bell to sell off Bell Media using the Bell Canada Act.
    "And Now for Something Completely Different..." - John Cleese (Monty Python).

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    The Bell guy complaining that this is price regulation is full of crap. It actually allows far more freedom to set prices for whatever they think people are willing to pay (at least for news and sports channels). What the Bell guy doesn't like is how it may also give us (the viewers) the chance to decline paying for channels we don't want or are too expensive. That's probably why they are trying to renew their present contracts as quickly as they can to keep the status quo for as long as possible, before the CRTC edict to give the consumers more pick-and-pay is implemented.
    Last edited by Donovan's Monkey; 12-08-2011 at 04:09 PM.

  5. #5
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    Vidéotron was already providing Bell Media's specialties in à la carte offerings, the most popular ones in popular packages, the less popular ones in the most expensive ones. And they had something to get out of that deal: Carriage of Quebecor channels on Bell TV, including Sun News and TVA Sports.

    Shaw and Rogers probably had similar advantages from that deal. Off course, those hybrid broadcasters-BDUs companies represent 85% of of Canadian TV subscribers... and that is Mirko 5% Bibic's strongest point? He used the same "numbers" arguments during the UBB crisis last year. He's like saying, "What we're doing is wrong, but look at the numbers, everybody else is doing it so why don't you?"
    "It's not a rerun if you haven't watched it yet." (© 2010 by TVViewer)
    "Ne jamais s'obstiner avec un épais. Il va vous abaisser à son niveau et vous battre avec l'expérience."

  6. #6
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    Well this is no surprise, Bell acting like the big bully on the block. I hope these companies continue their fight although I am not sure if they will win in the end since this dispute will be going binding arbitration. Bell is bigger and stronger so they have more influence and will probably get their way in the end.

    It appears as though the big conglomerates are all ignoring the CRTC's decision regarding providing consumers more choice. Bell & Shaw have so far done nothing while Rogers has initiated a 'trial' in London regarding new customizable packages that are only slightly better then their current offerings- still no a la carte though. It will be interesting to see what the CRTC does about this, if anything. Their power is quite limited unfortunately and with the existing commish on the way out perhaps that is why Bell, Rogers & Shaw are ignoring them?! They are probably waiting for the next guy to come in who will probably veto this decision as its not in the best interests of the conglomerates.

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    Can someone tell me if Rogers has not signed yet would Bell & Rogers aslo have to go to mediation?

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    Bell will now allow channels to be available "unbundled", but charge more -- likely much more for something like TSN -- in deals for indivdual channels.
    http://business.financialpost.com/20...but-at-a-cost/

    It will be interesting to see how this evolves over the next few months or couple of years.
    Do the BDUs all collude to try to keep the status quo, with us paying for dozens and dozens of channels we never watch? Will there now be many more packages available, each with a smaller number of channels? Or something even more flexible, with almost every specialty channel available individually or in different packages?

    Will BDUs, particularly independent ones, reduce their basic service to a low cost but bare bones selection of only local free over-the-air stations and the very small number of mandatory-on-basic cable channels, with everything else optional?
    Will Bell, Rogers, Shaw, and Quebecor also follow this "skinny basic" path, or instead include their own channels and none of their competitors specialty channels in basic?

    Will the available packages be set by company, in addition to (or instead of) programming genres? If you are a Rogers or Shaw customer, will there be a package of 30 or more Bell Media channels including all of Bell's specialty channels and some CTV and CTV2 stations from other time zones? It would allow each BDU to simply pass along the cost of the other conglomerates channels to customers. Rogers and Shaw could just say "if you don't like that we're requiring you to pay $10 a month to get TSN by itself, complain to Bell because they set the price, not us."
    Last edited by Donovan's Monkey; 08-25-2012 at 07:24 PM.

  9. #9
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    Well this is no surprise, Bell acting like the big bully on the block. I hope these companies continue their fight although I am not sure if they will win in the end since this dispute will be going binding arbitration.
    Knowing how tough Bell is, this matter will take time to find any result at all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aime View Post
    Knowing how tough Bell is, this matter will take time to find any result at all.
    Although it did take a long time, it's over. The CRTC sided with Bell.

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    I know many of you here don't like Bell, and i'm not a huge fan of the company myself, however, put yourselves in Bell Media's position. Their deal was fair enough for HUNDREDS of cable companies, including major competitors such as Rogers, Shaw, Shaw Direct, Sasktel, Videotron, ect. to accept. Hundreds of cable companies representing 85% of subscribers accepted Bell's deal. You then have some cable companies representing 15% of subscribers wanting a better deal than everyone else. If they give into the demands of that 15% then the 85% is going to want the same deal. What makes more sense for Bell Media? Of course it makes more sense to try and convince the 15% to accept the deal hundreds of BDU's representing 85% of subscribers accepted. Any business would do the same. Bell is hardly a bully in this situation.

    Now let's put ourselves in the position of the Canadian Independent Distributors Group (CIDG). The CIDG could care less about what's fair for television channels, they don't own any channels and they only care about their own profits. These are direct competitors to Bell, the less money Bell Media gets the worse it is for Bell. It's in their best interest to ensure that their competitors channels earn as little money as possible. It's great for them if Bell Media starts draining money from BCE.

    So with this in mind, it's really no surprise the CIDG didn't accept Bell Media's deal. Since Bell Media isn't allowed to pull their signals the CIDG has absolutely no incentive to sign Bell Media's deal. If they take their chance with arbitration they have a good chance at getting a better deal than their competitors who signed Bell's deal, giving them a competitive advantage and hurting the profits of Bell along the way. The CIDG had nothing to lose, the worst case scenario is they end up paying the same price with the same deal as their competitors.

    Finally, BELL'S DEAL WON in CRTC arbitration. If Bell's deal was so unfair then the CRTC would have sided with the CIDG.

    Just because the company is smaller and "independent" doesn't always mean they are right. Just because they say Bell Media's deal was unfair doesn't mean it is, of course they will say that, they had no incentive to sign! If Bell Media's deal was so unfair then none of Bell's competitors would have signed. Hundreds did.

  12. #12
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    The final arbitration decision may have chosen Bell's proposal over the other side, but remember that Bell's intention before this process started last year was to force everyone into taking all of their channels, in defiance of the CRTC edict to provide more choice to consumers. The other side had already won before the final decision by forcing Bell to cave in.
    What remains to be seen is if (or how) this will work its way down to us. Will we ever actually be offered any choice, or will the alleged "choice" be to get TSN by itself for $30 a month or in a package of all the other Bell channels that also costs $30 a month?

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by TVViewer View Post
    Their deal was fair enough for HUNDREDS of cable companies, including major competitors such as Rogers, Shaw, Shaw Direct, Sasktel, Videotron, ect. to accept. Hundreds of cable companies representing 85% of subscribers accepted Bell's deal.
    (...)
    Just because the company is smaller and "independent" doesn't always mean they are right. Just because they say Bell Media's deal was unfair doesn't mean it is, of course they will say that, they had no incentive to sign! If Bell Media's deal was so unfair then none of Bell's competitors would have signed. Hundreds did.
    But, you have to take a look at the biggest picture.

    Bell, Rogers, Shaw, Videotron and Cogeco are serving millions of subscribers. Since each channel costs them 0.44$ per month in average, they can easily charge them individually 1$, 1.50$ or 2$ or put them together in packages and make more than 100% profits. So yes, they can easily afford Bell Media's new rules and signed the deal without hassle. At the end of the year, it doesn't really affect their profits. So this "85% majority agreed" is just a too easy statement.

    Follow me in this story.

    Phone (and cable) companies had monopoly status in the 70's and 80's, but in exchange for this status, they had an obligation to provide phone service to every home, even remote ones, at a fixed price. If it costs 45$ a month to provide service to someone living far away on a farm, the customer pays 25$ and the CRTC gives 20$ to the phone company to make up their loss.
    (Source (article in french): http://affaires.lapresse.ca/opinions...s-telecoms.php)

    Over the years, Bell brought a few independent companies where they can make profits, deregulated those areas in order to increase prices and make profits, and left alone the small companies in rural areas operating in monopoly status where there's no money to be made. Same thing happened with cable.

    Back in may 2011, the CRTC agreed to eliminate monopoly, and therefor agreed to modify the ceiling of the price they can charge to customers to 30$.
    (Source: http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2011/2011-291.htm).
    Consequently, homephone service is already increasing in some areas and the small companies are expecting the big corporations to install a CO and take away only their commercial clients and nearby clients, leaving them only the costly rural customers.
    (Source (article in french): http://affaires.lapresse.ca/opinions...ee-de-bell.php)

    So, big picture, independent cable companies serve 15% of population in rural areas, it costs a LOT to provide service to residents living far away, their monthly bills are high enough, and the companies already make 100% profits on each channel they distribute because they need that money to keep operating, some of them at a loss. Bell Media is asking more money and are dictating them how to build their packages. If they agree to Bell's deal, independent cable companies will have to charge more to subscribers, who will have enough and get... a Bell satellite dish (or a Shaw Direct dish).

    So, how fair is that? How many employees will lose their jobs?

    Bell Media wants every rural resident to pay for TSN on basic cable regardless if they watch it or not, just to get maximum revenues, but after expenses, they made 58.3 million in profits in 2011, 42.4 M in 2010, 32.3 M in 2009, 39.9 M in 2008, 41 M in 2007, and so on. They ain't poor, and making amends won't affect their bottom line.
    "It's not a rerun if you haven't watched it yet." (© 2010 by TVViewer)
    "Ne jamais s'obstiner avec un épais. Il va vous abaisser à son niveau et vous battre avec l'expérience."

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    in defiance of the CRTC edict to provide more choice to consumers.
    You mean the edict that they have yet to enforce and the one that all the major BDU's have given the finger to and are totally ignoring! :mad:

    The CRTC needs to be given more power (like the FCC has in the US) so they can actually enforce the regulations they put in place and ensure that the BDU's and/or broadcasters are abiding by these rules. They do not even have the power to levy fines, its no wonder then that Bell, Rogers & Shaw are not taking them seriously and don't give a crap what rules they pass.

    The final arbitration decision may have chosen Bell's proposal over the other side, but remember that Bell's intention before this process started last year was to force everyone into taking all of their channels. The other side had already won before the final decision by forcing Bell to cave in.
    You are absolutely correct, Bell wanted to play dictator and force everyone to abide by their rules instead of the rules the CRTC has put into place that are supposed to govern the entire broadcasting industry. This damn company needs to be split apart into 100 pieces, no one company should have this much power and clout over regulators.
    Last edited by CDN Viewer; 07-28-2012 at 01:10 PM.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by InMontreal View Post
    But, you have to take a look at the biggest picture.

    So, big picture, independent cable companies serve 15% of population in rural areas.
    Much of that 15% is made up of Telus, MTS, Eastlink, Cogeco, ect.. who serve the same markets as (not to mention directly compete against) other cable companies who accepted Bell's proposal. It's not fair for Telus or MTS to get a better deal than Shaw. In fact many members of the CCSA operate in the same markets as cable providers who accepted Bell's proposal.


    The big picture is available on the CRTC's website. Don't base your opinion on one article. These companies wanted a better deal than everyone else, they had no incentive to sign Bell's deal and nothing to lose so they took their chances with the CRTC, they lost and Bell won.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by CDN Viewer View Post
    Seriously?!

    Those companies were FORCED to accept the deals Bell made them otherwise they would have lost access to popular channels like TSN & Discovery Channel. Furthermore, how do you know the deal was 'fair'- did you talk to any execs at Rogers or Shaw, asking them about the deal they signed with crap hole Bell?! I am sure if they were speaking 'off the record', the word fair would not have come up in the discussion.
    They wouldn't have lost access to TSN or Discovery Channel if they didn't sign Bell's deal. Bell isn't allowed to pull their channels, even if they can't come to an agreement. If Bell's deal was unfair then why did hundreds of Bell's competitors accept it? Why didn't they join the small group of BDU's opposing the deal? If Bell's deal was unfair then the CRTC would have sided with the few distributors trying to get a better deal. The CRTC sided with Bell.

    The fact that Bell was able to sign carriage deals with hundreds of distributors even though they aren't allowed to pull their signals (which gives Bell little leverage and gives their competitors little incentive to come to an agreement) proves just how reasonable Bell's deal is. Bell's competitors had little to lose not accepting their proposal, yet Bell still managed to sign deals with hundreds of distributors.

    Since you were unaware that Bell wasn't able to pull their signals you have clearly based your opinion without learning all the facts.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by CDN Viewer View Post
    The CRTC rule applies to disputes, which means while the two sides are negotiating and trying to work out their differences, the channels cannot be pulled. It does not however say anything about what happens if the two sides fail to reach a deal, in that instance I would think the broadcaster is well within their right to pull the channels since they aren't getting paid.
    Out of a contract, they are still getting paid under the same fees.

    Since Canada opted for a Category A-B-C system, it's obvious that if a dispute is happening, they can't pull CTV nor Cat A specialties like TSN or Discovery, but they can pull Cat B channels like Animal Planet, ESPN Classics or Comedy Gold.
    "It's not a rerun if you haven't watched it yet." (© 2010 by TVViewer)
    "Ne jamais s'obstiner avec un épais. Il va vous abaisser à son niveau et vous battre avec l'expérience."

  18. #18
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    [quote=CDN Viewer;57394]

    So you are telling me that if the two sides failed to come to an agreement that Bell would not have removed the channels?!
    That's exactly what i'm telling you (that’s exactly what happened with the CIDG) Bell IS NOT allowed to pull their channels if an agreement can't be made. It's the exact opposite of what happens in the U.S., if the CIDG group and Bell Media were American companies would have lost access to all Bell Media specialty channels MONTHS ago. Bell Media absolutely hates this since it takes away their leverage. If Bell really had the CRTC in their back pocket then they would be allowed to pull their channels, this CRTC requirement is the exact opposite of what Bell wants.


    Why would they keep sending the signal to Telus if they have no agreement and thus are not getting any money from them- they are not going to give the channels away for free?!?
    Those BDU's are not getting Bell's channels for free, they are getting them under the terms of the old expired contract. Which again, is the exact opposite of what happens in the U.S., American BDU's would absolutely love this situation, since it gives them little to no incentive to reach a deal. MTS was even able to get access to the new TSN Winnipeg Jets channel despite not accepting Bell's new deal.

    The CRTC rule applies to disputes, which means while the two sides are negotiating and trying to work out their differences, the channels cannot be pulled. It does not however say anything about what happens if the two sides fail to reach a deal, in that instance I would think the broadcaster is well within their right to pull the channels since they aren't getting paid.
    No, this is a perfect example of what happens. Bell and the CIDG failed to reach a deal. They couldn't come to an agreement, negotiations ended and the contract expired. When this happens you end up in CRTC arbitration both sides submit a final offer and the CRTC decides who has the fair proposal. The CRTC decided that Bell's final offer was fair and now the CIDG has to accept Bell's deal. Telus submitted a final offer separate from the CIDG and the CRTC sided with them since their final proposal “offered a unique packaging and pricing model, which offers consumers greater choice, while at the same time satisfying Bell Media’s need for revenue predictability”

    You clearly pre-judged Bell without learning all the facts. Was Bell totally in the right? Probably not. But the CIDG isn't some innocent party simply looking out for consumers. It's a group full of direct competitors to Bell who have no interest in the profitability of television channels.

  19. #19
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    Paradis leaves BCE-Astral deal in hands of CRTC
    JOSH O’KANE
    The Globe and Mail
    Published Tuesday, Aug. 28 2012, 9:38 AM EDT

    Federal Industry Minister Christian Paradis isn’t taking a position on BCE Inc.’s proposed takeover of Astral Inc., despite a new initiative from a group opposed to the deal encouraging Canadians to write the minister in protest.

    He is leaving all judgment to the Canadian Telecommuinications Radio-television Commission and the Competition Bureau, which, as arms-length institutions, “will do what they have to do according to the law.”

    Continue: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe...rticle4504696/
    "It's not a rerun if you haven't watched it yet." (© 2010 by TVViewer)
    "Ne jamais s'obstiner avec un épais. Il va vous abaisser à son niveau et vous battre avec l'expérience."

 

 

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