Sun TV no longer on Bell Satellite TV
MONTREAL - Sun News Network, dubbed "Fox News North," is no longer being carried on Bell Satellite TV across Canada due to a fee dispute, according to both Bell and Sun News owner Quebecor Inc..
But just who is responsible for the development is hotly disputed by both sides.
The all-news and talk channel was launched by Quebecor (TSX:QBR.B) last month but disappeared from Bell's Satellite TV lineup on Tuesday.
"We at Sun News are receiving thousands of emails asking why the signal is not there anymore," said Luc Lavoie, head of development for Sun News Network.
"We redirect them immediately to Bell customer service," Lavoie added.
Bell (TSX:BCE) said that Sun News Network is no longer being carried on its satellite TV service because there is no fee agreement with Quebecor.
"Sun News has withdrawn its signal from Bell Satellite TV as we do not have an agreement with Quebecor to carry it," Bell spokesman Jason Laszlo said in a statement.
Lavoie said the issue may be taken to the CRTC on the basis of Bell (TSX:BCE) giving itself an unfair advantage, noting the telecom giant already owns three all-news channels — CTV news channel, Business News Network and CP24.
"What we're asking for is exactly the same agreement that we've got with Shaw, the same agreement that we've got with Videotron. With Rogers we don't have an agreement yet but we're negotiating on the same basis," he said.
However, Laszlo took a different view of the talks.
"We had hoped to come to a commercial agreement based on the fact that Sun News is a new and relatively untested channel on the market," he said.
"But the price being asked is quite excessive – it’s in line with what would usually be quoted for a well-established and popular channel."
"We’ve indicated our willingness to negotiate, made a realistic counter-proposal and asked them to respond. We haven’t heard back – other than through the media," he said.
Meanwhile, Sun News remains available on Fibe TV in Toronto where it is operating as an over-the-air local station that must be carried locally.
But Fibe TV, Bell's Internet protocol TV service, was only rolled out last fall in neighbourhoods in Toronto and Montreal and would potentially have a smaller pool of viewers for Sun TV than would Bell Satellite.
The Quebecor venture launched April 18 after months of buzz about what was being dubbed "Fox News North."
There were reports the new channel had an estimated 37,000 viewers across Canada tune in for its initial half-hour, when it hit the airwaves with what it called "hard news and straight talk.''
Since then there have been suggestions that audiences have declined sharply.
But Lavoie dispute that, saying "our ratings are going up day-by-day," adding that coverage of the federal election between 8 p.m. and midnight drew around 100,000 viewers.
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