ARCHIVED -  Decision CRTC 92-684

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Ottawa, 4 September 1992
Decision CRTC 92-684
Open Learning Agency
Burnaby, British Columbia - 920440500
Following a Public Hearing held in the National Capital Region on 12 August 1992, the Commission approves the application by the Open Learning Agency (OLA) for a broadcasting licence to carry on an English-language educational television programming undertaking, for the purpose of broadcasting educational programming to serve British Columbia. The Commission will issue a licence, expiring 31 August 1999, subject to the conditions specified in this decision and in the licence to be issued.
The OLA was established by an Act of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia in 1987 and proclaimed in force in April 1988. A degree-granting program affiliated with the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University, the OLA consists of three components: Open University, Open College and Knowledge Network. The OLA's activities for which this licence will be issued are those relating to the Knowledge Network, the "public broadcast" portion of the organization's operations.
The Knowledge Network, established in 1980, was merged with the OLA in 1988. According to the Knowledge Network's mission statement, its programming "is designed to provide formal and informal television-led learning opportunities for children and adults in British Columbia". The Commission notes that the OLA will not broadcast any commercial messages. While the licensee will receive some revenues from sponsorships and corporate indentification, the OLA's operations are funded primarily by British Columbia's Ministry of Advanced Education, Training and Technology. The Knowledge Network receives additional funding from the provincial government for the Knowledge Network Development Fund and the Schools TV program; it also receives funding from both the provincial and federal governments for specific projects.
The Knowledge Network will offer 112 hours of programming each week: 45% will be devoted to formal, curriculum-based programming, including credit and non-credit courses, and 55% to informal, general education programming. According to the applicant, its formal and informal programming in 1992-1993 will fall into eight themes, which it identifies as: Arts and Humanities, Career and Personal Development, Economic Development, Environment, Health, Leisure, Science and Technology, and Social and Political Affairs.
The Commission notes OLA's commitment to adhere to the requirements of the Television Broadcasting Regulations, 1987 by devoting at least 60% of the broadcast year and at least 50% of the evening broadcast period, to the broadcast of Canadian programs.
The OLA estimates that its total programming expenses in the first year of the licence term will be $4,135,667, of which $2,067,834 (49.8%) will be directed to Canadian programming. According to the OLA, the total programming expenses will increase to $4,827,235 in the seventh year of the term, of which $2,413,618 (49.9%) will be directed to Canadian programming.
The OLA advised the Commission that, in keeping with the applicant's objective of providing a British Columbian perspective on the Knowledge Network, it will strive to acquire appropriate programming from local independent producers as much as possible. Through the Knowledge Network Development Fund, the OLA will allocate approximately $175,000 each year to British Columbia's independent producers for the development and production of educational television programming. The OLA also plans to produce original programs on specific topics for the Knowledge Network and to produce British Columbian segments of national programs co-produced with other educational broadcasters.
The Knowledge Network is a member of the Association for Tele-Education in Canada (ATEC) and acquires a significant portion of its programming from other members of the ATEC.
The Commission notes the OLA's commitment to "providing a voice to Canada's Native peoples" through the Knowledge Network series, "Native Indians: Images of Reality", a series which focuses on native issues.
The Commission authorizes the OLA to make use of the Vertical Blanking Interval. The Commission expects the OLA to adhere to the guidelines set out in Appendix A to Public Notice CRTC 1989-23 dated 23 March 1989 entitled Services Using the Vertical Blanking Interval (Television) or Subsidiary Communications Multiplex Operation (FM). This authority may only be implemented when the Department of Communications gives the technical approval required by the Radiocommunication Act and the regulations made thereunder.
The Commission notes the OLA's undertaking to acquire the closed- captioned versions of programs whenever possible, as a service to the deaf and the hearing-impaired. The OLA has installed a Telecommunication Device for the Deaf (TDD) in the Access Ability department of its Burnaby facility so that hearing-impaired viewers may have ready telephone access to the applicant for the purpose, among other things, of bringing attention to technical problems arising with respect to closed-captioned programming.
It is a condition of licence that the applicant adhere to the guidelines on sex-role portrayal set out in the Canadian Association of Broadcasters' Sex-Role Portrayal Code for Television and Radio Programming, as amended from time to time and approved by the Commission.
The Commission acknowledges the intervention submitted by the Pacific Captioning Assistance Society (PCAS) opposing this application on the grounds that the OLA "disregards" closed captioning. In response, the OLA reiterated its commitment to acquire closed- captioned educational television programs whenever possible. The Commission notes that the PCAS has subsequently met with the OLA to exchange information and explore opportunities to increase the amount of closed-captioned programming distributed on the Knowledge Network. The Commission is satisfied with the applicant's response in this regard.
The Commission also acknowledges the interventions submitted by the Alberta Educational Communications Corporation (ACCESS NETWORK), TVOntario, the British Columbia Motion Picture Association and Cineworks in support of this application.
Allan J. Darling
Secretary General

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