ARCHIVED -  Public Notice CRTC 1985-28

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Public Notice

Ottawa, 15 February 1985
Public Notice CRTC 1985-28
Simultaneous Substitution on Cable of Television Signals Containing Closed Captioned Programs
For related documents: see Public Announcement dated 12 May 1981.
On 5 October 1983, following a process of public consultation and on the recommendation of the Executive Committee, the Commission approved an amendment to section 19 of the Cable Television Regulations by adding subsection (2.1), thereby attenuating the simultaneous signal substitution requirements contained in that section. The amendment was subsequently published in the Canada Gazette, Part II on 26 October 1983 (SOR/83-782). Section 19 is set out in its entirety in the appendix to this Notice.
The principal aim of the amendment is to ensure, to the greatest extent possible, that closed captioned versions of television programs are made available to cable television subscribers who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Closed captions are carried in subsidiary signals which are broadcast by television licensees as an integral part of their television service, using the Vertical Blanking Interval (VBI). Essentially, they provide a printed summary of a program's spoken word content similar to the subtitles superimposed on prints of foreign-language motion pictures. Closed captions are only visible on the television screen with the aid of special decoding equipment and are of significant benefit to viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Under the signal substitution requirements of section 19, licensees of Class A cable television under 19, (those with 6,000 or more subscribers) who receive requests from television licensees are required to delete signals received from stations of lesser priority, and substitute, in their place, identical signals broadcast simultaneously by the higher priority stations. The amendment to Section 19 of the cable regulations provides the Commission with a regulatory mechanism enabling it to grant exemptions from the requirement that cable television licensees must carry out signal substitution in those instances where the signal to be deleted carries a subsidiary signal, such as closed captioning, while the substitute signal does not.
Following enactment of the amendment in 1983, the Commission became aware of certain procedural difficulties in its implementation. Since that time, the Commission has held various discussions with representatives of the broadcasting and cable television industries, major television networks, the Canadian Co-ordinating Council on Deafness, the Canadian Captioning Development Agency and others, for the purpose of finding the means to avoid these difficulties while best achieving the Commission's primary purpose of maximizing the accessibility of closed captioned programs to those who are deaf or hard of hearing.
During this same period, the Commission has noted the efforts of the major television networks to increase the availability of closed captioned programs, in particular those of the CTV and CBC networks which provide closed captioned versions of their national news and other programs to their viewers.
In light of its discussions with all parties and the increased availability of captioned programs, the Commission has reached the following conclusions and wishes to notify all parties concerned that the amended regulation will be administered as follows:
The Commission will expect individual television licensees to ensure the greatest possible availability of closed captioned programs, including Canadian programs, to all television viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing, both cable subscribers and non-subscribers alike. The Commission notes, in this regard, the willingness expressed by the Canadian Captioning Development Agency to cooperate with the broadcasting industry in providing television licensees with information about the availability of closed captioned programs. The Commission also encourages continuing discussions between all parties concerned so that progress can be made towards ensuring that closed captions become an integral part of the programming available to viewers.
Furthermore, the Commission expects television licensees to adhere to the following principles:
1. they should continue to make every effort to present the captioned versions of programs whenever these exist; and
2. they should only request simultaneous substitution against a closed captioned program when they have obtained a closed captioned version, or have taken all necessary measures to obtain it but have not been able to do so for reasons beyond their control.
The Commission, in conjunction with the Canadian Co-ordinating Council on Deafness and other representatives of the deaf and hard of hearing in Canada, will monitor closely the cooperation of television licensees in adhering to these principles. In cases where such co-operation is demonstrated to be absent, the Commission is prepared to respond quick and favourably to requests from cable television licensees for exemption from the substitution requirements of section 19 of the Cable Television Regulations.
The Commission also notes that there is an increasing number of advertisers who are providing closed captioned versions of commercials for television. The Commission expects television licensees to take the necessary care in handling these commercials to ensure that the captioned information reaches those viewers for whom it is intended.
A number of television licensees have not yet applied for licence amendments to make use of the VBI for closed captioning. The Commission expects such licensees to submit the necessary requests without delay.
Fernand Bélisle
Secretary General
Section 19 of the Cable Television Regulations
19.(1) Subject to section 19.1, where identical signals are to be transmitted during the same period or periods by two or more stations whose signals a licensee is required or authorized to distribute, the operatof the local television station or regional television station that has the higher or highest priority established by sections 6 to 8,
(a) may, not less than seven days before the transmission of such an identical signal by another station give written notice to the licensee to delete that signal
(i) specifying the signal and the date and time of its scheduled transmission, and
(ii) designating the station transmit the signal;
(b) shall, immediately before the transmission of the signal specified in the notice given pursuant to paragraph (a),
(i) verify the accuracy of the notice,
(ii) verify that the station or stations that were to transmit the identical signal have not been exempted from the application of this section, and
(iii) where any change is required to be made in the notice, forthwith inform the licensee in respect thereof both orally and in writing.
(2) Where a licensee receives a notice in accordance with subsection (1) by the operator of a station having the higher or highest priority established by sections 6 to 8 he shall delete the signal specified and insert in place thereof the signal transmitted by that station.
(2.1) Where a notice has been given under subsection (1) to delete a signal that contains a subsidiary signal designed to inform, enlighten or entertain and a similar subsidiary signal is not transmitted by the television station that gave the notice, the Commission may, on application by a licensee and on such terms and conditions as it considers appropriate, exempt the licensee from the application of subsection (2) where is satisfied that the exemption would be in the public interest.
(3) This section applies only to licensees holding Class A cable television broadcasting licences.

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