A decision by the Canadian Radio-television and
Telecommunications Commission that prevents Vidéotron from circumventing its regulations by selling its inside wiring to a sister company – a move that prevented competition and customer choice – is a victory for consumers in Quebec, Michael Beard, Bell ExpressVu Vice President and General Manager of the Multiple Dwelling Unit Division said today.
In its decision, the CRTC ruled that the sister company Vidéotron sold its inside wiring to, Câblage QMI (CQMI), is governed by CRTC regulations and must conform to CRTC rulings on the price to be charged per subscriber per month for access to its inside wiring.
“We are very pleased with the CRTC’s decision,” Mr. Beard said. “It is a clear win for consumer choice and it restores competition in the MDU marketplace.” He noted that one-third of Canadians live in Multiple Dwelling Units.
“We hope that Vidéotron will now play by the rules so that consumers will have end-user choice and the market will evolve in an orderly way,” Mr. Beard said.
Vidéotron, owned by Quebecor, had sold its inside wiring to Câblage QMI, last February. Câblage QMI subsequently demanded that competitors pay $5 a month per subscriber and a one-time $35 administration fee for access to its wiring. Bell ExpressVu argued before the CRTC that if these charges were allowed consumers in Vidéotron-Câblage QMI wired buildings would not have any competitive suppliers to choose from. In its decision today, the CRTC also ruled that Vidéotron-CQMI could not charge administration fees.
Inside wiring is used to connect satellite or cable TV feeds to individual apartments within multiple dwelling units.
“By charging $5 per unit per month – almost 10 times the $0.52 per subscriber per month rate established as fair by the CRTC for access to this wiring – Vidéotron-Câblage QMI made it uneconomic for Bell ExpressVu and other
TV providers to enter Vidéotron-Câblage QMI wired buildings,” Mr. Beard said.
“The CRTC’s regulatory framework was put in place to ensure that ownership and control of inside wiring could not be used to effectively shut out competition in apartment buildings and condominiums,” Mr. Beard said.
With more than one million customers, Bell ExpressVu is Canada’s leader in digital home entertainment and broadcasts over 275 video digital channels. Bell ExpressVu was launched in September 1997 and since then has become the largest and fastest-growing direct-to-home broadcast company in Canada. Bell ExpressVu is a limited partnership, wholly owned by BCE Inc.