ARCHIVED -  Decision CRTC 93-635

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Ottawa, 29 September 1993

Decision CRTC 93-635

Cable Parliamentary Channel Inc./La Chaîne parlementaire par câble Inc.
Across Canada - 930357900 - 930358700

Following a Public Hearing held in the National Capital Region beginning on 6 July 1993, the Commission approves the applications submitted by Cable Parliamentary Channel Inc./la Chaîne parlementaire par câble Inc. (CPAC) for licences to carry on English- and French-language satellite to cable programming undertakings to provide, to cable distribution undertakings across Canada, via satellite, coverage of the proceedings of the House of Commons as well as public affairs programming.

The Commission will issue licences for satellite to cable programming undertakings to CPAC, on an experimental basis, expiring 30 September 1994, subject to the conditions specified in this decision and in the licences to be issued.

CPAC is operated on a not-for-profit basis by members of the Canadian cable television industry. The Commission notes that no fee will be charged to subscribers for this service.CPAC's Current Service

Currently, under an agreement with the House of Commons, represented by the Speaker of the House, CPAC distributes the televised proceedings of the House of Commons to cable distribution undertakings across Canada. In Public Notice CRTC 1992-6 dated 17 January 1992 and entitled "House of Commons and Provincial or Territorial Legislature Proceedings Exemption Order", the Commission exempted broadcasters, such as CPAC, carrying on undertakings providing coverage of the proceedings of the House of Commons and provincial or territorial legislatures from licensing requirements, as long as they only broadcast programming that fits within the criteria stipulated in that notice.

CPAC's Proposed Services

In the present applications, CPAC is requesting authority to provide additional, complementary public affairs programming on its parliamentary channel service. CPAC proposes to provide unedited coverage of public proceedings and events of interest to all Canadians.

CPAC will originate and distribute across Canada complete coverage of public proceedings such as royal commissions, task forces or special committees of inquiry, federal-provincial conferences, premiers' conferences, the proceedings of federal regulatory agencies, and public proceedings of federal or provincial political parties.

CPAC will also seek co-operative arrangements with other Canadian broadcasters, such as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the CTV Television Network, to provide national, full-length coverage of public affairs programming which these services may choose not to broadcast in its entirety. In addition, CPAC will provide national coverage of events or proceedings of national significance that are originated by local cable companies on their community channel. From time to time, CPAC will distribute programming produced by agencies, such as Elections Canada, which provide information to Canadians on the Canadian democratic process and opportunities to participate in this process.

CPAC stated that the amount of public affairs programming to be broadcast on its expanded service will vary, depending upon the availability of appropriate events and proceedings. The applicant stressed that, in scheduling its programming, priority will be given to the proceedings of the House of Commons, as stipulated in its agreement with the Speaker of the House.

In its application, CPAC stated that its service:

will serve as an absolutely neutral vehicle for the coverage of views held by others. The service itself will not adopt or promote a particular editorial view on any issue or event.

The Commission nevertheless notes that CPAC will exercise editorial control in the selection of the programming which it broadcasts on its service. The Commission's policy on balance within the Canadian broadcasting system is based on subsection 3(i) of the Broadcasting Act which states that:

the programming provided by the Canadian broadcasting system ... should provide a reasonable opportunity for the public to be exposed to the expression of differing views on matters of public concern.

The Commission expects CPAC to adhere to this policy on balance.

The applications set out six key operating principles. The programming to be offered must:

respect the letter and spirit of the applicant's agreement with the House of Commons;

not present the applicant's own editorial position;

present a balance of diverse points of view and, in particular, represent the various views held by Canadians in the different regions of the country;

reflect Canada's dual linguistic nature; complement public affairs programming provided by other Canadian programming services; and

not contain any commercial content.

The Commission expects CPAC to adhere to these principles and will follow with interest CPAC's performance in this regard.

It is a condition of licence that the licensee retain in a form acceptable to the Commission, a program log or machine-readable record and audiovisual recording of all programming distributed other than the "gavel to gavel" coverage of the proceedings of the House of Commons and its various committees, in accordance with provisions set out in section 10 of the Television Broadcasting Regulations, 1987.


The Government of Ontario submitted an opposing intervention claiming that CPAC's proposals should be considered at the same time as other applications expected as a result of the Commission's call, in Public Notice CRTC 1993-77 dated 3 June 1993, for applications for licences to carry on new Canadian specialty, pay television and pay-per-view programming undertakings. The Government of Ontario also expressed concern that CPAC had not provided sufficient information on how it would ensure balance in its public affairs programming. The National Association of Broadcast Employees & Technicians, representing employees of the House of Commons Broadcasting and Electronic Services, also submitted an opposing intervention stating that "one channel should be reserved as the exclusive domain of Parliament and its related activities".

The Commission is satisfied with CPAC's response to these interventions. Moreover, the Commission is satisfied that CPAC has provided adequate justification to support the introduction, on an experimental basis, of complementary public affairs programming on its parliamentary channel service.

Closed-Captioning & Subtitles and the Canadian Association of the Deaf are both national, not-for-profit advocacy organizations that assist deaf and hard-of-hearing people. These organizations also submitted interventions opposing the present applications on the grounds that CPAC currently does not provide adequate access to its programming for deaf and hard-of-hearing Canadians. The Commission notes the applicant's reply that the availability of a closed-captioned version of a program will be a factor in selecting additional public affairs programming.

The Commission acknowledges the interventions submitted by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the CTV Television Network Ltd. and the Canadian Cable Television Association in support of these applications.

Allan J. Darling
Secretary General

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