Consumer Groups Say Tied Selling of Streaming Services is Discriminative

by Istvan Fekete on February 10, 2015

Canadians have been able to sign up for streaming media services shomi and CraveTV since last year when Rogers, Bell, and associated carriers made these services available. There is a catch, though: You cannot subscribe to any of these services if you don’t already have a TV subscription with one of these carriers.

You could call it a business model, and you would be correct. And believe it or not, Rogers, Bell, Telus, and associated carriers have the right to limit their offering to their own customers. However, what works just fine from the companies’ perspective doesn’t necessarily look as good from the consumers’.

So what’s next? You’ve guessed it: The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) and the Consumers’ Association of Canada (CAC, together PIAC-CAC) have filed two applications with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (the CRTC) challenging the tied selling of the two aforementioned streaming services.

In one application, PIAC and CAC asked whether the Rogers and Shaw partnership – which resulted in the Shomi joint venture – has a legal base for tying access to the streaming service to consumption of a Rogers or Shaw Internet access or TV subscription.

“The tied selling of streaming services, designed to favour legacy business models and to discriminate against customers who wish to only view programming through an internet service provider of their choice, is something PIAC-CAC believe cannot be supported in the current rules, nor by Canada’s broadcasting policy objectives”, said Geoffrey White, counsel to PIAC-CAC.

The second application did the same for Bell’s CraveTV streaming service.

“We are hoping to preserve an open internet, and have the CRTC tell large telecom and broadcasting conglomerates that they should not be allowed to abuse regulatory distinctions at the expense of Canadians”, said John Lawford, Executive Director and General Counsel for PIAC.

What do you think? Are PIAC and CAC right this time?

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Written by: Istvan Fekete. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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