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Videotron's streaming service challenged

Fri, 03/01/2013 - 1:50pm
Brian Santo

Astral Media is attempting to force Videotron to drop or severely modify a streaming video service the latter recently announced.

Astral filed a complaint with Canadian regulatory agencies claiming Videotron’s new illico Club Unlimited service violates a number of statutes. Videotron considers the complaint to be without legal merit.

The MSO set up the mostly French-language service as a direct competitor to Netflix.

"Contrary to Astral's unsubstantiated allegations that we are in breach of the regulatory framework, the catalogue we are offering illico Club Unlimited subscribers does not violate any condition of our video on demand licence", said Robert Depatie, president and CEO of Videotron.

He continued, "We fully intend to demonstrate that before the CRTC and to lay bare Astral's true purpose in filing the complaint, namely to block any competition in order to protect and indeed expand its historical monopoly over pay television, which has stood for more than 30 years."

Videotron’s response to Astral was as much a response to Netflix as it was to Astral. The company explained that 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 percent of Videotron's customers while making no contribution to the Canadian broadcasting system.

"In recent years, the world - and particularly the broadcasting industry - has seen dramatic changes that are driving the emergence of a new paradigm", said Depatie. "While Astral has decided to deny the new realities, we regard them as a new opportunity to innovate for the benefit of consumers."

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