ARCHIVED -  Decision CRTC 96-615

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Ottawa, 4 September 1996
Decision CRTC 96-615
Télé-Métropole inc.
Province of Quebec - 199600990
"Le Canal Nouvelles" - Approved
Following a Public Hearing held in the National Capital Region beginning on 6 May 1996, the Commission approves the application by Télé-Métropole inc. (the licensee) for a broadcasting licence to carry on a regional French-language specialty programming undertaking (Specialty Television Service) to be known as "Le Canal Nouvelles" (LCN).
This service will be delivered via satellite to all broadcasting distribution undertaking in the province of Quebec. In the case of those distribution undertakings that are subject to the Commission's distribution and linkage requirements, it will be available on a modified dual status basis, as explained in Public Notice CRTC 1996-120, which introduces this and the other decisions issued today, and in accordance with the provisions set out in the distribution and linkage public notice also issued today (Public Notice CRTC 1996-121). As proposed by the licensee, and by condition of licence, the authorized maximum monthly wholesale rate shall be $0.30 per subscriber in cases where LCN is distributed as part of the basic service.
The Commission will issue a licence expiring 31 August 2003. The licence will be subject to the conditions stipulated in the appendix to this decision and in the licence to be issued.
Since the Access Rules have immediate application to LCN, the service of the programming undertaking must, by condition of licence, be in operation within 12 months of this decision unless the service provider, prior to the expiry of this period, applies and receives an extension of time within which to commence operations.
LCN will be wholly owned by Télé-Métropole inc. (T-M), which is indirectly controlled by Mr. André Chagnon of Montréal through Groupe Vidéotron ltée (Vidéotron). T-M is the largest private French-language broadcaster in the country. It operates several television stations in Quebec, including CFTM-TV Montréal which is its flagship station, as well as the TVA network. CFTM-TV's signal is also available by satellite throughout Canada. For its part, with over a million subscribers, Vidéotron is the largest cable operator in Quebec and one of the largest in the country.
The Commission has concerns whenever a cable company participates in the ownership of a specialty programming service, as reflected in its Convergence Report of 19 May 1995.
In view of Vidéotron's participation in the ownership of LCN and Vidéotron's predominance in the cable distribution industry in Quebec, the issue of preferential treatment or access is of concern.
Consequently, the Commission attaches particular importance to the statement made by Vidéotron at the hearing to the effect that it plans to distribute all the French-language specialty services licensed in this proceeding. Moreover, the Commission expects the Quebec cable distribution undertakings owned by Vidéotron to distribute the other new French-language specialty services licensed in the decisions issued today on an equitable basis, on the same terms and conditions as the LCN service.
As discussed at the hearing, the Commission reminds the licensee that it would have to submit an application to amend its licence and obtain the Commission's authorization before the licensee could offer LCN's service outside the province of Quebec.
Nature of Service
The licensee's proposed service is a headline news service, updated every 15 minutes, which will include weather, sports and financial information as well as current events. LCN will focus its service on the whole of Quebec and its various regions, having access to news from the various
member stations of the TVA and Télévision Quatre Saisons networks. LCN will also have access to national news from the CTV network and its new English-language headline news specialty service (CTV N1), also licensed today, and to the sources of international news with which TVA has service agreements. Consistent with the application, by condition of licence, all LCN's programs shall be drawn exclusively from category 1 (News) and category 3 (Reporting and Actualities).
Canadian Content
T-M made a commitment to broadcast 100% Canadian content during the broadcast day and during the evening broadcast period. The applicant is required to adhere to this commitment by condition of licence.
Canadian Programming Expenditures
Relying, in particular, on the fact that all its spending would be devoted to the production of Canadian programming, T-M asked to be exempted from a condition of licence respecting Canadian programming expenditures. T-M pointed out, in this connection, that LCN's project represented an investment of more than $27 million in Canadian news programming over a seven-year period. In view of the nature of the service that will be provided by LCN and the requirement for 100% Canadian content noted above, the Commission considers that it is unnecessary to impose a condition of licence in respect of minimum expenditure requirements for Canadian programs. Nevertheless, the Commission expects the licensee to devote adequate resources to its programming initiatives, as outlined in its application. In this regard, the Commission notes the licensee's intention to maintain separate accounts for LCN from those of its other broadcasting undertakings.
Consistent with the licensee's plans, LCN may distribute a maximum of eight minutes of advertising material, plus a maximum of 30 seconds of unpaid public service announcements, in each clock hour of the broadcast day. Conditions of licence to this effect are set out in the appendix to this decision.
Other Matters
Closed Captioning
The Commission notes the licensee's commitment to distribute 3,500 hours of closed captioned programming for the deaf and hearing impaired during the first year of operation, which represents 40% of its original programming, and to increase this gradually to a level of 6,552 hours in the seventh year, which represents 75% of its original programming. In accordance with the policy announced in Public Notice CRTC 1996-120, the Commission expects the licensee to adhere to its commitments. The Commission also encourages the licensee to exceed these commitments over the licence term and to monitor the quality of the captions during exhibition.
Employment equity
In Public Notice CRTC 1992-59 dated 1 September 1992 and entitled "Implementation of an Employment Equity Policy", the Commission announced that the employment equity practices of broadcasters would be subject to examination by the Commission. In its application, the licensee indicated that T-M's policies and plans will be adopted in this regard. The Commission encourages the licensee to consider equity issues in its hiring practices and in all other aspects of its management of human resources. In particular, the Commission encourages the licensee to promote equitable representation in on-air staff positions and in voice-overs of station-produced commercial messages. The Commission will review the licensee's performance in implementing employment equity practices at the time of licence renewal.
The Commission is satisfied that LCN's service will offer attractive, high-quality programs that will contribute to the enrichment and diversity of the Canadian broadcasting system. In approving this application, the Commission considers that T-M's expertise and the resources available to it in gathering and processing news for the TVA network will ensure success.
The Commission has also taken into account the concerns raised in the interventions filed in this proceeding, in particular the opposing intervention submitted by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on behalf of Réseau de l'Information (RDI). The Commission is satisfied that, by reason of its content and format, LCN's service will have minimal impact on RDI's viewership and advertising revenues.
This decision is to be appended to the licence.
Allan J. Darling
Secretary General
Conditions of Licence for "Le Canal Nouvelles"
1. (a) The licensee shall provide a regional (Quebec), French-language specialty service and shall draw its programs exclusively from category 1 (News) and category 3 (Reporting and actualities) as set out in item 6 of Schedule I of the Specialty Services Regulations, 1990.
(b) The licensee shall maintain a "headline news" format as described in its application, presented in a continuously-updated fifteen minute wheel.
2. The licensee shall devote the entire broadcast year to the distribution of Canadian programs.
3. (a) Subject to subsection (b), the licensee shall not distribute more than eight (8) minutes of advertising material during each clock hour.
(b) In addition to the eight (8) minutes of advertising material referred to in subsection (a), the licensee may distribute, during each clock hour, a maximum of 30 seconds of additional advertising material that consists of unpaid public service announcements.
(c) The licensee shall not distribute any paid advertising material other than national paid advertising.
4. From the date of commencement of service, the licensee shall charge each exhibitor of this service a maximum wholesale rate of $0.30 per subscriber per month when distributed as part of the basic service.
5. This undertaking shall be in operation within twelve (12) months of the date of this decision, or, where the licensee applies to the Commission within this period and satisfies the Commission that it cannot complete implementation before the expiry of this period and that an extension is in the public interest, within such further period of time as is approved in writing by the Commission.
6. The licensee shall adhere to the guidelines on gender portrayal set out in the Canadian Association of Broadcasters' (CAB) "Sex-Role Portrayal Code for Television and Radio Programming", as amended from time to time and approved by the Commission.
7. The licensee shall adhere to the provisions of the "Broadcast Code for Advertising to Children", published by the CAB, as amended from time to time and approved by the Commission.
8. The licensee shall adhere to the guidelines on the depiction of violence in television programming set out in the CAB's "Voluntary Code Regarding Violence in Television Programming", as amended from time to time and approved by the Commission.
For the purpose of these conditions of licence, the terms "broadcast year" and "clock hour" shall have the same meanings as those set out in the Television Broadcasting Regulations, 1987; "first year of operation" shall mean the first broadcast year in which the licensee is in operation for a period exceeding 90 days, excluding any free trial period; and "national paid advertising" shall mean advertising material as defined under the Specialty Services Regulations, 1990 and that is purchased at a national rate and receives regional distribution on the service.

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