real service | CRTC rejects Bell’s complaint

Yes, Videotron prefers Hélix subscribers access to the new Vrai service, and at the same time detrimental to those who opt for the Internet. But Radio, Television and Communications Canada (CRTC) said the concessions were “not undeserved,” which on Monday dismissed a complaint from rival Bell.

Posted at 11:00 a.m.

Karim Ben Issa

Karim Ben Issa

Vrai was launched on August 21, 2021 by Videotron, which is owned by Quebecor, and was quick to draw the ire of Bell, who filed a complaint with the CRTC three days later. At the time, Vrai, which combined lifestyle content and reality shows, was a niche channel offered only to subscribers of Videotron’s Hélix TV. It costs them $7 per month.

Bell complained, at the time, that this exclusivity “prevents Canadian consumers not subscribing to Videotron from a new VOD service.” [vidéo sur demande] in French” and causes him “unnecessary competitive disadvantages”.

A few weeks later, on September 15, this complaint lapsed: Videotron offered Vrai to all Internet users, regardless of their service provider.

“Mixed” service

However, this internet subscription price was higher than the price reserved for Hélix subscribers, $15 instead of $7. While you’re on Helix, you can access content with five devices simultaneously, and your internet subscription only allowed one. Finally, if Vrai becomes a simple channel that you can tune directly to your TV using Helix, you have to deal with the website and app. QUB Online. The content can then be streamed back to a TV via AirPlay or using Chromecast.

This difference in treatment between Helix subscribers and online users is the main reason for a new complaint that Bell filed on November 17, 2021 with the CRTC. Quebecor, on behalf of Videotron, defended itself by emphasizing that “the way Vrai is delivered increases flexibility and choice for consumers, who are free to choose the platform that best meets their needs.” The contents are exactly the same, whether you are using Helix or on the Internet, they are selected.

The Vrai service was built on the basis of new regulations put in place by the CRTC in 2015. At the time, we wanted to allow Canadian broadcasters to compete with US video-on-demand platforms such as Netflix using a new format, Hybrid Video on Demand Services (VSDH). Essentially, these new channels benefit from the exemption and are no longer bound by their usual content obligations. It may be offered exclusively through a cable TV service like Videotron, but in return it has to be accessible to everyone online.

reasonable price ”

Vrai believes that in its decision on Monday, the CRTC does not violate the rules set in 2015 for this type of channel, even if “Videotron is likely to seek to promote its Helix interconnected technology to its subscribers”.

“The commission considers that the advantage and the disadvantage are not unjustified,” one decides.

The organization accepts Quebecor’s explanations, which assert that “differences between the offerings of the two systems are explained by certain technical limitations, as well as by issues related to the negotiation of content rights.” The higher cost of $8 for internet viewing is “not unreasonable” and compared to other Canadian online streaming services. “The consumer has the ability to scan different offerings and choose,” notes the CRTC.

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  • 503.400
    Number of subscribers to two video-on-demand services subscribing to Videotron, Club Illico and Vrai, as of December 31, 2021

    Source: quebecor

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