Gloves come off as Canadian TV rivals battle over fees for carrying NHL games

This year's National Hockey League playoffs features an unusually fierce battle between two long-time business rivals, Quebecor's TVA Sports and BCE's Bell TV.

TVA Sports blocked its French-language NHL feed to Bell at 7 p.m. Wednesday as the playoffs got under way, to reinforce Quebecor's demand for better fees from Bell.

That defied a warning by the federal broadcasting and telecommunications regulator, which had directed Quebecor earlier Wednesday to continue providing the signal to Bell TV subscribers despite the fee dispute.

The CRTC also warned that it was ready to use its powers to enforce its regulations.

A Quebecor statement issued later Wednesday, as the first Round 1 playoff games were in full swing, said it cut off the TVA Sports feed to Bell because the parties hadn't negotiated a resolution to their dispute over fees.

Quebecor acquired the rights to French-language NHL games in an multi-year agreement with Rogers, after the Toronto-based telecom company acquired the Canadian national rights for NHL coverage through to the 2025-26 season.