TV content rules tightened for internet- and mobile-based providers

22 Sep 2011

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has issued a decision under which domestic companies that own both television content and the means to distribute it via mobile networks and the internet will face tighter rules regarding rivals’ programming rights. Reuters reports that the decision limits the means by which so-called ‘vertically integrated’ companies – including cablecos and telcos which have bought up broadcasting providers – could use their control of content to gain an advantage over rivals, as the CRTC has blocked the owner of any television programme from offering it on an exclusive basis only to their own mobile or internet subscribers. Broadcasters remain free to offer exclusive content on television, but if they offer that content online or on mobile platforms it must be made available to competitors on fair and reasonable terms. The ruling affects firms such as telco Bell Canada and cableco Shaw Communications, which include extensive broadcasting assets in their group portfolios. The CRTC opened a review into vertical integration in October 2010 on the same day it approved Shaw’s acquisition of the TV assets of Canwest. Meanwhile, the watchdog approved Bell’s parent BCE’s purchase of Canada’s largest private broadcaster CTV, although banned Bell from offering exclusive content via the internet or mobile devices.