ARCHIVED -  Public Notice CRTC 1985-67

This page has been archived on the Web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.

Public Notice

Ottawa, 27 March 1985
Public Notice CRTC 1985-67
Call for Comments Respecting Northern Native Broadcasting
On 14 December 1984 the Commission issued Public Notice CRTC 1984-310 regarding Northern Native Broadcasting, in which it announced the formation of a Northern Native Broadcasting Committee (the Committee) composed of CRTC Vice-Chairman Réal Therrien and Commissioner Paul McRae, under the chairmanship of the latter, for the purpose of identifying broadcasting-related problems currently experienced by the native communications societies being funded through the Northern Native Broadcast Access Program (NNBAP).
The Committee has held informal con- sultative meetings with representa- tives of the CBC, the Native Citizens Directorate of the Department of the Secretary of State which administers the NNBAP, and with representatives of most of the thirteen native communications societies funded through the NNBAP. This consultation not only has permitted the Committee to appreciate more fully the complex issues facing the NNBAP groups, the CBC, and others, but will also contribute toward the development of a more comprehensive policy respecting northern native broadcasting.
As radio and television services penetrated the North, native citizens began to initiate their own broadcast services. At the same time, as the availability of southern services increased, the need for a greater balance in broadcasting services increased, creating a concomitant demand for more native programming.
In 1967 the CBC introduced its Frontier Coverage Packages which, until the early seventies, provided videotaped programming for the transient southern residents in 21 northern administrative communities and resource centres, and which generally had little impact on native culture and languages.
In November 1972 Telesat Canada's Anik A-1 satellite was launched, and in February 1973 the CBC began providing live television to the north.
The introduction of significant amounts of radio and television to Northern native communities began in 1974 with the introduction of the CBC's Accelerated Coverage Plan (ACP), which provided national services in the appropriate official language to communities of more than 500 persons. There are now ACP stations in over 600 remote communities throughout Canada, including 125 predominantly native communities. The ACP provided for the purchase, operation and maintenance of satellite-receiving equipment and low-power transmitters. No funds were allocated for the actual production of programming in the regions served, since the main objective of the ACP was to extend the national programming service to northern and remote regions.
Northern native peoples had their first opportunity to produce and distribute their own television programming beginning in 1978 through an experimental program sponsored by the federal Department of Communications and utilizing the ANIK B satellite. Two Inuit projects, one named "Inukshuk", under the auspices of the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada, and another conducted by Taqramiut Nipingat Inc. provided pilot television services to the Eastern Arctic and Northern Quebec Inuit communities respectively. These landmark experiments demonstrated that native peoples wanted, needed and could provide television programming to meet the cultural and linguistic needs of their diverse societies.
In its extensive 1980 report, the Committee on Extension of Service to Northern and Remote Communities (The Therrien Committee) recognized both the need for more choice in radio and television programming, and the potential harm such an influx could have on native culture and language. Many of these cultures had existed in near-isolation for centuries, and their leaders were determined that southern influences not dominate their customs. There was a particular concern that native youth could lose their traditional language. In addressing this issue, the Therrien Committee recommended that:
 Canada must fulfill its objectives to provide opportunity for its native peoples to preserve the use of their languages and foster the maintenance and development of their own particular cultures through broadcasting and other communications.
To rectify the lack of programming choices in northern and remote communities, the Commission in 1981 licensed Canadian Satellite Communications Inc. (CANCOM) from among several applicants to deliver a variety of southern Canadian radio and television services to remote and under served communities. The licence requires CANCOM to provide one video and two audio uplinks in the North for northern programming, and to substitute up to 10 hours per week of southern-originated programming with native television programming.
At the same time that it licensed CANCOM, the Commission also issued licenses to the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) and to the Council of Yukon Indians and Dene Nation.
The Northern Broadcasting Policy
On l0 March 1983 the federal government announced the establishment of a Northern Broadcasting Policy, which included a set of five policy principles, and which provided for a funding mechanism (the Northern Native Broadcast Access Program) to facilitate the production of indigenous programming in Northern Canada.
The five policy principles setting out terms of reference for the CBC and private broadcasters serving the North are as follows:
1. Northern residents should be of fered access to an increasing range of programming choices through the exploitation of technological opportunities;
2. Northern native people should have the opportunity to participate actively in the determination by the CRTC of the character, quantity and priority of programming broadcast in predominantly native communities;
3. Northern native people should have fair access to Northern broadcasting distribution systems to maintain and develop their cultures and languages;
4. Programming relevant to native concerns, including content originated by native people, should be produced for distribution on northern broadcasting services wherever native people form a significant proportion of the population in the service area;
5. Northern native representatives should be consulted regularly by government agencies engaged in establishing broadcasting policies which would affect their cultures.
At the same time, the government requested the CBC to present a plan for an enhanced radio and television programming service in the North, and called on the Commission to implement these policy principles.
The Northern Native Broadcast Access Program
The NNBAP was established with federal funding of $40.3 million over four years to assist Northern native communications societies to produce programming for radio (up to 20 hours per week) and television (up to 5 hours per week). Administered by the Department of the Secretary of State, the program commenced 1 April 1983.
The definition of the Canadian North is based on the commonly accepted Hamelin line with slight modifications to include traditionally accepted boundaries.
Thirteen specific regions have been identified, primarily on the basis of common languages, culture, and provincial boundaries. Native communications societies representing each region have received funding.
Of the thirteen societies, twelve are now operational. Of these, seven are presently broadcasting, and the remainder will soon begin programming. Although some regions contain a linguistic mix, each funded group must meet the specific linguistic needs identified in their research projects.
Some of the societies include experienced broadcasters who have been involved in community or regional radio programming or television production for several years, while others are relatively new to broadcasting. In all cases, the Committee has been impressed with the enthusiasm, dedication and professionalism that these communications societies have demonstrated.
Concerns Raised by Northern Native Broadcasters
One of the most pressing concerns facing the NNBAP-funded societies is the issue of access to northern distribution systems. This has been a continuing problem with regionally-based broadcasters such as IBC, TNI, and others, who own, operate and maintain their own studios and production equipment, and in some cases their own transmitters, but who must depend on the CBC's Northern Services satellite feed, or terrestial microwave systems for distribution of their programs to their dispersed target communities. It should be noted that the CBC Northern Services have been instrumental in providing a variety of native language radio programs and a small amount of television throughout the North. However, its capability to provide additional access to its distribution systems for the increasing amounts of native-produced programming over the next few years is severely hampered by pressures on its facilities to distribute its own programming.
At a recent meeting in January, the Committee was made aware of some fundamental and general concerns raised by the societies, as well as specific problems that some of them have encountered.
In their discussions with the Committee, the NNBAP-funded societies have stressed the need for a fundamental change in philosophy of the CBC's northern services, to allow for more regional native access during appropriate periods. This would require the deletion or pre-emption of segments of the Northern Services' regular schedule.
It is often easier to accommodate regional requirements for radio than for television. TV Ontario and the WaWaTa Native Communications Society have struck an agreement whereby the WaWaTa radio service is presently distributed to 23 communities via a subcarrier on the TV Ontario satellite transponder, with the objective of ultimately serving 40 communities.
Another solution would be to dedicate a satellite transponder to the exclusive use of northern native broadcasters. This raises the question of who would fund such a transponder and who would control the scheduling.
In other cases, satellite distribution may not be necessary if the native broadcaster can gain access to a local or regional private broadcaster. This brings into question the role to be played by the private broadcasters who have been licensed to serve communities that include, and whose signal reaches, a significant native population.
In all cases, the NNBAP-funded societies make reference to the government's Northern Broadcasting Policy which stipulates that northern native people should have fair access to northern distribution systems to maintain and develop their cultures and languages. Some native representatives are of the view that the best way to ensure fair access would be to amend the Broadcasting Act to entrench the right to native programming in the Canadian broadcasting system. Another major concern raised by these societies was the issue of consultation and participation in the development of a comprehensive policy and in the determination of the character, quantity and priority of programming broadcast in predominantly native communities, as delineated by the Government's Northern Broadcasting Policy.
Some representatives suggested the formation of a permanent advisory council to assist the Commission; others called for the appointment of a native commissioner.
The native broadcasters raised the question of CRTC procedures, suggesting that licensing procedures be simplified and that experimental projects be approved, including some level of commercial activity. Finally, it was stressed that a public hearing be conducted to fully explore the issues, concerns, and potential solutions.
Prior to determining the need for a public hearing, the Commission has determined that it would be beneficial to solicit the views of all interested parties on matters of concern affecting northern native broadcasting. Without limiting the scope or extent of the comments, the Commission is particularly interested in receiving responses to the following questions:
1. What criteria should be applied in determining what constitutes "fair access" to "northern distribution systems" and "northern broadcasting services"? To what extent should demographics and the dispersion of population affect the determination of what constitutes "fair access"?
2. What should be the role of the CBC in the provision of native programming in the north? What amount of native programming should be included in the schedule of the CBC's Northern Services? Of this, how much should be access programming produced by independent native communications societies?
3. How can the needs of the northern non-indigenous population for southern-originated radio or television programming be balanced against the needs of northern native Canadians for native programming?
4. To what extent should the private broadcasters be responsible for the provision of access for native producers or for the provision of service to the native population in communities they reach? Should access be provided at no cost, or should native communications groups be required to pay for air time?
5. To what extent should demographics affect the determination of what constitutes a "balanced service"?
6. What measures -- in addition to the present procedures -- should be taken to ensure native participation and consultation in the Commission's ongoing development of northern native broadcasting policies?
7. To what extent is it practical to utilize the CBC's Northern Services, during off-hours, to transmit native programs to predominantly native communities for later retransmission?
8. Is a dedicated transponder a practical solution to the distribution needs? If so, who should pay for such a facility? Who should control, operate, and determine scheduling priorities?
9. What is the best means of utilizing the 10 hours per week reserved by CANCOM for the distribution of native-produced television programming?
10. Should radio and television operations require separate policies and solutions?
Comments should be submitted on or before 24 May 1985, and be addressed to Fernand Bélisle, Secretary General, CRTC, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0N2.
Fernand Bélisle Secretary General

Date modified: