ARCHIVED - Decision CRTC 2000-437

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Decision CRTC 2000-437


Ottawa, 8 November 2000


Access Cable Television Bedford/Sackville Limited
Access Communications Incorporated
Fundy Cable Ltd./Ltée
Kings Kable Ltd.
Prairie Co-ax TV Ltd.
Rogers Cable Inc.
Rogers Cablesystems Georgian Bay Limited
Rogers Cablesystems Ontario Limited
Rogers Ottawa Limited/Limitée
Shaw Cablesystems Company
Shaw Cablesystems (Sask.) Ltd.
Shaw Cablesystems (SMB) Ltd.
Videon Cablesystems Alberta Inc.
Videon Cable Systems Inc.


See appendix for locations and application numbers


Application processed by
Public Notice CRTC 2000-73
dated 31 May 2000


Carriage of Canadian and U.S. 4+1 signals on a digital basis


The Commission approves applications by the cable systems listed in the appendix to this decision to distribute the following services on a digital basis:


· any of the Canadian signals listed on the Commission's List of Part 3 eligible satellite services. This list includes a wide range of Canadian television stations.


· a second set of signals of stations affiliated to each of the four U.S. commercial networks and to the non-commercial PBS network (these systems currently carry a first set of such signals on an analog basis).


These signals may be offered only on a digital discretionary basis. The decision includes a provision designed to protect the program rights acquired by local broadcasters.


The application and its rationale


The applicants proposed to distribute the following services on a discretionary basis, as part of the offering of digital services that they provide:


· any Canadian signals listed on the List of Part 3 eligible satellite services. This list includes Canadian stations that can presently be distributed by Class 3 cable licensees.


· a second set of signals that provides the programming of the four U.S. commercial networks (CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX) and the non-commercial PBS network. These signals are generally referred to as the "U.S. 4 + 1 signals." The applicants already distribute a first set of U.S. 4+1 signals on an analog basis.


The Commission notes that two cable systems applied to carry only the U.S. 4+1 signals. These systems are the one operated by Rogers Cable Inc. serving Lion's Bay, Sunset Beach and Brunswick B.C., and the system operated by Rogers Ottawa Limited/Limitée that serves Carp, Ontario. These Class 3 systems are already permitted to carry signals listed on the List of Part 3 eligible satellite services.


The applicants considered that the presence of the signals set out in the applications would provide an incentive to customers to subscribe to their digital services. They further noted that direct-to-home (DTH) satellite services are currently permitted to distribute duplicate U.S. 4+1 signals on a discretionary basis, as well as any Canadian television service on either a discretionary basis or as part of the basic service. The Canadian Cable Television Association (CCTA) and The Miracle Channel submitted interventions supporting the applications.


Issues raised by the applications


The Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB), the Specialty and Premium Television Association (SPTV) and Bell ExpressVu provided interventions opposing the applications as filed. The concerns raised by the interveners and the applicants' replies are summarized below.


Protection of program rights


All three opposing interveners considered that the applicants had not made adequate commitments to protect the program rights acquired by local broadcasters. The CAB further considered that implementation of the applicants' proposals would seriously undermine the advertising revenues of local television stations, and impede the ability of such stations to meet their local programming commitments.


The CAB noted that, while DTH operators may carry duplicate U.S. 4+1 signals, they have concluded an agreement with the CAB that, among other things, requires them to receive duplicate U.S. signals from the same time zone as that of the distant Canadian signals that they distribute. This allows Canadian broadcasters to maximize opportunities to request simultaneous substitution. Simultaneous substitution occurs when a broadcasting distribution undertaking (BDU) such as a cable system inserts the signal of a local or regional Canadian television station on the channel of a more distant station showing programming that is largely or substantially the same, at the same time. For substitution to take place, the local or regional station has to make a request to the BDU in advance.


The CAB further noted that the applicants had not identified the specific Canadian signals that they would distribute, making it more difficult for local broadcasters to request simultaneous substitution.


Bell ExpressVu considered that rules protecting program rights should be the same for all distributors. It therefore recommended that each applicant be required to adhere to a regime similar to that set out in the Broadcasting Distribution Regulations (the regulations) for DTH operators, or to negotiate an agreement with the CAB that would take the place of such requirements. The regulations generally require DTH systems not only to perform simultaneous substitution but, in some cases, to delete programs from out-of-market stations even if they are not simultaneously broadcast when the rights for these programs are held by local broadcasters.


The applicants considered that current safeguards were sufficient to protect local broadcasters, and that there was no need to impose on cable licensees the same program deletion regime that governs DTH systems. They considered that the current obligations of cable systems, such as providing priority carriage for local broadcasters on the basic service and cable's current simultaneous substitution requirements, provide adequate protection for local broadcasters. The applicants further argued that, since the penetration rate for digital cable services will be modest in the short term, the impact of their proposals on program rights and advertising revenues of local stations would be limited.


Videon, however, made a further commitment. It indicated that it would be prepared to accept "an obligation, in lieu of deletion or substitution of a comparable and simultaneous non-Canadian programming service, to pay 25 cents per subscriber per month to the CAB or a "fund administrator" for each of its subscribers who takes the duplicate U.S. 4+1 signal package until such time that cost effective technology allows us to perform deletion or substitution."


Effect on digital capacity available to carry other services


Both the CAB and the SPTV were concerned that, should the applications be approved, the applicants would not have sufficient remaining digital capacity to carry new digital category 2 specialty services and French-language services in communities where French-speaking Canadians are a minority. The CAB further considered that duplicate carriage of U.S. 4+1 signals and distant Canadian signals would not increase the diversity of programming available to Canadians to the extent that carriage of new digital pay and specialty services that the Commission might license would.


The applicants indicated that they would carry all category 1 specialty services that the Commission might license. Rogers further indicated that, even if the applications were approved, it would still have the capacity to carry a significant number of category 2 services.


Distant signal policy


The CAB was concerned that the applications did not conform to the Commission's policy on the carriage of distant signals set out in Public Notice CRTC 1993-73. The policy requires, among other things, that applicants applying to carry distant signals provide letters from the broadcasters whose signals they intend to carry indicating that the broadcasters have no objection to being carried and would not solicit local advertising. The applicants have not provided such letters.


In reply, Rogers and Shaw stated that they did not consider that the distant signal policy was relevant in a digital environment - an environment that is based on the premise that customers may choose the services that are of interest to them.


The Commission's determination


The Commission agrees that discretionary carriage in a digital format of Canadian signals included on the List of Part 3 eligible satellite services and an additional set of U.S. 4+1 signals, coupled with other initiatives such as the carriage of new licensed Canadian digital services, may indeed serve as an incentive for cable customers to subscribe to the digital service offered by cable systems. It also provides an opportunity to increase the choice of signals available to cable subscribers.


The Commission, however, shares the concern that interveners have expressed about the need to protect the program rights that local broadcasters purchase. Carriage of a second set of U.S. 4+1 signals in addition to the first set carried on an analog basis, as well as a wide range of Canadian distant signals has the potential to erode these rights and impinge on the ability of local broadcasters to fulfil their programming obligations and responsibilities.


The Commission therefore approves the applications subject to the provision set out at the end of this decision. This provision, which will apply only to the discretionary distribution on a digital basis of the second set of U.S. 4+1 signals carried by the system and distant Canadian signals, imposes the same non-simultaneous program deletion rules as those that currently apply to DTH licensees. The provision further provides that it may be suspended should the Commission approve an agreement with the broadcasters that deals with issues related to the protection of program rights arising in connection with the carriage of a second set of U.S. 4+1 signals as well as Canadian distant signals as approved in this decision. The licensees are reminded that the rules on simultaneous substitution for the services that they distribute, as set out in section 30 of the regulations, continue to apply.


The Commission considers that, with this provision in place, it is not necessary to require the applicants to submit letters from the various Canadian television stations whose signals they propose to distribute, as provided under the Commission's policy on the carriage of distant signals. The distant signals policy will, however, continue to apply in its entirety in cases where cable licensees file applications to carry distant Canadian signals on an analog basis.


The Commission notes concerns expressed by interveners that carriage of a large number of distant signals in a digital format may limit the capacity available to carry other Canadian specialty services or French-language services. The Commission will address issues related to the carriage of services in a digital format when it completes its current process dealing with the provision of French-language broadcasting services to francophones outside Quebec. As a result of that proceding, the Commission may impose further requirements with respect to the distribution of French-language services. The Commission expects to rule on those issues in February 2001.


Carriage of additional French-language services, as well as any new specialty, pay-per-view, or video-on-demand services resulting from the 14 August 2000 public hearing, will also require the use of digital capacity. Accordingly distributors are expected to take into account future potential regulatory developments, as well as the risk of future disruption to subscribers in light of their existing and future capacity, when they choose to act on the authorities contained in this decision.


The Commission is today issuing Public Notice CRTC 2000-155 which sets out revised distribution and linkage rules. The revisions permit any Canadian television service that is included on the List of Part 3 eligible satellite services to be linked with a second set of U.S. 4+1 network signals that the licensee is authorized to distribute provided that these signals are distributed only on a discretionary digital basis.


Provision of approval


The distribution on a discretionary basis on the licensee's digital service of a second set of U.S. 4+1 signals (that is, a set of U.S. 4+1 signals in addition to the set of such signals already carried by the system) and Canadian distant signals is subject to the provision that, with respect to such signals, the licensee adhere to the requirements regarding non-simultaneous program deletion set out in section 43 of the Broadcasting Distribution Regulations. The Commission may suspend the application of this provision upon its approval of an executed agreement between the licensee and broadcasters. Such an agreement must deal with issues related to the protection of program rights arising in connection with the discretionary carriage of a second set of U.S. 4+1 signals and Canadian distant signals solely on the applicant's digital service, as approved in this decision.


"U.S. 4+1 signals" refers to the signals of stations affiliated with the four U.S. commercial networks (CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX) and the non-commercial PBS network.


"distant Canadian signals" refers to the signals of Canadian television programming undertakings included in Commission's List of Part 3 eligible satellite services.


Related CRTC documents


. Public Notice 2000-155 - Distribution and linkage rules


. Public Notice 2000-74 - Call for comments concerning Order in Council P.C. 2000-511 and Public Notice CRTC 2000-38


. Public Notice 2000-38- Increasing the availability of minority official language specialty services to cable subscribers across Canada - Call for comments on a proposed policy.


Secretary General


This decision is to be appended to the licences. It is available in alternative format upon request, and may also be examined at the following Internet site: 


Appendix to Decision CRTC 2000-437




Application no.


Access Cable Television Bedford/Sackville Limited

Bedford, Nova Scotia

200014639, 200014647


Access Communications Incorporated

Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

200014613, 200014621


Digby, Nova Scotia

200014655, 200014663


Sussex, New Brunswick

200014572, 200014580


Barrie, Ontario

200002775, 200003244


Bolton, Ontario

200002478, 200002486


Fundy Cable Ltd. / ltée

Bathurst, New Brunswick

200014598, 200014606


Campbellton, New Brunswick

200014374, 200014382


Chatham, New Brunswick

200014390, 200014408


Dalhousie, New Brunswick

200014291, 200014309


Edmundston, New Brunswick

200014316, 200014324


Fredericton, New Brunswick

200014332, 200014340


Grand Falls/Grand Sault, New Brunswick

200014358, 200014366


Kedgwick, New Brunswick

200014514, 200014522


McAdam, New Brunswick

200014530, 200014548


Moncton, New Brunswick

200014556, 200014564


Nackawic, New Brunswick

200014415, 200014423


Saint John, New Brunswick

200014473, 200014481


Shediac, New Brunswick

200014457, 200014465


St-Stephen, New Brunswick

200014499, 200014507


Woodstock, New Brunswick

200014431, 200014449


Kings Kable Limited

Kentville/New Minas,
Nova Scotia

200015330, 200015348


Prairie Co-Ax TV Ltd.

Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

200014176, 200014184


Swift Current, Saskatchewan

200014217, 200014225


Rogers Cable Inc.

Toronto (Part of) (Mississauga-Peel), Ontario

200004234, 200003947


Toronto (Part of)
(Downsview), Ontario

200004226, 200003939


Toronto (Part of)
(York), Ontario

200004242, 200003955


Oshawa, Pine Ridge, Bowmanville, Whitby and Hampton, Ontario

200004218, 200003921


Newmarket, Bradford, Holland Landing, etc., Ontario

200004300, 200004010


Kitchener, Stratford, Brantford, Paris, St. Mary's, Ontario

200004268, 200003971


London North, Ontario

200004250, 200003963


Strathroy, Ontario

200004292, 200004005


St. Thomas, Ontario

200004284, 200003997


Tillsonburg, Ontario

200004201, 200003913


Woodstock, Beachville and Ingersoll, Ontario

200004276, 200003989


Vancouver, British Columbia

200004367, 200004078


Coquitlam, Maple Ridge, Mission and Fraser, British Columbia

200004341, 200004052


Burnaby, British Columbia

200004359, 200004060



New Westminster, Surrey, Abbotsford and Matsqui, British Columbia

200004375, 200004086



White Rock, British Columbia

200004317, 200004028



North and West Vancouver, British Columbia

200004325, 200004036


Lion's Bay, Sunset Beach and/et Brunswick, British Columbia



Rogers Cablesystems Georgian Bay Limited

Collingwood, Ontario

200004409, 200004169


Midland, Penetanguishene, Ontario

200004391, 200004151


Owen Sound, Ontario

200004383, 200004143


Rogers Cablesystems Ontario Limited

Toronto (Part of), Etobicoke/Mississauga, Ontario

200004458, 200004102


Ajax, Ontario

200004440, 200004094


Guelph, Ontario

200004474, 200004127


London South, Ontario

200004466, 200004119


Agassiz, British Columbia

200004482, 200004135


Rogers Ottawa Limited/Limitée

Carp, Ontario



Ottawa East, Ontario

200004432, 200004193


Ottawa West, Ontario

200004424, 200004185


Shaw Cablesystems Company

Camp Borden, Ontario

200002767, 200003236


Erin, Ontario

200002816, 200003286


Keswick, Ontario

200002809, 200003278


Orangeville, Ontario

200002783, 200003252


Orillia, Ontario

200002791, 200003260


Pickering/Scarborough, Ontario

200002733, 200003195


Richmond Hill (Part of), Ontario

200002741, 200003203


Sault Ste-Marie, Ontario

200002824, 200003294


Thunder Bay, Ontario

200002832, 200003302


Toronto (Part of), Ontario

200002759, 200003210


Bruderheim, Alberta

200003161, 200003666


Calgary, Alberta

200003153, 200003658


Coleman, Alberta

200002908, 200003385


Edmonton, Alberta

200002840, 200003319


Fort McMurray, Alberta

200002858, 200003327


Hinton, Alberta

200002866, 200003335


Lethbridge, Alberta

200002874, 200003351


Red Deer, Alberta

200002882, 200003369


Redwater, Alberta

200002890, 200003377


Castlegar, British Columbia

200003054, 200003559


Chilliwack, British Columbia

200002923, 200003418


Courtenay, British Columbia

200002915, 200003393


Cranbrook, British Columbia

200003012, 200003517


Creston, British Columbia

200003020, 200003525


Dawson Creek, British Columbia

200003145, 200003640


Duncan, British Columbia

200002931, 200003426


Fort St. John, British Columbia

200003137, 200003632


Invermere, British Columbia

200003070, 200003575


Kamloops, British Columbia

200003096, 200003591


Kelowna, British Columbia

200003038, 200003533


Langford, British Columbia

200002981, 200003484


Merritt, British Columbia

200003088, 200003583


Nanaimo, British Columbia

200002949, 200003434


Nanoose Bay, British Columbia

200003007, 200003500


100 Mile House, British Columbia

200014233, 200014241


Parksville, British Columbia

200002999, 200003492


Penticton, British Columbia

200003046, 200003541


Port Alberni, British Columbia

200002957, 200003442


Prince George, British Columbia

200003104, 200003609


Quesnel, British Columbia

200003129, 200003624


Saanich, British Columbia

200002965, 200003450


Vernon, British Columbia

200003062, 200003567


Victoria, British Columbia

200002973, 200003468


Williams Lake, British Columbia

200003111, 200003616


Shaw Cablesystems (Sask.) Ltd.

Prince Albert, Saskatchewan

200014150, 200014168


Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

2000014192, 200014200


Shaw Cablesystems (SMB) Ltd.

Portage la Prairie, Manitoba

200014259, 200014267


Winnipeg, Manitoba

200014275, 200014283


Videon Cablesystems Alberta Inc.

Edmonton, Alberta



Edson, Alberta



Lloydminster, Alberta



Videon Cablesystems Inc.

Selkirk, Manitoba



Winnipeg, Manitoba



Atikokan, Ontario



Fort Frances, Ontario


Date modified: