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BCE says CRTC oversteps with sports ruling by Jamie Sturgeon

Dec 13, 2011

Source: National Post

BCE Inc. said it will challenge a ruling by the federal telecom and broadcast regulator that the telecom giant must quash commercial agreements cut with the National Hockey League and National Football League to stream games exclusively to its mobile subscribers.

The ruling Monday by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, made because of concerns the agreements with the two sports leagues could entrench uneasy precedents within the nascent mobile video market place, calls for the country's largest telecommunications and media company to begin opening up access to competitors within a month.

Based on a framework the regulator established in September, the ruling comes after Friday's announcement by BCE and Rogers Communications Inc. that they will pay $1.32 billion for a joint controlling stake in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, owner of the Maple Leafs and the NBA's Raptors among other sports holdings.

"Canadians shouldn't be forced to subscribe to a wireless service from a specific company to access their favourite content," said Konrad von Finckenstein, the CRTC's outgoing chairman.

BCE, which operates Bell Canada Inc., is refuting the grounds for the decision, however.

© National Post