ARCHIVED -  Decision CRTC 85-609

This page has been archived on the Web

Information identified as archived on the Web is for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. Archived Decisions, Notices and Orders (DNOs) remain in effect except to the extent they are amended or reversed by the Commission, a court, or the government. The text of archived information has not been altered or updated after the date of archiving. Changes to DNOs are published as “dashes” to the original DNO number. Web pages that are archived on the Web are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards. As per the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, you can request alternate formats by contacting us.


Ottawa, 31 July 1985
Decision CRTC 85-609
Société de radio-télévision du Québec
Montreal, Quebec - 841137300
Montreal, Quebec City, Hull, Chapeau, Abitibi-Témiscamingue (Val d'Or and Rouyn), Rimouski, Trois-Rivières, Eastern Townships (Sherbrooke), Baie-Trinité and Sept-Iles, Quebec - 841138100 - 841139900 - 841140700 - 841141500 - 841143100 - 841144900 - 841145600 - 841146400 - 841147200 - 841148000 - 841149800
At a Public Hearing in Montreal on 13 May 1985, the Commission considered applications by the Société de radio-télévision du Québec (Radio-Québec, the licensee) for renewal of its broadcasting licence for the French-language educational television network (Réseau Radio-Québec) consisting of stations CIVM-TV Montreal, CIVQ-TV Quebec City, CIVO-TV Hull, CIVP-TV Chapeau, CIVA-TV and CIVA-TV-1 Abitibi-Témiscamingue (Val d'Or and Rouyn), CIVB-TV Rimouski, CIVB-TV-1 Grand Fonds, CIVC-TV Trois-Rivières, CIVS-TV Eastern Townships (Sherbrooke), CIVF-TV Baie-Trinité, CIVG-TV Sept-Iles, CIVK-TV Carleton, CIVK-TV-1 Anse-aux-Gascons, CIVK-TV-2 Percé, CIVK-TV-3 Gaspé and CIVV-TV Saguenay-Lac St-Jean, and for renewal of the broadcasting licences for the 11 stations serving the communities noted above. The Commission notes that the licensee has not implemented its authority for CIVL-TV Mont-Laurier and did not submit an application for the licence renewal of that station.
Through its 12 transmitting and 5 rebroadcasting stations, Radio-Québec covers almost the entire province of Quebec, and is available, over-the-air, to more than 90% of the population. Since January 1985, the licensee has also made use of two channels of the Anik C-3 satellite to feed its transmitting stations from Montreal, which has made its signal available via satellite for cable distribution.
In Decision CRTC 78-438, following Radio-Québec's last appearance at a public hearing, the Commission renewed its licences until 31 March 1981, but expressed concern regarding two principal matters. The first of these was the compliance of Radio-Québec's programming with the "Direction to the CRTC (Ineligibility to hold broadcasting licences)" issued by the Governor in Council on 13 July 1972 (P.C. 1972-1569, Chapter 377 of the Broadcasting Act; this was revoked on 27 June 1985 and was replaced by Order in Council P.C. 1985-1002 without altering the situation with respect to the licensee). The second matter addressed in Decision CRTC 78-438 was the sponsorship of programs broadcast by Radio-Québec. Since 1981, the Commission has renewed the licences of Radio-Québec administratively, for short terms only.
In CRTC Notice of Public Hearing 1985-22 dated 22 March 1985, the Commission stated that it wished to discuss a number of issues with the licensee at the 13 May 1985 hearing: the licensee's interpretation of educational programming in light of the Direction to the CRTC; its policy and plans with regard to institutional advertising (prestige sponsorship) and public service announcements; and its plans concerning the use of independent productions and possible co-productions with Canadian and foreign broadcasters. In addition, the Commission stated that it wished to discuss the loss of francophone audiences to English-language media; the means to increase the number of French-language television services in communities outside Quebec, and; the steps that would be necessary to ensure a better balance between French-language and English-language television services in predominantly francophone communities.
As an independent corporation within the meaning of the Direction to the CRTC, the licensee is required to broadcast the types of programming defined in Paragraph 2 of the Direction as follows:
 a)  programming destined to be presented in such a context as to provide a continuity of learning opportunity aimed at the acquisition or improvement of knowledge or the enlargement of understanding of members of the audience to whom such programming is directed and under circumstances such that the acquisition or improvement of such knowledge or the enlargement of such understanding is subject to supervision or assessment by a provincial authority by any appropriate means, and
  b)  programming providing information on the available courses of instruction or involving the broadcasting of special education events within the educational systems,
  which programming, taken as a whole, shall be designed to furnish educational opportunities and shall be distinctly different from general broadcasting available on the national broadcasting service or on privately owned broadcasting undertakings.
At the hearing, the licensee submitted that its programming conformed with the Direction to the CRTC, as well as with chapters 2 and 3 of the Quebec Educational Programming Act, and the descriptions of educational programming adopted by such international authorities as UNESCO and the European Broadcasting Union; the latter was quoted by Radio-Québec as having taken the following position [TRANSLATION]:
 Steps must be taken to eliminate programs that are too didactic or modelled too closely on traditional education; to increase the number of light educational programs, or public service programs as they are sometimes called; to offer the public more practical and creative program fare to fill their leisure time and enhance their lifestyles; and to take an active part in the enormous task of coming to grips with the social trends imposed by rapid technological change.
Radio-Québec also emphasized that the description of educational programming contained in the Direction to the CRTC was prepared 15 years ago, and that television has changed considerably in the interim, not just in Canada but in Europe and the United States as well. According to the licensee [TRANSLATION], "the elements or definitions upon which the Direction to the CRTC was formulated, and which come essentially from UNESCO, have been altered; although we abide by the definition, we suggest that it be revised to take into account the changes that have occurred during the past few years."
The Commission conducted an analysis of Radio-Québec's programming, based on logs submitted by the licensee between 1980 and 1984. For the purposes of the analysis, Radio-Québec's programming was divided into four main categories:
a) programs on current events, including special programs such as coverage of the papal visit and provincial economic summits, coverage of the proceedings of the Quebec National Assembly, and of national band international public affairs;
b) formal educational programs with an instructional format;
c) programs of an informal or popular nature, which are educational in the broadest sense, Including coverage of socio-economic affairs, regional and ethnic expression, religious programs, documentaries, programs related to the arts, letters and sciences, conversational interviews, and magazine-type programs;
d) entertainment programs, including quiz shows, popular music and variety programs, classical music, opera, full-length features, serials and talk shows.
The analysis provides an overview of Radio-Québec's programming during the years examined. In that time, the total number of broadcasting hours increased by more than 20% yearly. Although the amount of programming devoted to current events and formal educational programs has remained stable, the percentage of entertainment programs has increased by 10%, with an equivalent reduction in the number of informal educational programs. The Commission notes, however, that formal and informal educational programs combined have consistently represented three-fifths, or 60%, of Radio-Québec's programming during the four-year period. Although the breakdown or distribution of programs in the 1984-1985 schedule is essentially unchanged from the previous year, the number of hours per week has increased significantly, from 75 to 92 hours.
At the hearing, the Commission questioned the licensee on its overall approach with respect to educational programming, in light of the Direction to the CRTC, and the licensee's use of programs in which the educational character is not clear. The questions also dealt with the concerns expressed in an intervention presented at the hearing by the Association canadienne de la radio and de la télévision de langue française (ACRTF).
Radio-Québec defined the characteristics of the two main components of its programming, formal and informal educational television, as follows. Formal educational television is intended for clearly identified audiences, who may take part in a specific course of study, possibly involving the use of other media in addition to television. Formal educational television usually incorporates some form of feedback and evaluation, occasionally for the purpose of assigning marks for credit courses; such programs are designed to serve specific purposes, and the audiences for which they are intended are clearly defined.
By comparison, informal educational television is intended for a less clearly identified audience; it avoids a purely instructional framework, and does not usually involve other media, or any form of feedback or evaluation. Programs are designed to serve specific purposes, but without any intention of limiting or controlling the use made of them by the audience.
Radio-Québec added that, in general, educational television endeavours to provide viewers with the opportunity of continuing their personal development, extending and enriching their knowledge, and broadening their interests; at the same time, it should serve as a link between education and culture.
With respect to current events, the Commission notes that the licensee has broadened the range of such programs. Although these programs continue to deal primarily with topics of interest to residents of Quebec, they also include programs on matters of national and, to a lesser extent, international scope. Radio-Québec also produces special public affairs programs concerning major current events. It stated that its purpose is to explain the meaning of events rather than to simply report them, and that the criteria which it uses to select topics for coverage are based on their interest, relevance and importance to the public. When questioned regarding the specific role of educational television in covering events of a political or general nature, the licensee stated [TRANSLATION]:
 We consider this to be clearly part of our educational mandate ... essentially, education is a matter of providing people with knowledge and an ability to observe and judge critically, so that they can understand the environment in which they live, assess what is occurring, and make personal decisions accordingly.
Entertainment productions, whether music or drama, are one of the main programming components of conventional television. This category of programming accounted for more than 30% of Radio-Québec's program schedule for 1983-1984 which, as noted earlier, represents an increase of 10% over 1980-1981.
Overall, the entertainment programs broadcast by Radio-Québec are original and are generally distinct from the type broadcast on conventional television. The "Vendredi chaud" series, consisting of dramas produced by Radio-Québec on Quebec politicians; special programs and special interest music shows such as the "En scène" series, which simulcasts concerts with FM stereo radio stations; and operas and galas from the Metropolitan Opera in New York, are representative of the distinctiveness of the licensee's programming.
With respect to full-length motion pictures, Radio-Québec indicated that its programs feature four separate types of films "Ciné-répertoire" features films of particular interest to cinema enthusiasts; "Ciné-mardi" offers high-quality films for a broader audience, including works by major film-makers not generally broadcast by other stations; "Téléfilms" features what are, in fact, television series as opposed to full-length features; and "Cinémania", a regular summer program, consists mainly of reruns of outstanding movies. The licensee also stated that its goal is to provide a complementary service by presenting a variety of films, including classics, which are not available on other stations and which emphasize European rather than American productions.
At the hearing, the licensee was questioned regarding the possibility of providing commentaries to accompany its full-length motion pictures. Radio-Québec stated that, while it had no objection to broadcasting such commentaries in principal, it intends to complement the films shown on the network through inclusion in its schedule of a new series of interviews with the various directors and stars of these films. The Commission considers that Radio-Québec has an obligation to preserve the educational character of its programming, and to maximize the benefits that viewers may derive from their access to films not generally available on other stations. Accordingly, the Commission encourages the licensee to include, at appropriate times in it schedule, additional explanation and commentary on the full-length features which it broadcasts, in order to bring to the attention of its audience the individual merit of these films and their relative importance in terms of international cinema. The licensee is further encouraged to provide for the greatest possible diversity among its full-length features, and to ensure that films produced in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada are given equitable exposure.
Radio-Québec also broadcasts a number of variety and talk shows. When questioned at the hearing regarding the variety show included in its 1984-1985 program schedule, the licensee stated [TRANSLATION]:
 ... Our plans are to continue to present a variety show simply because it is, in our opinion, a valuable form of cultural expression that has an appropriate place in Radio-Québec's programming. Obviously, a proper balance must be established ... it seems to me that it is Radio-Québec's role to promote Canadian and international performers, which can be accomplished through variety shows.
The Commission acknowledges that this type of program can serve to expand the public's awareness and appreciation of Canadian and internationally-famous artists, but reminds the licensee of its important responsibility to ensure that such programming emphasizes the talents of Quebec and Canadian artists, and provides adequate exposure to emerging talent in particular. It also takes careful note of the licensee's statement that [TRANSLATION] "in our view, no program should be presented solely for entertainment; a format consistent with our mandate must of course be found." Accordingly, the Commission expects the licensee to ensure, in the light of the Direction to the CRTC and in conformity with its own criteria, that the type of variety shows that it broadcasts is distinctly different from that broadcast by private and public television stations.
In discussing its future plans, Radio-Québec stated that it intends to maintain and develop its role as a producer of educational and cultural programming, particularly in the area of formal educational programming.
With respect to the development of formal educational programs, Radio-Québec stated that it is negotiating an agreement with the Quebec Department of Education whereby it will assume responsibility for the production of all educational programming for the Quebec government. Once the agreement is concluded, the Department's staff and related budget ($2.5 million) will be transferred to Radio-Québec. Radio-Québec also expressed its willingness to continue to co-operate with the universities and respond to their needs through participation in a joint committee with the Conference of Rectors and Principals of Quebec Universities, established for the purpose of fostering a closer association.
Concerning informal educational programming, the licensee stated that it "did not intend to increase the proportion of popular cultural programming" in its schedule, but to concentrate instead on developing its Public Affairs, and Services and Lifestyle programming. With regard to news programming, Radio-Québec advised the Commission that, as recommended in the findings of a recent study on the matter, it will avoid any duplication of the programming produced by other television networks, including conventional newscasts. At the same time, Radio-Québec noted that there is a scarcity of magazine-type programs which deal with current events in depth. Accordingly, the licensee outlined plans to develop a program in this category [TRANSLATION], "that would be complementary to what is broadcast by other networks and would have an educational viewpoint."
Radio-Québec also stated that it intends to remain a regional television service. Much of the licensee's effort to regionalize its service has occurred during its last term of licence. Administratively, the licensee has divided its Quebec network into nine regions, each with its own permanent elected committee, budget, staff, and production facilities. Radio-Québec stated that, in 1983-1984 the regions managed to broadcast 448 hours of local programs, in addition to the regular network programming. Radio-Québec advised that, following an internal review conducted in recent months, its future plans have now been established in three principal areas. Under these plans, the number of hours of regional productions will be maintained at their current level; the number of local programs produced for broadcast in more than one region will be steadily expanded; and the regions will increasingly be expected to produce programs for broadcast on the full network.
Prestige sponsorship and restricted advertising
The second major issue which the was the licensee's policy and plans with regard to institutional advertising (prestige sponsorship) and public service announcements. This matter was also the subject of concerns expressed by ACRTF in its intervention at the public hearing.
Radio-Québec has been broadcasting prestige sponsorship messages since 1978 paid public announcements were added in 1982. The revenues derived by Radio-Québec from these two kinds of advertising have not increased greatly over the years, and currently amount to less than 1% of its total revenue.
In its application for licence renewal, Radio-Québec stated that its future development would depend on an increase in such revenue and proposed, therefore, to broaden the type of advertising that it broadcasts; rather than just prestige sponsorship and public service announcements, it proposed to broadcast four types; prestige sponsorship, advertising of a social or public-interest nature, corporate or institutional advertising, and advertising of an informational nature. In addition, the content of announcements would be broadened to allow for the promotion of companies and their products and services.
The licensee stated that, based on its projections, revenues from such advertising in 1989 would represent 2.7% of all national advertising dollars spent in Quebec.
As requested at the hearing, the licensee submitted a statement to the Commission, dated 12 June 1985, setting forth its policy on the broadcast of restricted advertising, in which it [TRANSLATION] "undertakes, during the period covered by this application for renewal of our licences, to abide by the following rules:
1) Radio-Québec will avoid interrupting its programs with commercial announcements; such announcements will be grouped at the beginning and end of programs;
2) In certain cases, commercial announcements may be broadcast during programs, but only where natural pauses occur, and only where they do not interrupt the natural flow of a program;
3) The time devoted to the broadcast of commercial announcements will not exceed six minutes per hour; this includes Radio-Québec's own station and network promotion;
4) Commercial announcements will only be aired on a network basis;
5) Only the network will be permitted to sell air time for commercial announcements. On a regional basis, individual stations will only be permitted to solicit prestige sponsorship."
At the hearing and in its statement of 12 June 1985, Radio-Québec acknowledged that such criteria must be adjusted and altered from time to time to take into account changing values and attitudes. It also noted that its proposed criteria with respect to advertising allowed for some measure of interpretation and that, in some cases, difficulties could arise in defining the parameters clearly.
In view of this remaining uncertainty, Radio-Québec proposed that it be permitted to implement its advertising policy for a trial period of two years, following which the matter could be reviewed with the Commission.
In light of the very limited impact that the licensee's proposals will likely have on the revenues of other broadcasting services during the next few years, their experimental nature, and the licensee's commitments in this regard, the Commission approves, by majority decision, Radio-Quebec's advertising proposals. The Commission considers that the type and the amount of advertising which can be sold in support of an educational programming service are effectively limited by the nature of the programming that it broadcasts.
As discussed at the hearing and agreed to by Radio-Québec, the Commission intends to review with the licensee, in two years time, its advertising policies and their impact.
Due to the relative fragility and limited resources of the regional markets, however, the licences of Radio-Québec and each of its regional stations, except CIVM-TV Montreal, will be subject to the following condition:
 Local advertising, except in Montreal, will be limited to prestige sponsorship and the exchange of services. Accordingly, the mention in recognition of a sponsor's direct or indirect contribution shall be restricted to one of the following three forms:
 "This program is made (was made) possible through the co-operation of (name of company)."
 "This program is made (was made) possible through the co-operation of (name of company), makers of (product)."
 "This program is (has been) presented to you by (name of product)."
 These credits may only be broadcast at the begining and end of a program, and may include the visual or verbal identification of the sponsor and its trademark.
The Commission also notes Radio-Québec's commitment to conform to the advertising code for children. The Commission expects the licensee to submit, within three months of the date of this decision, a statement on the standards and criteria which it will follow regarding the sale of air-time. This document will be placed on Radio-Québec's public file.
The Commission has reviewed Radio-Québec's programming, the particulars of its application, the material in support thereof, as well as its presentation made at the 13 May 1985 public hearing. Based on the evidence, the Commission is satisfied that Radio-Québec provides an educational service that is, on the whole, substantially different from that provided by other television stations, private and public, and that the licensee thus qualifies as an independent corporation under the Direction to the CRTC.
The Commission therefore renews the broadcasting licence for Radio-Québec's educational television network and the broadcasting licences for CIVM-TV Montreal, CIVQ-TV Quebec City, CIVO-TV Hull, CIVP-TV Chapeau, CIVA-TV and CIVA-TV-1 Abitibi-Témiscamingue (Val d'Or and Rouyn), CIVB-TV Rimouski, CIVC-TV Trois-Rivières, CIVS-TV Eastern Townships (Sherbrooke), CIVF-TV Baie-Trinité and CIVG-TV Sept-Iles, Quebec from 1 October 1985 to 30 September 1990, subject to the terms and conditions of licence specified in this decision and in the licences to be issued.
As discussed at the hearing and agreed to by Radio-Québec, during its next licence term, should the licensee wish to alter the direction of its programming outlined in its application and at the hearing, and as further described in this decision, Radio-Québec must submit the proposed changes for the Commission's prior approval.
Co-production with the independent production industry
The Commission notes the successful results of Radio-Québec's increasing involvement and co-operation with private producers. In 1983-1984, Radio-Québec contributed almost $2.5 million to the Quebec distribution and co-production industries. In 1984-1985, Radio-Québec has committed the amount of $4.5 million to individual co-production projects involving partners in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada; this amount does not include approximately $3 million invested by Radio-Québec in the co-production of various television series.
At the hearing, Radio-Québec confirmed plans to expand its involvement in co-productions in order to make use of the ideas and talents that are available, promote the growth of the industry, and take advantage of the substantial funding allocated for this purpose by Telefilm Canada and the Société générale du cinéma. The licensee estimated that co-productions with independent producers, which now account for 7% of Radio-Québec's production, could increase to 20% by 1987-1988. The licensee also outlined plans for a new co-production fund of $5 million, which would supplement existing government subsidies during the next two years, and which should become self-sustaining through revenues derived from programs produced under its sponsorship.
The Commission notes the co-operation that has been established between Radio-Québec and TV Ontario whereby Radio-Québec broadcasts certain of TV Ontario's English-language programs and TV Ontario broadcasts certain French-language programs produced by Radio-Québec. The licensee also described discussions with the Agency for Tele-Education in Canada regarding a future expansion of such exchanges. The Commission encourages the licensee to continue its efforts in this area and to examine the potential for co-productions with other Canadian educational television services. The Commission also notes the exchange of programs now taking place between Radio-Québec and various French-language television services overseas, and its other activities at the international level.
Other Matters
As for the concerns regarding the audience erosion experienced by francophone stations, and the issue of balance between French-language and English-language television services, the licensee stated that the decline in the ratings of francophone stations is not as significant as has been reported, and that balance should be achieved on a qualitative rather than a quantitative basis; television programming offered in one language should be comparable in quality with that available in the other language.
The Commission also discussed with the licensee the methods that could be effectively employed to increase the number of French-language television services in predominantly French-speaking communities and in communities outside of Quebec. In this regard, the Fédération des francophones hors-Québec Inc. submitted an intervention to the Commission expressing the view that Radio-Québec's programs should be made available to communities outside Quebec. Radio-Québec stated that it would be interested in such a plan, but noted that certain problems would first have to be resolved, in particular the transfer and payment of copyright fees related to the direct broadcast of its programs outside Quebec. It confided, however, that it would continue to explore the feasibility of such a plan with other members of the Agency for Tele-Education in Canada. As agreed at the hearing, the Commission expects the licensee to submit a report on plans for the possible extension of its signal beyond Quebec, particularly via cable television.
The Commission received a written intervention from the Centre québecois de la déficience auditive, advocating greater use by Radio-Québec of close-captioned programs for the deaf or hard-of-hearing. At the hearing, Radio-Québec noted that this was a matter of significant importance to it as an educational broadcaster and gave its commitment to provide a minimum of one hour of close-captioned programming per week, beginning in January 1986.
The Commission also notes the licensee's assurance, given at the hearing, that it will continue to broadcast at least one program per week dealing with matters of interest to ethnic groups and native people.
The Commission would also like to thank the Syndicat des employés en radio-télédiffusion de Radio-Québec for the brief that it submitted with respect to Radio-Québec's programming.
Fernand Bélisle Secretary General

Date modified: