ARCHIVED -  Decision CRTC 95-909

This page has been archived on the Web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.


Ottawa, 20 December 1995
Decision CRTC 95-909
Joel Bell, on behalf of a company to be incorporated
Across Canada - 952062800
New national direct-to-home (DTH) French-language pay-per-view television programming undertaking - Denied
Following a Public Hearing held in the National Capital Region beginning 30 October 1995, the Commission denies the application by Joel Bell, on behalf of a company to be incorporated, for a broadcasting licence to carry on a national French-language, general interest, DTH pay-per-view (PPV) television programming undertaking to be known as "Cinéma Direct". This and other decisions issued today are accompanied by Public Notice CRTC 1995-217.
The company to be incorporated that was to operate "Cinéma Direct" is controlled by Power Broadcasting inc., which holds 80,01% of the company shares. Power Broadcasting inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Power Corporation of Canada, which is indirectly controlled by Paul Desmarais of Montréal. Power Broadcasting inc. is also licensed to operate several radio and television stations in Quebec and Ontario.
Context of the Application
This application is one of four filed by the applicant to carry on one DTH distribution undertaking, two DTH PPV programming undertakings - one English-language and one French-language - and one pay audio programming undertaking (see Decisions CRTC 95-902, 95-906 and 95-912 also issued today).
Three of these applications were filed in the wake of Orders P.C. 1995-1105 and P.C. 1995-1106 issued by the Government of Canada on 6 July 1995. In these Orders, the Government issued directions to the Commission regarding the licensing of DTH satellite distribution undertakings and DTH PPV programming undertakings, respectively.
Nature of the Proposed Service
The applicant proposed to offer "Cinéma Direct" programming initially on only one channel. Programming was to consist mainly of feature films and special events available in French. The feature films were to include essentially films that were in theatrical release, and the events were to be primarily live programs (concerts, sports events, performances, etc.).
With regard to Canadian content, the applicant proposed to maintain a Canadian to non-Canadian ratio of 1:12 for first-run feature films and 1:2 for events. The applicant made a commitment to distribute, annually, from the outset and for the first two years of operation, seven Canadian feature films available in French, and two Canadian events. The applicant anticipated increasing its commitments in years three and five, on condition that the number of subscribers warranted it.
With regard to financial viability, the applicant forecast that the operation of this service would incur a loss in each year of the anticipated seven-year licence term. Forecast losses ranged from $741,000 in the second year to $334,000 in the seventh year, for a total forecast loss of $3.7 million over the seven-year period.
Assessment Criteria
Order P.C. 1995-1106 regarding DTH PPV programming undertakings directs the Commission to ensure that "the undertaking is subject to equitable obligations and makes maximum contributions to Canadian programming...". The statement of principle in the preamble to this Order also requires that such undertakings "provide to their subscribers, in competition with each other, the widest range of Canadian and foreign feature films and other programming" and that the Commission "should ensure the continuing integrity of the Canadian broadcasting system through implementation of the broadcasting policy set out in subsection 3(1) of the Broadcasting Act" (the Act).
The broadcasting policy for Canada, as set out in subsection 3(1) of the Act, includes the following:
 k) a range of broadcasting services in English and in French shall be extended to all Canadians as resources become available.
Further, subsection 5(2) of the Act provides as follows:
 2) The Canadian broadcasting system should be regulated and supervised in a flexible manner that
 (a) is readily adaptable to the different characteristics of English and French language broadcasting and to the different conditions under which broadcasting undertakings that provide English or French language programming operate;
 (b) takes into account regional needs and concerns.
The Commission's Assessment
The applicant acknowledged at the hearing that its commitment to allocate only one channel for French-language programming [TRANSLATION] "is not much". It argued, however, that its proposal should not be viewed in isolation, but rather considered in the broader context of its overall applications and commitments.
The applicant reminded the Commission that its application provided for growth, with the possible addition of one French-language channel in the third year of operation and another in the fifth year, if the number of subscribers warrants. Replying to the interventions, the applicant indicated that it is also prepared to accept a condition of licence in this regard. The applicant further stated that its application to operate an English-language DTH PPV programming service ("Power DirecTicket") provided for the possibility of including a French-language audio track with the English-language programming on some channels, notably for feature films that are already dubbed in French. However, the applicant acknowledged that this proposal added nothing to its application for "Cinéma Direct".
Having weighed the intrinsic merits of this application, the Commission considers that it does not meet the criteria referred to above and set out in Order P.C. 1995-1106 as well as in the Act.
In the Commission's view, carrying all films and events on the same channel initially would not provide the programming diversity and maximum repeat factor that viewers are entitled to expect of a PPV service. By comparison, the Commission notes that the English-language DTH PPV service proposed by the applicant is to be offered on 63 channels from the outset.
In addition, the applicant proposed to exhibit initially only seven Canadian feature films a year that are available in the French version, but it did not make a commitment in its application or at the hearing to distribute at least all Canadian feature films that were in theatrical release in French-language markets during the year. The applicant also proposed to carry only two Canadian events a year initially and, possibly, up to five events in years five through seven.
In view of all of the foregoing, the Commission considers that the applicant did not demonstrate that the proposal, as filed, would permit the achievement of the objectives of the broadcasting policy for Canada as set out in the Act, notably with respect to contribution to the presentation of Canadian programming and maximum use of Canadian resources.
The Commission is also convinced that, if it approved such a limited French-language service, the objectives set out in the Act regarding the reflection of Canada's linguistic duality would not be achieved and the operating conditions of the proposed undertaking would not indicate due regard to the characteristics of the French-language market in Canada.
In this respect, the Commission notes that the applicant acknowledged in its application and at the hearing that it had filed this application solely for the purpose of meeting the requirements of Order P.C. 1995-1105 respecting DTH satellite distribution undertakings, which states in part:
 where the undertaking decides to distribute one or more English-language per-per-view services, the undertaking is required to distribute at least one French-language pay-per-view service as soon as that service becomes licensed for DTH distribution.
The applicant stated in this regard: "I think it would be fair to say that if we were only applying for
one licence today, it wouldn't be this licence".
In Decision CRTC 95-902 issued today, the Commission authorized the applicant to carry on a DTH satellite distribution undertaking. This approval is subject to the condition that this undertaking distribute the French-language DTH PPV programming service ("Canal Première"), which the Commission also approved today (Decision CRTC 95-908). The Commission notes that the French-language service "Canal Première" will be offered on nine channels from start-up.
The Commission acknowledges the many interventions received regarding this application, most of which opposed the proposal essentially for the reasons set out in this decision.
Allan J. Darling
Secretary General

Date modified: