ARCHIVED -  Decision CRTC 96-774

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Ottawa, 4 December 1996
Decision CRTC 96-774
Trinity Television, Inc.
Toronto, Burlington and Hamilton, Ontario - 199601167
Proposed Over-the Air Television Station Devoted to Religious Programming - Denied
Following a Public Hearing in the National Capital Region beginning on 8 July 1996, the Commission denies the application by Trinity Television, Inc. (Trinity), for a broadcasting licence to carry on an English-language television programming undertaking at Toronto, operating on channel 52 with an effective radiated power of 59,000 watts, to broadcast religious programming from local studios and other Canadian sources as well as programming originating from foreign sources.
In a related decision issued today (Decision CRTC 96-773), the Commission has also denied an application by Crossroads Television Network (Crossroads), for a licence to carry on a new religious over-the air television programming undertaking at Hamilton. Today's decisions are accompanied by Public Notice CRTC 1996-152, in which the Commission reiterates its expectations regarding the provision of balance in religious programming, and provides further guidance for future applicants proposing to offer such services.
The Broadcasting Act (the Act), specifies that programming offered 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 generally expects that, in order to satisfy this requirement, licensees of over-the-air undertakings devoted to religious programming should, in particular, expose their audiences to different points of view on religion. The Commission generally takes the view that balance will be achieved where, within a reasonable period of time, a reasonably consistent viewer or listener is exposed to a spectrum of views on issues of public concern.
The Commission generally also expects an applicant to make appropriate commitments related to the provision of balanced programming and to provide evidence of its ability to meet its commitments. In Public Notice CRTC 1995-198 the Commission stated that applicants for broadcasting undertakings devoted to religious programming:
 ...must also be able to substantiate their proposals for achieving balance with concrete and viable plans for their implementation.
In its written application, Trinity proposed to adhere to a condition of licence requiring the provision of 22 hours 30 minutes per week of balance programming, including 9 hours 30 minutes to be broadcast in the evening broadcast period (6:00 p.m. to midnight). In addition, the commitment also included 2 hours 30 minutes of the prime-time balance programming to be produced by non-Christian faith groups.
While the applicant's plans included clear proposals for various types of programming intended to provide balance, only one written submission from a religious program producer was included in the Trinity application. The letter outlined in general terms the producer's past involvement with religious programming and expressed interest in producing similar programs for the new station. The letter did not, however, offer any firm commitment to produce any specific program.
The applicant indicated at the hearing that it had verbal commitments from other faith groups to provide balance programming. However, information as to the specific nature of the commitments given, and concrete evidence to substantiate the actual desire and intention of the faith groups in question to produce programming was not furnished.
The Commission notes its statement in Public Notice CRTC 1995-198 that:
 ... it would expect each applicant to demonstrate that the programming it proposes will adequately meet the needs of the community it serves. In some cases, in particular those communities with diverse populations, this may mean providing multi-faith programming.
As discussed in Public Notice CRTC 1996-152 which accompanies this decision, the Commission considers it essential that applications proposing to serve large urban centres include firm commitments for the participation of other faith groups in the production and provision of programming.
In its application, Trinity also provided copies of five letters which were sent to leaders of minority faith groups in the Toronto area, soliciting their participation in programming on the proposed station. The Commission notes, however, that no responses to those letters were included in the application. Given the large and diverse market to be served by the proposed station, the Commission considers that more substantial efforts to secure participation by minority faith groups could have been made. Given the lack of response to the letters, as well as the general lack of any firm commitment on the part of minority faith groups to provide programming, the Commission considers that the applicant has failed to demonstrate its ability to fulfill its commitments with respect to balance programming, and programming by other minority faith groups.
With respect to the applicant's plans for the process of monitoring the provision of balanced programming, Trinity outlined its plans for two separate content regulation committees, members of which would be appointed by the Board of Directors.
The Programming Control Group was to be made up of three senior members of the station personnel, and three representatives of local religious groups. This group would monitor the station's overall mix of programming, to ensure compliance with the applicant's programming policies.
The Regulatory Review Committee was to be an independent six-member group, with no affiliation to Trinity, with representation from three different faith groups in the Toronto area. The Committee would have the authority to monitor existing programming on a day-to-day basis and to enforce all programming policies as well as internal and industry guidelines related to fund-raising activities.
As noted in Public Notice CRTC 1996-152, the Commission expects applicants to submit documentation of commitments made by other faith groups, agreeing to be represented on monitoring groups such as those proposed by Trinity. No evidence of a firm commitment for such participation was offered. Given the diverse makeup of the population in the areas proposed to be served by the applicant, the Commission considers the applicant's efforts to ensure participation by other faith groups on the monitoring groups to be inadequate in this case.
In view of the foregoing, the Commission is not satisfied that the applicant has provided the necessary evidence that the proposals set out in its application would be implemented and consistently maintained. In addition, also as discussed above, the applicant's lack of firm plans for the representation and reflection of other faiths is not reassuring to the Commission in terms of the achievement of the very important balance requirement of the Act. For these reasons, the Commission denies this application.
The Commission acknowledges the many interventions submitted both in support of and in opposition to this application, as well as the applicant's responses thereto.
Allan J. Darling
Secretary General

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