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  • Bell takes legal action against VMedia over live TV streaming app | NEXBOX TV Box
    NEXBOX for OTT TV Box, Streaming Media Player, and Mini PC.

    Bell takes legal action against VMedia over live TV streaming app

    Small Toronto-based Internet provider VMedia has landed in a legal battle with broadcast giant Bell Media Inc. over its new service that lets consumers stream live television over the Internet using a Netflix-like app.

    BCE Inc. owned Bell contends that the over-the-top service VMedia launched in mid-September – a slimmed down skinny TV package accessible on an app on streaming device Roku – is illegally distributing its channels CTV and CTV Two.

    In a cease-and-desist letter sent Sept. 29, Bell argues the service doesn’t meet conditions of VMedia’s licence under the Broadcasting Act since it doesn’t require a VMedia set-top box and works on any Internet connection. It also argued that VMedia’s offering doesn’t meet all requirements under the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission’s mandated $25 basic cable packages.

    “VMedia is distributing CTV and CTV Two signals outside of its licenced broadcast business and without Bell Media’s consent. It’s a clear copyright violation and we asked them to stop. They refused, so we’re asking for a court injunction to end the copyright infringement,” Bell spokeswoman Michelle Michalak said in an emailed statement.

    Bell filed the injunction at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice Monday, but VMedia refuses to stop airing Bell’s channels since the signals are available for free over-the-air.

    VMedia insists it’s operating within the Copyright Act and, on Monday, filed a separate application asking the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to declare it is lawfully allowed to retransmit over-the-air signals. The disagreement appears to hinge on whether VMedia is judged to be a retransmitter or a new media retransmitter.

    “All we’re trying to do is to provide an alternative competitive source of TV for consumers,” VMedia’s George Burger said. “Arguably Bell should be happy, this is getting seen by cord cutters that otherwise aren’t seeing CTV ads.”

    Thousands of people have signed up for a free trial since the service launched, three quarters of whom don’t subscribe to traditional TV services, Burger said.

    “This is where all video content consumption is going, there’s no logical reason for someone like Bell to stand in the way,” he said, noting that dominant sports network ESPN allows similar service Sling TV to stream its signals in the U.S.

    After the trial, consumers get 15 channels for $17.95 per month. VMedia is seeking permission to distribute the other seven channels in its typical basic package that aren’t available over-the-air.

    Burger believes the legal battle comes down to competition and called Bell’s actions “heavy handed.”

    “We don’t have the resources to fight them dollar for dollar… I’m worried they might just outspend us and make us unable to defend ourselves to the end,” Burger said.

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