CBC, Quebecor call ceasefire in nasty spat
steve ladurantaye Monday, Mar. 05, 2012 6:33PM EST
There appears to be a truce in a long-running dispute between two of the country’s largest broadcasters, with Quebecor Media Inc. and the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. announcing a restoration of “trade relations.”
Quebecor Media, a subsidiary of Quebecor Inc. (QBR.B-T36.30—-%), has been critical of the government-financed CBC, and one of its major issues has been that the public broadcaster does not buy advertising in its French-language newspapers.
In September, Quebecor chief executive officer Pierre Karl Péladeau threatened to sue the broadcaster’s French-language network, Radio-Canada. He sent a letter to the public broadcaster’s president, Hubert Lacroix, in which he accused Radio-Canada of withholding ads from Quebec newspapers after Quebecor locked out employees at two papers.
“If you continue harming Canadians by pursuing these illegal measures, we are advising you that we will ask the courts to stop these petty and illegal practices,” Mr. Péladeau wrote.
Mr. Lacroix responded by saying Quebecor’s readers were not part of the target audience sought by the public broadcaster. Quebecor’s papers include Le Journal de Montreal and Le Journal de Québec.
CBC seems to have changed its mind. Quebecor issued a brief release in French on Monday, saying the new-found agreement would last for “years to come.”
“As leaders in their respective markets, we have always believed that our newspapers allowed the CBC to reach the wide audience that the mandate directed [it] to achieve,” Mr. Péladeau said in the statement. “We are pleased that through this agreement, the CBC recognizes the value of our newspapers in achieving its goals as a public broadcaster.”
CBC could not be immediately reached for comment. In return for the ad purchases, the press release said Quebecor’s cable subsidiary, Vidéotron Ltée, would continue to offer the broadcaster’s specialty channels to its viewers.
The CBC operates three specialty channel services: English-language CBC News Network, French-language news channel RDI, and arts channel Bold.
While the agreement would appear to settle one battle, there are still issues between the companies. Quebecor is a vocal critic of the CBC’s $1.1-billion in funding, and has waged a public battle to force the broadcaster to reveal more about how it spends its money.
In recent years, Quebecor researchers have submitted hundreds of access-to-information requests to the CBC, leading to a court battle in which the Crown corporation is fighting to keep records involving its creative, journalistic and programming activities completely exempt from public view.
Meanwhile, Mr. Lacroix has accused Quebecor Media of using its Sun newspapers to smear the public broadcaster.
“For more than three years, Quebecor has been using its newspapers, and more recently, its Sun News Network TV licence to pursue a campaign against CBC/Radio-Canada,” the CBC said in a statement late last year.
Quebecor Inc. (QBR.B) Close: $36.42, up 7¢