ARCHIVED -  Public Notice CRTC 1997-33-2

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Public Notice

Ottawa, 11 December 1997
Public Notice CRTC 1997-33-2
1. For the reasons set out below, the Commission has decided to postpone the public hearing to consider new specialty and pay television services to no later than the first quarter of 1999.
2. Following the 1996 specialty services public hearing, the Commission announced that it did not intend to issue a call for further applications for new pay and specialty television programming services, but that it would consider applications on a case-by-case basis. After receiving a number of applications, the Commission issued Public Notice CRTC 1997-33, in which it announced that all applications proposing new pay and specialty services received and deemed complete before 30 September 1997 would be considered at a public hearing shortly thereafter. The Commission received 71 applications.
3. There are a number of issues the Commission must address prior to scheduling a public hearing to consider these new applications. These include: the current state of digital distribution technology; the emerging competitive distribution environment; and the evolving structure of the broadcasting industry.
4. In postponing this hearing, the Commission has also considered its recent announcement to hold a public hearing in the late summer of 1998 to review its approach to Canadian television programming and notes the importance of specialty services in providing such programming. In addition, it is unclear at this time to what extent and within what timeframe the cable industry will expand analog distribution capacity or begin introducing digital distribution technologies.
5. Some of the above-mentioned factors may affect the specialty applications currently on hand. Accordingly, the Commission has decided that amendments to applications already filed with the Commission will be allowed until 30 September 1998. Furthermore, any application proposing a specialty programming service, other than those applications currently filed and which have been accepted as complete, will not be considered by the Commission until after the proposed hearing.
6. The Commission hereby announces a moratorium, effective immediately, on the addition of any new foreign services to the lists of eligible satellite services. This moratorium shall remain in place until sometime after the public hearing is held to consider the applications for new Canadian specialty services filed pursuant to Public Notice CRTC 1997-33. The moratorium does not apply to any applications currently before the Commission.
7. In October 1997, many cable licensees began to distribute several new Canadian specialty services, using, in most cases, their existing analog channel capacity. The Commission is pleased to note that these included a number of services that were not licensed on the assumption that they would necessarily gain access to analog distribution at that time, but that were nonetheless able to negotiate such distribution with cable licensees.
8. The Commission encourages cable licensees to accelerate the distribution of licenced Canadian services to the public as more analog and/or digital capacity becomes available.
9. In order that the Commission may monitor the capacity of the distribution industry to accommodate new specialty services, it hereby requires the licensees of all Class 1 broadcasting distribution undertakings with 20,000 or more subscribers to submit a report to the Commission, no later than 31 January 1998, with information to 31 December 1997, updated and submitted every three months thereafter. The last report should be filed with the Commission by no later than 31 August 1999. The following information is requested for each such undertaking:
· analog channel capacity;
· complete channel line-up, indicating the specific channels used for the distribution of services and the specific services distributed thereon;
· description of proposed upgrades to the distribution system, the increase to analog channel capacity that would result, and the timeframe for implementation and utilization; and,
· description of plans and timeframes for the deployment of digital technology, the number of digital households served, progress towards implementation, and projected date for utlization by broadcasting and/or telecommunications services.
10. Licensees may request confidentiality for the information contained in their reports.
11. In a subsequent notice, the Commission will announce a hearing date and the procedures it will follow in considering the applications for new specialty and pay television services, taking into account all of the information available to it, as well as its objective of openness and fairness in the public process.
Laura M. Talbot-Allan
Secretary General
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