Source: Toronto Sun
In view of Quebecor Media’s tradition of innovation and our commitment to showcasing the wealth of Quebec talent, particularly in the fields of television and cinema, we were quite taken aback by this week’s announcement that Astral is filing a complaint with the CRTC in a bid to shut down our new illico Club Unlimited service on TV screens.
We created illico Club Unlimited to meet our viewers’ clearly expressed expectations for a flat-fee plan offering a rich and varied selection of unlimited, on-demand content such as movies, television series, children’s shows, documentaries, comedy performances and concerts.
Not only is illico Club Unlimited a response tailored to the needs of its market and of Quebecers, but it aims to compete directly with a foreign, global player, Netflix, which has already signed up approximately 10% of Videotron’s customers while making no contribution to the Canadian broadcasting system.
Illico Club Unlimited differentiates itself from Netflix by offering mainly French-language content, thereby providing a new distribution channel for Quebec productions and another showcase for local talent.
Astral’s attempt to deprive consumers of a new, homegrown service is all the more incomprehensible at a time when American services like Netflix and organizations like Apple TV are knocking at our media doors and attracting growing interest from viewers.
So we have to ask why Astral would file such a complaint. In our view, there is only one possible answer to this question: Astral is determined to unduly extend its 30-year pay-TV monopoly.
Astral’s position is particularly surprising and unacceptable in view of the fact that its would-be buyer, Bell Canada, announced at recent CRTC hearings that it intended to launch a similar service.
The changes ushered in by the digital revolution have put consumers in the driver’s seat when it comes to consuming content.
Unlike certain other companies, we realized this a long time ago.
This is why Videotron and Quebecor Media’s other subsidiaries always strive to anticipate their customers’ needs.
Illico Club Unlimited is a perfect example. It is designed to meet Quebecers’ expectations for a flat-fee video plan that offers a rich and varied selection of unlimited, on-demand content.
Meanwhile, Astral wants to maintain its inherited privileges as a pay-TV monopoly, one which has always yielded minimal benefits for the people who make television shows in Quebec, especially in comparison with the historic benefits Astral has been granted.
As new market realities take shape, Astral can hide its head in the sand and oppose competition, resist innovation and try to block the creation of a new platform for delivering local content and showcasing local talent.
But we see the new environment as an opportunity to innovate for the benefit of consumers.
We have always been and will continue to be for innovation, and we will always oppose monopolies such as Bell and Astral that want only to maintain their privileges and deprive consumers of the choices they are entitled to expect.
They have their battle to fight, we have ours.
© Toronto Sun