OTTAWA - In a battle of GOs, Telus is charging Corus Entertainment and Shaw Communications of conspiring to block its efforts to stream Movie Central/HBO content to its Optik On The Go customers, which competes directly now with Shaw`s GO TV Everywhere service.
Telus filed a complaint with the CRTC last week saying Telus has tried unsuccessfully for nearly a year to acquire the premium content for its Optik on the go service from Corus, to no avail.
“Corus is offering in-home, out-of-home and on-the-go access to Movie Central and HBO content to Shaw’s BDU subscribers, while denying Telus Optik TV customers the same access to the content,” reads Telus' September 20th filing to the Commission. It goes on to demand that the Regulator order Corus to immediately provide Telus with access to the same content being offered to Shaw.
“Movie Central and HBO content is highly sought after and Telus is suffering a material adverse impact by not being able to offer this content to our Optik TV subscribers while our main competitor Shaw is able to do so,” adds the Telus complaint signed by director, broadcast regulation, Ann Mainville-Neeson.
“It is clear that the initial denial of out-of-home rights for Movie Central and HBO content and subsequent delay of rights to Telus was a joint effort between Shaw and Corus. It would take months of planning for Shaw to launch an application of this nature [Shaw Go] and Corus can in no way claim to be surprised by this development by its affiliated BDU,” charges Mainville-Neeson. The Shaw family owns a controlling interest in both Shaw Communications and Corus.
She adds that it is crucial that Telus be able to access the same Movie Central and HBO to be competitive and that a “one-month head start by Shaw is anti-competitive and in direct violation of the new provision of the Pay Television Regulations.”
Telus maintains that by making the Movie Central/HBO content available only to Shaw Cable and Shaw Direct customers, Corus is in violation of section 6.3 of the Pay Television Regulations. The regulation states that “Except as otherwise provided under a condition of its licence, a licensee that is ready to launch a new programming service shall make that programming service available for distribution by all licensed broadcasting distribution undertakings or operators of exempt distribution undertakings, despite the absence of a commercial agreement.”
The CRTC has replied that Corus now has until October 1 to respond to Telus’ charges. Corus’ Sylvie Courtemanche, Vice-President, Government Relations, told Cartt.ca that they will “be responding in due course.”
Mainville-Neeson writes that Telus did strike an agreement last November with Corus to supply the content prior to its planned launch of Optik on the go in December 2011. Instead just days before the launch, she claims Corus reneged on the deal telling Telus it was undertaking a “strategic review of all non-linear activities.”
This past August, after further negotiations, Corus agreed to provide Telus the ability to deliver the Movie Central/HBO content for viewing only over broadband and WiFi in the home.
“Corus continued to deny Telus the ability to make the Movie Central/HBO programming available over the cellular network. No rationale was provided for this denial other than an irrelevant comment that in any event most consumption of premium TV is done within the home. It is obvious that the real motivation had to do with the fact that Corus’ affiliate Shaw does not operate a cellular network” writes Mainville-Neeson.
She explains that with the Shaw GO service launch on September 20, Corus did agree to make the same Movie Central/HBO content available to Telus for distribution on Optik TV via broadband and Wi-Fi, “but not until October 20, 2012, and not on its cellular networks.”