ARCHIVED - Suspension Letter Addressed to Peggy Tabet (Québécor Média)

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Ottawa, 16 March 2016
File No.  2016-0241-7

By email

Peggy Tabet
Senior Director, Regulatory Affairs, Broadcasting
Québécor Média

Kevin Goldstein
Vice President - Legal and Regulatory  
Bell Canada

Re: Request for final offer arbitration (2016-0241-7) with respect to Réseau des Sports (RDS)

On 4 March 2016, the Commission received a request from Québécor Média, on behalf of Vidéotron s.e.n.c. (Vidéotron) for final offer arbitration (FOA), pursuant to Sections 12 to 15 of the Broadcasting Distribution Regulations. In its request, Vidéotron sought to establish the rates for the distribution of the Réseau des sports services (collectively, RDS) for i) linear, ii) standalone, and iii) multiplatform distribution.

In its response dated 9 March 2016, Bell Media Inc., on behalf of the RDS services (Bell Media), indicated that it supports proceeding to FOA for the distribution of RDS on a linear basis. However, Bell Media argued that the parties need to agree on the applicable term and penetration tranches before proceeding. Bell Media also submitted that it would be premature to refer the standalone and multiplatform rates to FOA, as there has been limited discussion between the parties in these areas. Finally, Bell Media argued that in the event standalone and multiplatform rates do result in an FOA proceeding, it would be more appropriate to consider them as distinct issues as opposed to as part of one omnibus FOA proceeding.

Bell Media proposed that the parties pursue bilateral negotiations to attempt to resolve these issues. In the event that the linear rate cannot be resolved by 25 March 2016, Bell Media would support the referral of linear rate to FOA. In the event that the standalone and multiplatform rates cannot be resolved by 1 April 2016, Bell Media would support referring any disputed issues to the Commission for staff-assisted mediation.

On 11 March 2016, Vidéotron replied to Bell Media’s response, contesting Bell Media’s view that limited negotiations with respect to standalone and multiplatform rates had occurred. Vidéotron was also of the view that these elements should not be dissociated from the current application for FOA and indicated that it is prepared to work with Bell Media until 25 March 2016 to resolve the standalone and multiplatform rates, as well as the applicable term, after which time the Commission should resolve all of these disputed elements by way of FOA.

As parties are well aware, the Commission has indicated that it expects parties to negotiate in good faith on a commercial basis and arrive at a mutually acceptable solution, before calling upon the Commission’s dispute resolution processes. In Information Bulletin 2013-637, the Commission stated it generally expects that parties will have made reasonable efforts to resolve their dispute prior to requesting FOA or an expedited hearing and as a result, may require parties to engage in mediation before it accepts the matter for dispute resolution.

With respect to the disputed matters, it is within the purview of the Commission to determine the scope for a FOA proceeding.  Nevertheless, consistent with Information Bulletin 2013-637, parties should make every attempt to agree on the scope of their dispute before requesting the Commission’s assistance, and if possible, to narrow the scope of disputed matters to be brought to FOA.

In light of the above and the parties’ willingness to engage in further bilateral negotiations, the request for FOA is suspended, including the timeframe in which the Commission may determine whether it is prepared to accept the request for FOA. In an effort to ensure this matter is resolved as soon as possible, parties are to report back to the Commission on or before 25 March 2016.


Masood Qureshi
Senior Manager, Alternative Dispute Resolution

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