UDA surprised by Videotron move

Actors union says it had no talks with cable giant before it launched online TV portal

The spokesman for Quebec’s largest actors’ union was surprised to learn about the launch of Videotron’s new online TV portal Illico Web Wednesday and plans to contact the cable giant to make sure performers get a slice of the revenue pie when their work is broadcast online.

Trailing behind Radio-Canada, Bell TV and Rogers Communications, which launched their online TV sites months ago, Videotron announced Wednesday that Videotron digital television subscribers with a Videotron Internet connection can now watch 32 mostly Francophone channels on the web.

While Videotron said content creators will be compensated under current collective agreements, Union des artistes (UDA) spokesman Raymond Legault told Playback Daily the issue isn’t that straightforward. ‘No one from Videotron communicated with us. We are trying to analyze now what it means for our members.’

While UDA does have an agreement with Videotron for content delivered through Illico, there have been no discussions about web television.

When Radio-Canada launched its online extension Tout.TV earlier this year, it didn’t consult with UDA either. Ultimately the two sides agreed that performers would receive 6% of their original fee for a period of 18 months for shows broadcast online, explained Legault.

Targeted at customers under forty who don’t have the time or inclination to watch television in the traditional fashion, Videotron subscribers can log into the Illico website to watch TVA, Radio-Canada, LCN, RDI, Meteomedia, Super Ecran and MusiquePlus. A limited number of English-language channels, including Astral Media Inc.’s The Movie Network, Mpix and HBO Canada YTV and Treehouse Television will be available on Illico Web.

By providing subscribers with more content online, Illico Web will prevent video piracy and promote Quebec culture the president and chief executive officer of Videotron parent company Quebecor Pierre Karl Péladeau said Wednesday at a glitzy press conference in downtown Montreal. ‘This project is part of our mission to protect the ecosystem of Quebec programming.’

Videotron ultimately wants Illico Web to mirror its TV offerings, Videotron’s president and chief executive officer Robert Dépatie said. Depatie said it’s proving to be ‘complicated,’ to sign up English-language channels but wouldn’t elaborate.

Péladeau, who is gearing up to launch a multibillion dollar cellphone network in Quebec in the next few months wouldn’t specify what type of content will be available to Videotron cellphone subscribers.