Bell on mobile access to its content

Rogers said today that Bell is going to stick it to everyone when it comes to mobile television, a charge that has Bell executives spitting mad. Here’s what Bell had to say at the CRTC about allowing its content to be used by other companies to launch mobile services.

MR. COPE: Yes. I think if we back up all the way to the first principle, but I want to talk about the Bell Mobile TV, as again, we’re in the business of selling our content to every BDU on all the screens. That is absolutely core to what we’re trying to do and it’s our belief that across four screens Canadians are going to end up with world-leading and are now world-leading services from all of our competitors too at the BDU level.

But yes, Mobile TV — there’s no doubt Bell Wireless has been a leader in the world in this. We came up with the concept. We launched it in Canada. But our vision has been really simple. For the consumer it’s an incredible service because it’s $5 a month for 10 hours of viewing and it’s outside of any of your data bucket.

So it’s totally affordable and 500,000 Canadians are now subscribing to the service. We could not be more excited than to sell our service to TELUS and Rogers and the other wireless carriers to put it on their handsets.

Just to give you a perspective, Bell Mobility today pays $8 million — and that number is growing — on an annualized basis to Bell Media. We have offered these services, all of our content, to our other wireless companies for $3 million a year and if you do the model, after that it becomes a per subscriber fee. If you do a model on a $5 bill for a Canadian consumer and you take all the Canadian content that we expect to be on handsets, these dollars are so small.

We believe people aren’t carrying the wireless product to create a perception of vertical integration being a problem because at $3 million if Bell Media’s content is not worth that much in an exploding wireless business, then we actually don’t have a Mobile TV business.

And so we’re very relaxed about the economics. We’re excited to sell it. We want to buy — we have, and if you look at Bell Mobile’s product you will see we have lots of other content other than Bell Media’s content on it and we look forward obviously to carry everyone’s content on it as soon as we can arrange it.

And more importantly, Kevin’s job is to sell that content to our other wireless companies to get everyone in Canada to have available these types of services. That’s our fundamental belief.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, your position is clear. We’ll see through the intervention phase how others react to that.

MR. COPE: We will but I do think it’s absolutely critical to understand that TELUS and Rogers are upset about $3 million a year for access to this and that it’s created headlines in the media about us having exclusive wireless. We don’t. We have actually created a world-leading technology that Canada can be proud of, not worry about $3 million bills for these companies. Thank you.