The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has ordered Quebecor to comply with its regulations.
The CRTC called TVA Group to a public hearing Wednesday to explain its decision to cut the TVA Sports signal to Bell subscribers at the start of the NHL playoffs last week.
The broadcast regulator found that TVA Group violated the CRTC’s discretionary services regulations by withholding the signal.
If TVA Group fails to comply with the order, it could face fines of up to $250,000 for the first violation and $500,000 for each subsequent violation.
Should it again withhold or interfere with the TVA Sports signal before the dispute with Bell is resolved, TVA Sports will have its licence automatically suspended for the duration of time that the signal is not provided to Bell Canada.
The CRTC created a rule to protect Canadians from losing access to television services during commercial negotiations between broadcasters and television service providers.
“The CRTC is very concerned by TVA Group’s actions,” said Ian Scott, chair of the CRTC, in a statement.
“Not only are their actions a serious violation of our regulations, but hundreds of thousands of Canadians were deprived of a channel to which they are subscribed.”
“Holding a licence is a privilege, not a right,” Scott said.
TVA Group has argued Bell is not paying a fair price for its service. At the hearing Wednesday, Quebecor owner Pierre Karl Péladeau pleaded for equitable rates, saying the fate of TVA Sports is at stake.