ARCHIVED -  Decision CRTC 96-779

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Ottawa, 5 December 1996
Decision CRTC 96-779
Southmount Cable Limited
Part of Hamilton, and Part of the Township of Glanbrook, Ontario - 951113000
Licence renewal
Following Public Notice CRTC 1996-46 dated 27 March 1996 and Decision CRTC 96-589 dated 30 August 1996, the Commission renews the Class 1 licence held by Southmount Cable Limited (Southmount), for the cable distribution undertaking serving the above-noted communities, from 1 January 1997 to 31 August 2003.
The operation of this undertaking is regulated pursuant to Parts I, II and IV of the Cable Television Regulations, 1986 (the regulations) and the licence will be subject to the conditions in effect under the current licence, as well as to those conditions specified in this decision and in the licence to be issued.
Consistent with Decision CRTC 91-708 dated 4 September 1991, the licensee is authorized to continue to distribute, pursuant to paragraph 10(1)(l) of the regulations, the programming services of WIVB-TV (CBS) and WKBW-TV (ABC), Buffalo, New York, received over the air, as part of the basic service. The Commission notes that the licensee has been distributing these duplicate U.S. signals on its system for many years.
Consistent with Decision CRTC 92-456 dated 9 July 1992, by condition of licence, the licensee is authorized to continue to distribute, pursuant to paragraph 10(1)(l) of the regulations, the programming service of WNEQ-TV (PBS) Buffalo, New York, received over the air, so long as it does not distribute the signal of WQLN (PBS) Erie, Pennsylvania.
Consistent with Decision CRTC 91-708 dated 4 September 1991, the licensee is relieved, by condition of licence, of the requirement of section 12 of the regulations to distribute the signals of CBLT Toronto, and CKCO-TV Kitchener on unrestricted channels. Should the quality of the signals deteriorate significantly, the Commission expects the licensee to undertake immediate corrective action including, if necessary, the distribution of these services on other channels.
Consistent with Decision CRTC 95-922 dated 21 December 1995, the licensee is authorized, by condition of licence, to insert, at its option, certain promotional material as a substitute for the "local availabilities" (i.e. non-Canadian advertising material) of non-Canadian satellite services. At least 75% of these local availabilities must be made available for use by licensed Canadian programming services for the promotion of their respective services, for the promotion of the community channel and for unpaid Canadian public service announcements. A maximum of 25% of the local availabilities may be made available for the promotion of discretionary programming services and packages, customer service information, channel realignments, cable FM service and additional cable outlets.
Consistent with Decision CRTC 95-920 dated 21 December 1995, the licensee is authorized to originate a video games service as a special programming service, offered on a discretionary basis, subject to the conditions listed in that decision.
The Commission reaffirms the particular importance it attaches to the development of community programming and has taken note of the annual budgets that will be allocated for this purpose during the new licence term. The Commission encourages the licensee to continue its efforts to develop programs that reflect community interests and concerns.
In Public Notice CRTC 1992-59 dated 1 September 1992 and entitled "Imple-mentation of an Employment Equity Policy", the Commission announced that the employment equity practices of broadcasters would be subject to examination by the Commission. In this regard, the Commission encourages the licensee to consider employment equity issues in its hiring practices and in all other aspects of its management of human resources.
The Commission acknowledges the interventions received from Canadian Specialty service licensees: CHUM Limited, licensee of Bravo!, Showcase Television Inc., licensee of Showcase, Your Channel Television Inc., licensee of Life Network and Lifestyle Television (1994) Limited, licensee of the programming service WTN. These specialty licensees, while not opposing the renewal of the licence wished to address the fact that the licensee is not presently distributing their respective services. These interveners requested that the licensee be required, by condition of
licence, to carry their respective service on a high penetration discretionary tier and that the services be launched by a specific date.
In its reply, Southmount indicated that it is prepared to grant access to these specialty services, but that it "in no way would consider carriage on the system until such time as the contractual arrangements have been reached."
In Public Notice CRTC 1996-60 entitled "Access Rules for Broadcasting Distribution Undertakings", the Commission determined that "a broadcasting distribution undertaking to which the access rules apply should distribute, as a general rule, the services of all licensed specialty and pay television undertakings appropriate for its market, to the extent of available channel capacity."
In this particular case, Southmount has not raised lack of channel capacity as an issue. Therefore, Southmount is required to make available channels for the distribution of the programming services of the above-noted licensees on a discretionary basis or, with the agreement of the service provider, as part of the basic service.
At the same time, the Commission notes that the access rules do not guarantee that a given service will necessarily be distributed on a particular tier. Accordingly, the Commission is not prepared to impose a condition of licence requiring Southmount to carry the services of the respective specialty licensees on a specific tier, nor that their services be launched by a specific date.
The Commission expects that Southmount will negotiate, within a reasonable time period, appropriate carriage arrangements with each specialty service. The Commission notes, however, that even when a dispute over certain terms of carriage exists but the licensee of a specialty service agrees to distribution, a cable licensee cannot rely on the absence of a signed contractual agreement to deny access. The Commission reminds Southmount that such matters may be dealt with under the dispute resolution procedures set out in Public Notice CRTC 1996-60.
In this regard, the Commission notes its statement, in Public Notice CRTC 1996-60, that "in general (emphasis added), it will not be disposed to entertain dispute resolution applications that deal with matters such as channel placement and the packaging and marketing of programming services" as "these issues are essentially of a commercial nature and are best addressed without regulatory intervention".
This decision is to be appended to the licence.
Allan J. Darling
Secretary General

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