ARCHIVED - Broadcasting Commission Letter Addressed to Kevin Goldstein (Bell TV) and Don Gaudet (Stornoway Communications)

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Ottawa, 31 August 2015

Our file: 2015-0819-4

By email

Kevin Goldstein
Vice President – Content and Distribution, Regulatory Affairs
Bell TV

Don Gaudet
VP Programming
Stornoway Communications

Re: Part 1 application by Stornoway Communications Limited Partnership against Bell Canada (including Bell Canada Limited Partnership)


On 17 July 2015, Stornoway Communications Limited Partnership (Stornoway) filed with the CRTC a notice of dispute with Bell Canada (Bell TV) pursuant to section 15.01(2) of the Broadcasting Distribution Regulations (the Regulations) regarding a packaging change to take effect 1 September 2015 in the distribution of Stornoway’s Category A specialty service iChannel. As part of its notice of dispute and pursuant to section 15.01(1) of the Regulations, Stornoway invoked the application of the “standstill rule.”

On 24 July 2015, Bell TV replied to Stornoway’s notice of dispute, alleging that there was no dispute to be considered and that the standstill rule should therefore not apply. Bell TV requested a determination from the Commission on the applicability of the standstill rule.

This letter is the decision of the Commission regarding the above issue.

Commission determination

Section 15.01 of the Regulations states that:

(1) During any dispute between a licensee and a person licensed to carry on a programming undertaking or the operator of an exempt programming undertaking concerning the carriage or terms of carriage of programming services or concerning any right or obligation under the Act, the licensee shall continue to distribute those programming services at the same rates and on the same terms and conditions as it did before the dispute.

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), a dispute exists from the moment that written notice of the dispute is provided to the Commission and served on the other undertaking that is party to the dispute and ends when an agreement settling the dispute is reached by the concerned undertakings or, if no such agreement is reached, when the Commission renders a decision concerning any unresolved matter.

One of the purposes of subsection 15.01(1) of the Regulations is to ensure that subscribers are not inconvenienced while BDUs and programmers dispute the terms and conditions of carriage.

In Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2015-96, issued on 19 March 2015, the Commission set out a roadmap to maximize choice for TV viewers and to foster a healthy, dynamic TV market.  In doing so, the Commission recognized the need to bridge old and new approaches to allow for maximum flexibility in how content is distributed and consumed. The Commission notes that while this regulatory policy has been announced, a number of the key aspects, including amendments to regulations, have not yet been implemented. In particular, the requirement to offer all discretionary services on a pick-and-pay basis or in small, reasonably priced packages, which may either be created by the subscriber or pre-assembled, does not come into effect until March 2016.

According to the record of this proceeding, Stornoway’s affiliation agreement with Bell TV for iChannel expired on 31 July 2011 and the parties have since been attempting to renegotiate a new affiliation agreement following the termination of the agreement. Stornoway was advised by Bell TV on 17 June 2015 that iChannel would be removed from an existing legacy package and repackaged effective 1 September 2015. To continue to receive iChannel, subscribers will have to either subscribe to the channel as a stand-alone service or subscribe to another pre-assembled package. The record of this proceeding to date also indicates that Bell TV does not intend to reduce the charges to subscribers for the package from which iChannel is to be removed. 

The dispute in question is over legacy terms of carriage prior to the implementation of new packaging and regulatory rules intended to enhance subscriber choice. The Commission therefore determines that the standstill rule applies in this case and confirms that Bell TV should not make any changes, including packaging changes, to the carriage or terms of carriage of iChannel until an agreement settling the dispute is reached or until the Commission renders its decision on the associated Part 1 application.


John Traversy
Secretary General

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