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ARCHIVED -  Public Notice CRTC 2001-103

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Public Notice CRTC 2001-103

See also: 2001-103-1

Ottawa, 28 September 2001

Call for comments - Carriage of local television stations by DTH undertakings in smaller markets

In this notice, the Commission calls for comments on issues related to the distribution by DTH undertakings of certain local and out-of-market television services in smaller television markets.

Context

1.

In Decision CRTC 2001-609 issued today, the Commission addressed matters raised in a complaint filed by Cogeco Radio-Télévision inc. (Cogeco) against Star Choice Communications Inc. (Star Choice). In its complaint, Cogeco alleged that Star Choice, by distributing local TVA signals from Chicoutimi/Jonquière and Sherbrooke (local TVA signals) and not local TQS and CBC French-language service signals from those markets (local Cogeco signals), has breached section 9 of the Broadcasting Distribution Regulations (the regulations) by conferring an undue preference on TVA and by subjecting Cogeco to an undue disadvantage.

2.

In its decision, the Commission was not able to find that Star Choice had conferred an undue preference on TVA and/or that Cogeco had been subjected to an undue disadvantage. The Commission considers, however, that the circumstances involving local television stations and DTH distribution decisions raised in the Cogeco/Star Choice matter, as well as in similar situations described in a number of other complaints before the Commission alleging undue preference or disadvantage, warrant further investigation.

3.

In Public Notice CRTC 1995-217, which accompanied a number of licensing decisions for DTH satellite distribution undertakings, the Commission put in place a flexible regulatory framework for DTH distribution undertakings which, among other things, permitted DTH undertakings, at their option, to distribute Canadian television stations outside their traditional over the air broadcasting markets. Subsequently, the Commission incorporated the regulatory framework for DTH licensees into Part 4 of the regulations which came into force in 1998. The distribution rules for DTH licensees are set out in sections 37 to 41 of the regulations.

4.

Recent developments in DTH distribution have raised some concerns about the impact of the distribution of optional local television signals by DTH on smaller market television stations across Canada. Accordingly, the Commission seeks comments on the following questions.

Questions

5.

Without limiting the scope of the submissions, the Commission invites comment on the following questions that seek to explore the factual context, the policy implications, and possible courses of action related to the distribution of local television signals and out-of-market television services by DTH licensees.

Factual context

6.

Identify (supported with examples and detailed rationale) the current and future impact of: i) the distribution by DTH undertakings of some local signals in smaller television markets and not the signals of the other local television stations in the same market and ii) the distribution by DTH undertakings of out-of-market television services in markets with smaller television stations. In particular, address the impact on the following:

· Audiences to local stations and local programs
· Revenues of the local stations (including national and local advertising revenue and network payments - Note: In providing comments on revenues, please include information on advertiser ad placement practices.)
· Protection of programming rights

7.

In terms of program content, what currently distinguishes a local signal from a network signal? Quantify the difference. Include program schedules where appropriate.

8.

Identify the possible implications for DTH undertakings of their distribution of local signals with respect to:

· Cost: For example, what is the cost of carrying a single television signal? How many subscribers would generally be required to recover this cost? Over what period?
· Capacity: Specifically, what would be the effect on DTH distribution capacity and cost were there a "carry one, carry all" requirement (see below for definition)? What would be the implications on DTH distribution capacity of a move from today's analogue NTSC broadcast system to the new digital A/53?

Policy implications

9.

As stated in the Broadcasting Act "The Commission establishes classes of licences and issues licences subject to conditions related to the circumstances of the licensee."

· Does the extension of a local broadcaster's signals by a DTH undertaking have an impact on the nature and circumstances of the licence granted to the local television programming undertaking?

10.

The Canadian broadcasting system should be regulated and supervised in a flexible manner that is readily adaptable to the different characteristics of English and French language broadcasting and to the different conditions under which broadcasting undertakings that provide English or French language programming operate.

· In addressing the issue of extended DTH distribution of local broadcaster signals, which characteristics and conditions, if any, should be taken into consideration to ensure that the regulatory framework has the necessary flexibility to meet the specific requirements of the English and French markets?
· How is the public interest, the interest of DTH subscribers, and the competitiveness of DTH licensees, served by DTH undertakings distributing multiple services where the programming is largely the same?

Possible courses of action

11.

Provide your comments (addressing the possible impact of each alternative on subscribers, distributors and programming services) of the following possible alternatives some of which have been proposed by a number of parties:

a) No change to the current CRTC policy and regulations: DTH licensees are not limited in the local signals they may distribute.
b) A requirement to "carry one, carry all": If a DTH licensee decides to distribute one local signal from a particular market, it would be required to distribute all other local signals from that same market.
c) While DTH licensees would be permitted to distribute as many television stations as they wish, local stations could only be offered to subscribers in the market that the local station is licensed to serve.
d) Commission approval would be required as it is for Canadian distant signals, that is, DTH licensees would be required to obtain prior approval from the Commission before adding any new conventional Canadian television signals.
e) Any other alternative, including combinations of the above.

Call for comments

12.

The Commission invites comments that address the issues and questions set out in this notice. The Commission will accept comments that it receives on or before 30 November 2001.

13.

The Commission will not formally acknowledge comments. It will, however, fully consider all comments and they will form part of the public record of the proceeding, provided that the procedures for filing set out below have been followed.

Procedures for filing comments

14.

Interested parties can file their comments on paper or electronically. Submissions longer than five pages should include a summary.

15.

Parties wishing to file their comments on paper should send them to the Secretary General, CRTC, Ottawa, K1A 0N2.

16.

Parties wishing to file electronic versions of their comments can do so by email or on diskette. The Commission email address is procedure@crtc.gc.ca

17.

Electronic submissions should be in the HTML format. As an alternative, those making submissions may use "Microsoft Word" for text and "Microsoft Excel" for spreadsheets.

18.

Please number each paragraph of your submission. In addition, please enter the line ***End of document*** following the last paragraph. This will help the Commission verify that the document has not been damaged during transmission.

19.

The Commission will make comments filed in electronic form available on its web site at www.crtc.gc.ca in the official language and format in which they are submitted. This will make it easier for members of the public to consult the documents.

20.

The Commission also encourages interested parties to monitor the public examination file (and/or the Commission's web site) for additional information that they may find useful when preparing their comments.

Examination of public comments and related documents at the following Commission offices during normal business hours

Central Building
Les Terrasses de la Chaudière
1 Promenade du Portage, Room G-5
Hull, Quebec K1A 0N2
Tel: (819) 997-2429 - TDD: 994-0423
Fax: (819) 994-0218

Bank of Commerce Building
1809 Barrington Street
Suite 1007
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3J 3K8
Tel: (902) 426-7997 - TDD: 426-6997
Fax: (902) 426-2721

405 de Maisonneuve Blvd. East
2nd Floor, Suite B2300
Montréal, Quebec H2L 4J5
Tel: (514) 283-6607 - TDD: 283-8316
Fax: (514) 283-3689

55 St. Clair Avenue East
Suite 624
Toronto, Ontario M4T 1M2
Tel: (416) 952-9096
Fax: (416) 954-6343

Kensington Building
275 Portage Avenue
Suite 1810
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 2B3
Tel: (204) 983-6306 - TDD: 983-8274
Fax: (204) 983-6317

Cornwall Professional Building
2125 - 11th Avenue
Room 103
Regina, Saskatchewan S4P 3X3
Tel: (306) 780-3422
Fax: (306) 780-3319

10405 Jasper Avenue
Suite 520
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 3N4
Tel: (780) 495-3224
Fax: (780) 495-3214

530-580 Hornby Street
Vancouver, British Columbia V6C 3B6
Tel: (604) 666-2111 - TDD: 666-0778
Fax: (604) 666-8322

Secretary General

This document is available in alternate format upon request and may also be examined at the following Internet site: http://www.crtc.gc.ca

Date Modified: 2001-09-28