ARCHIVED -  Decision CRTC 92-369

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Ottawa, 18 June 1992
Decision CRTC 92-369
Various Locations Across Canada (see Appendix)
Following a Public Hearing in the National Capital region commencing 2 December 1991, the Commission, for the reasons set out herein, denies each of the applications listed in the appendix to this decision. All but two of the applications were for licences to carry on radiocommunication distribution undertakings (RDU) for the purpose of transmitting broadcasting services to subscribers in the vicinity of various cities and other communities across Canada, using multipoint distribution system (MDS) technology. These applications were submitted in response to a call for applications issued by the Commission in October 1990 (Public Notice CRTC 1990-96).
In the case of Edmonton, Shaw Cablesystems (Alberta) Ltd. (Shaw) and Videotron Communications Ltd. (Videotron) also submitted applications to extend the boundaries of their existing cable distribution undertakings serving that city. The proposed boundaries include areas that would also have been served under a proposal for an MDS operation, herein denied, which was to have been jointly owned by Shaw and Videotron. Their applications to extend cable service boundaries were predicated upon approval of their jointly-sponsored MDS application, and have been denied accordingly.
At the time of the Commission's October 1990 call for applications, MDS was generally perceived as a technology that would complement, or offer an alternative to, cable television technology. Under the policies of the Department of Communications, some 31 channels were initially allocated for the distribution of broadcast services by MDS. This number, however, was subsequently reduced to 15. Given this relatively limited capacity, it was expected that only one fifteen-channel MDS transmitter would be economically viable in any given area.
In its October 1990 public notice, the Commission stated that issues related to future cable expansion, the financial viability of neighbouring subscription-based systems, and frequency limitations, should be addressed by applicants. It emphasized that these issues needed to be resolved before a comprehensive policy could be developed and MDS technology successfully deployed for the purpose envisaged by that call. The Commission's call sought applications specifically for the extension of subscription television services to locations unserved by cable and falling within the Grade B signal contours of television stations providing a third Canadian service. Thus, discussion at the 2 December hearing focused on these issues solely in the context of the applications then before the Commission, these being proposals for the use of MDS technology for 15-channel, subscription-based radiocommunication distribution undertakings operating in areas that, while in relatively close proximity to urban areas, are not currently served by cable.
In the period since the call for applications, the broadcasting environment has continued to evolve at a rapid pace, characterized by significant developments in such new broadcasting technologies as digital video compression (DVC); direct broadcast satellite (DBS) transmission; high definition television (HDTV); digital signal processing, recording and transmission; and optical fibre. The first of these, DVC, holds forth the promise of increasing dramatically the capacity of MDS to deliver services. DVC technology, which could be available for practical use within the broadcasting industry in 1994, may render it possible to transmit perhaps four or more television services on each of the 15 MDS microwave channels currently allotted for broadcast use. Such expanded capacity would increase the economic viability of MDS technology and, coincidentally, intensify its potential impact on existing components of the broadcasting system, notably conventional cable and conventional television services. It is also possible that DVC may alter the relative economic viability of conventional cable to extend service to areas served, or proposed for service, by an MDS-based undertaking.
MDS technology, enhanced by DVC in this manner, may permit more than one subscription-based undertaking to operate in the same vicinity, perhaps in competition with each other or with existing cable television undertakings. Given the scarcity of VHF and UHF frequencies in some urban areas, MDS may also come to be viewed by the industry as a viable, over-the-air transmission technology for use by television program undertakings.
The issues canvassed at the 2 December 1991 hearing did not, to any significant degree, include discussion of the much expanded channel capacity that DVC may give to undertakings employing MDS technology, and the broader questions that such capacity would raise regarding how MDS might best be put to use. Nor has the Commission yet had the opportunity to consult with the industry, the provinces, consumer groups or the public concerning their views on such questions.
These, and many other issues now emerging as a consequence of recent advances in broadcasting technology, are matters that the Commission intends to pursue in the context of the structural hearing tentatively scheduled for the spring of 1993. Details regarding the timing and the scope of this public process will be announced at a later date. At this time, however, the Commission has determined that the public interest is best served by denying all of the MDS applications heard at the 2 December 1991 hearing. Moreover, until completion of its broader policy review, the Commission will not generally be prepared to either consider or grant approval to applications proposing the use of MDS technology.
Allan J. Darling
Secretary General
Appendix to Decision CRTC 92-369/Annexe à la décision CRTC 92-369
Shaw Cablesystems (Alberta) Ltd. Cablestrie Inc.
Edmonton, Alberta Saint-Liboire, Québec
- 911614600 - 910190800
Shaw Cablesystems (Alberta) Ltd., Cablovision Alma Inc.
on behalf of a company to be Alma, Québec
incorporated/au nom d'une compagnie - 910187400
devant être constituée
Edmonton, Alberta La Belle Vision Inc.
- 910136100 Deschaillons, Montmagny and/et
Saint-Gérard-Magella, Québec
Videotron Communications Ltd. - 910189000 - 910186600 - 910193200
Edmonton, Alberta
- 911615300 Thetford Vidéo Inc.
Saint-George (Beauce), Thetford
Cablecasting Limited Mines and/et Tring Jonction, Québec
Calgary, Alberta; St. Thomas, Ontario - 902069400 - 902068600 - 910191600
- 910130400 - 910296300
Cablevision Haut St-Laurent Inc., on
Cablenet Ltd. behalf of a company to be
Lethbridge, Alberta; Kingston and/et incorporated/a nom d'une compagnie
Oakville/Burlington, Ontario devant être constituée
- 910137900 - 910139500 - 910138700 Huntingdon, Québec
- 910205400
Sky Cable Inc.
Brandon, Dauphin, Foxwarren, Portage Cablevision du Nord de Québec Inc.
La Prairie, and/et Riding Mountain, La Sarre, Notre-Dame-du-Nord, Rouyn-
Manitoba Noranda and/et Val d'Or, Québec
- 910132000 - 910133800 - 910134600 - 910120500 - 910123900 - 910122100
- 910135300 - 910415900 - 910121300
Westman Media Co-operative Ltd. Mégantic Transvision Inc.
Minnedosa, Manitoba Lac-Mégantic, Québec
- 910159300 - 911609600
Winnipeg Videon Incorporated Normand Paré and/et Michel Rouleau,
Winnipeg, Manitoba on behalf of a company to be
- 910141100 incorporated/au nom d'une compagnie
devant être constituée
Greater Winnipeg Cablevision Limited Fleurimont, Saint-Edwidge-de-
Winipeg, Manitoba Clifton, Milby, East-Clifton,
- 910142900 Développement Nadeau and/et Saint-
Denis-de Brompton, Québec
Classic Communications Ltd. - 910341700
Uxbridge, Ontario
- 910146000 Transvision Plus Inc.
Cowansville, Bolton Glen, Brome,
John and Steven Ward, on behalf of Fulford and/et Sugar Hill, Québec
a company to be incorporated/ - 910179100
au nom d'une compagnie devant être
constituée Vidéo Québec Inc.
Dublin, Ontario Saint-Joseph-de-Beauce, Calway,
- 910304500 Riviere-des-Plantes, Saint Frédéric
and/et Saint-Jules, Québec
Vidéotron Ltée - 910147800
Dolbeau, Montréal, Québec/Lévis
and/et Victoriaville, Québec
- 910183300 - 910180900 - 910181700
- 910182500

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