ARCHIVED -  Decision CRTC 99-87

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Decision CRTC 99-87

Ottawa, 19 April 1999
Bell Satellite Services Inc.
Across Canada – 199805801
26 March 1999 Public Hearing
National Capital Region
New national satellite relay distribution undertaking
1. The Commission approves the application by Bell Satellite Services Inc. (BSSI), doing business under the name Bell ExpressVu, for a broadcasting licence to carry on a national satellite relay distribution undertaking (SRDU).
2. The Commission will issue a licence to BSSI expiring 31 August 2005, subject to the conditions specified in this decision, and in the licence to be issued.
3. BSSI is controlled by BCE Inc., parent company of Bell Canada. The applicant is also the licensee of a national direct-to-home (DTH) undertaking known as Bell ExpressVu and of a national DTH pay-per-view undertaking (Decision CRTC 99-88 of today's date).
4. On 23 June 1998, the Commission announced a policy framework for the introduction of competition in the SRDU industry (Public Notice CRTC 1998-60 dated 23 June 1998). Prior to that date, Canadian Satellite Communications Inc. (Cancom) had been the only distributor via satellite of television services to terrestrial broadcasting distribution undertakings (BDUs). The Commission’s policy for the SRDU industry is to promote competition so as to ensure that the broadest possible choice of services is available to BDUs at reasonable prices.
5. In related decisions also issued on 23 June 1998, the Commission granted an SRDU licence to Star Choice Television Network Inc. (Star Choice) and renewed the licence for Cancom. The Commission considered that two-year licence terms for both Star Choice and Cancom were warranted in view of the uncertainty concerning the future ownership structure within the Canadian SRDU industry and the extent of the competition that would exist in that industry in the future. The licensing of BSSI responds in some measure to any concern regarding continued competition in the industry. The Commission therefore considers it appropriate to give BSSI the maximum licence term permitted under the Broadcasting Act (the Act), given the Commission's practice to set a 31 August expiry date.
Terms and conditions of licence
Distribution of services
6. BSSI proposed to distribute services from the list of Canadian and non-Canadian programming services set out in the Appendix to this decision. The signals include various Canadian television and radio services as well as non-Canadian television services from across the U.S.
7. Consistent with the Commission’s SRDU policy framework, BSSI is authorized, by condition of licence, to distribute via satellite to its affiliates, the signals of any of the services listed in the Appendix to this decision, subject to the following requirements:

a) the licensee shall ensure that a majority of the television signals it distributes are Canadian services, and

b) the licensee shall distribute the signals of all conventional, Canadian, French-language television services that purchase national program rights. These services exclude the French-language television network service of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), which is already generally available to BDUs via satellite.

For the purpose of this condition, non-Canadian services of the same affiliation will be counted as a single service.
8. The Commission notes that the signals that BSSI is authorized to distribute by condition of licence also appear in the List of Part 2 Eligible Satellite Services and/or the List of Part 3 Eligible Satellite Services, as appropriate (Public Notice CRTC 1999-65 dated 19 April 1999).Class 1 and Class 2 licensees are reminded that, in accordance with the distribution and linkage requirements for Class 1 and Class 2 licensees (Public Notice CRTC 1997-151 dated 22 December 1997), a condition of licence is required in order to distribute these signals as part of the basic service.
9. BSSI stated that it will seek affiliation agreements with Canadian pay and specialty television services and U.S. specialty services, in order to allow it to provide distribution undertakings with a full range of Canadian and authorized U.S. services.
10. BSSI also indicated that, in the future, it would add local signals in the following order of priority: Halifax, St. John’s, Québec, Regina, Sherbrooke, Kitchener, London and some U.S. cities. The addition of these services would be dependent on the availability of additional satellite capacity. In this regard, BSSI should note that prior Commission approval will be required to add any programming services to the lists of services authorized in the appendix to this decision.
11. By condition of licence, the licensee must provide its service to all of the following undertakings whose operators are willing to enter into affiliation agreements with it:

i) terrestrial BDUs that are licensed by the Commission or that are operating in accordance with an exemption order issued by the Commission; and,

ii) licensed DTH distribution undertakings (for retransmission to DTH subscribers only).

12. It is a condition of licence that the licensee shall not delete, curtail or alter the programming services which it distributes to BDUs in any manner from the form in which they are transmitted for public reception by the originating broadcasters, except such alterations as are incidental to the transmission of the services using digital video compression technology and except as may be authorized or required by the Commission in writing.
Rate regulation
13. As discussed in Public Notice 1998-60, the Commission determined that regulation of the rates charged by SRDUs was not appropriate. In that notice, the Commission also indicated that it was prepared to reconsider its decision not to regulate the rates charged by SRDUs, depending upon how competition developed in the Canadian SRDU industry.
Contribution to Canadian programming
14. Consistent with the Commission’s policy framework, all Canadian SRDUs are required to contribute a minimum of 5% of the annual gross revenues derived from their regulated SRDU activities to the creation and presentation of Canadian programming.
15. This is the same level of contribution that the Broadcasting Distribution Regulations require of all BDUs, with the exception of Class 3 terrestrial distributors. It is also equivalent to the amount that Cancom and Star Choice are required to contribute to Canadian programming on an annual basis.
16. Accordingly, the Commission requires BSSI, by condition of licence, to contribute a minimum of 5% of its annual gross revenues derived from regulated SRDU activities to the creation and presentation of Canadian programming.
17. BSSI is also required, by condition of licence, to file a report for the Commission's approval, within one month of the date of this decision, identifying the recipient(s) of its contributions to the creation and presentation of Canadian programming, as well as the projected annual amounts that BSSI intends to allocate to each and the timing of such contributions, if the contribution is to a recipient other than a production fund. Contributions directed to a production fund are required to be made on a monthly basis, the first payment to be made within 45 days of the end of the month in which BSSI commences operation and, thereafter, within 45 days of each month's end. As a matter of policy applicable to any licensed SRDU, the Commission has decided that funds allocated to subsidize the provision of decoder equipment to BDUs are not eligible contributions.
Undue preference and dispute resolution
18. With respect to undue preference or disadvantage, the Commission reaffirms the views expressed in Public Notice CRTC 1997-150 dated 22 December 1997 entitled Broadcasting Distribution Regulations and in Public Notice 1998-60.
19. Accordingly, the licensee, by condition of licence, shall not give an undue preference to any person, including itself, or subject any person to an undue disadvantage.
20. It is a condition of licence that, if there is a dispute between the licensee and a distribution undertaking, whether operating by licence or by exemption order, concerning the terms under which programming services are or may be provided, then the licensee shall submit to a dispute resolution process, if the Commission so requires.
21. It is a condition of licence that the licensee adhere to the provisions of section 4 of the Broadcasting Distribution Regulations, in respect of any transfers of ownership or control.
22. As stated in Public Notice 1998-60, the Commission has decided not to require the filing of affiliation agreements. It may however require that such agreements be filed, on a case by case basis. The Commission may, on request, grant confidentiality concerning all or part of such agreements that it requires be filed in relation to a specific complaint.
23. The licence will only be issued and effective when the undertaking is ready to begin operation. When the licensee has completed construction and is prepared to commence operation, it must advise the Commission in writing. If the undertaking is not constructed and ready to operate within 12 months of today’s date, extensions to this time frame may be granted provided that the licensee applies in writing to the Commission before the 12-month period or any extension of that period expires.
Employment equity
24. The Commission notes that this licensee is subject to the Employment Equity Act that came into effect on 24 October 1996 (1996 EEA), and therefore files reports concerning employment equity with Human Resources Development Canada. As a result of a consequential amendment to the Act, the Commission no longer has the authority to apply its employment equity policy to any undertaking that is subject to the 1996 EEA.
25. The Commission acknowledges the interventions submitted with respect to the BSSI application and has taken into consideration the comments contained therein and in BSSI’s reply.
Secretary General
This decision is to be appended to the licence. It is available in alternative format upon request, and may also be viewed at the following Internet site:

Appendix to Decision CRTC 99-87

Signals authorized for distribution by Bell Satellite Services Inc./

Canadian television services;

CBRT (CBC) Calgary
CBHT (CBC) Halifax
CFJC-TV (CBC) Kamloops
CBMT (CBC) Montréal
CHEX-TV (CBC) Peterborough
CBKT (CBC) Regina
CBLT (CBC) Toronto
CBUT (CBC) Vancouver
CBWT (CBC) Winnipeg
CFCN-TV (CTV) Calgary
CFRN-TV (CTV) Edmonton
CJCH-TV (CTV) Halifax
CKCO-TV (CTV) Kitchener
CFCF-TV (CTV) Montréal
CKCK-TV (CTV) Regina
CJON-TV (CTV) St. John's
CKCW (CTV) Saint John
CFTO-TV (CTV) Toronto
CHAN-TV (CTV) Vancouver
CHEX-TV (CTV) Victoria
CKY-TV (CTV) Winnipeg
CIFH-TV (Global) Halifax
CKMI-TV-1 (Global) Montréal
CFRE-TV (Global) Regina
CIII-TV (Global) Toronto
CKND-TV (Global) Winnipeg

U.S. television services 

WHDH-TV (NBC) Boston, Massachusetts
WGBH-TV (PBS) Boston, Massachusetts
WXYZ-TV (ABC) Detroit, Michigan
WDIV (NBC) Detroit, Michigan
WUHF (FOX) Rochester, New York
WUTV (FOX) Buffalo, New York
WTOL-TV (CBS) Toledo, Ohio
WUAB-TV (IND) Cleveland, Ohio
WJET-TV (ABC) Erie, Pennsylvania
WSEE-TV (CBS) Erie, Pennsylvania
WICU-TV (NBC) Erie, Pennsylvania

Canadian radio services

CIQB-FM Barrie
CHAY-FM Barrie
CFJB-FM Barrie
CHFM-FM Calgary
CHQR Calgary
CJAY-FM Calgary
CKIK-FM Calgary
CFFR Calgary
CHED Edmonton
CIRK-FM Edmonton
CISN-FM Edmonton
CFBR-FM Edmonton
CHQT Edmonton
CFRQ-FM Halifax
CIOO-FM Halifax
CFDR Halifax
CJCH Halifax
CKOC Hamilton
CJXY-FM Hamilton
CKLH-FM Hamilton
CKGL Kitchener
CFPL-FM London
CJBK London
CJBX-FM London
CJAD Montréal
CKMF-FM Montréal
CHOM-FM Montréal
CIQC Montréal
CITE-FM Montréal
CFGL-FM Montréal
CKPT Peterborough
CKQM-FM Peterborough
CKRU Peterborough
CKWF-FM Peterborough
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