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Videotron reaches royalty deal with RDS
12/2/2002

Montreal, - Quebec cable TV company Videotron is close to ending its dispute over royalty payments owed to sports channel RDS.

The companies said in a joint release Monday that an "agreement in principle" on royaly payments for Videotron's cable distribution of the French-language sports network has been reached and should be finalized early next year.

Additionally, the two companies said they will begin "good faith negotiations" towards a new distribution contract to replace the current agreement that expires Dec. 31.

Videotron, a subsidiary of Quebecor Media Inc. (TSX:QBR.B), had refused to pay past dues owed to RDS, arguing that the sports channel gave an unfair advantage to Bell ExpressVu, the BCE Inc.-owned (TSX:BCE) satellite-based TV competitor to Videotron.

RDS is majority owned by CTV Inc., a division of Bell Globemedia which also owns The Globe and Mail newspaper and Sympatico website.

The CRTC ruled in October that a hearing was needed before the regulator could issue a mandatory order to force Videotron to pay its dues, which totalled about $16 million. It did not set a date for the hearing.

In August, the commission ordered Videotron to pay its past dues to RDS. It also rejected Videotron allegations that RDS gave an unfair advantage to Bell ExpressVu.

Videotron has had several regulatory setbacks in its legal fight against growing competitor Bell ExpressVu, which has been luring thousands of cable TV customers to its satellite TV service.

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