ARCHIVED - Public Notice CRTC 2000-162

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Public Notice CRTC 2000-162


See also: 2000-162-1

Ottawa, 7 December 2000


Proposed exemption order for small cable systems


The Commission invites comments on a proposed exemption order that would exempt from licensing requirements any system that provides cable service to fewer than 2,000 subscribers and serves communities with populations of less than 10,000. Such cable systems are already regulated in a light manner. One issue concerns how to ensure the distribution of an adequate number of programming services in the official language used by a minority of people in the community that a cable system serves. As a result, the comments filed as part of the proceeding related to the provision of French-language services, initiated in Public Notices CRTC 2000-38 and 2000-74, as well as transcripts from the related public hearing will be placed on the public file for the proceeding that is being initiated by this notice.


Information about how to submit a comment is provided at the end of the notice.


This notice is one of three that the Commission is issuing today relating to its regulation of cable distribution undertakings. In Public Notice CRTC 2000-164 Review of certain aspects of the regulation of cable undertakings, the Commission calls for comments on its approach to licensing and regulating cable systems. In Public Notice CRTC 2000-163 Licensing cable undertakings - a regional approach, the Commission calls for comments on issues related to licensing cable systems on a regional basis. The Commission's goal is to adopt a regulatory framework that meets the public policy goals set out in the Broadcasting Act (the Act) while reducing the administrative burden on licensees and on itself.


Under the the Act, the Commission has the power to exempt certain classes of broadcasting undertakings. Section 9(4) of the Act states:


The Commission shall, by order, on such terms and conditions as it deems appropriate, exempt persons who carry on broadcasting undertakings of any class specified in the order from any or all of the requirements of this Part or of a regulation made under this Part where the Commission is satisfied that compliance with those requirements will not contribute in a material manner to the implementation of the broadcasting policy set out in subsection 3(1).


The Commission also notes that section 5(2)(g) of the Act provides that "the Canadian broadcasting system should be regulated and supervised in a flexible manner...that is sensitive to the administrative burden that, as a consequence of such regulation and supervision, may be imposed on persons carrying on broadcasting undertakings."


In Public Notice CRTC 2000-164 issued today, the Commission discusses proposals put forward by the Canadian Cable Television Association (CCTA) and the Canadian Cable Systems Alliance (CCSA) that would streamline the Commission's regulation of smaller cable systems. As part of their proposals, both the CCTA and the CCSA suggested that the Commission develop exemption orders that would apply to cable distribution undertakings of various sizes.


Regardless of the determinations that the Commission may make with respect to the proceeding initiated by PN 2000-164 Review of certain aspects of the regulation of cable undertakings it considers that, as a first step, it would be appropriate to exempt persons operating cable systems that have fewer than 2,000 total subscribers (all systems and licences included) and serve smaller communities with populations under 10,000. Such systems generally have few employees and limited resources, and are therefore the most affected by the administrative burden of dealing with the Commission. This proposal would affect approximately 450 licences held by more than 330 separate licensees. This represents 22% of all licences but less than 2% of all subscribers.


Most of these systems are already regulated in a light manner, and the Commission is of the preliminary view that the objectives of the Act could be met through the proposed exemption order. In addition, cable systems in rural areas will be able to focus their energies on responding to increasing competition from both direct-to-home (DTH) and multi-point distribution systems (MDS), and on providing their customers with better and more diverse communications services.


The proposed exemption order, set out in the appendix to this public notice, would maintain current requirements with respect to carriage of Canadian signals, while removing the administrative burden required to deal with certain regulatory matters.


The Commission is currently conducting a proceeding related to the availability of French-language broadcasting services in French linguistic minority communities in Canada. In Public Notice CRTC 2000-38, the Commission called for comments on a proposed policy intended to increase the availability of minority official language specialty services for cable subscribers in the new digital environment. In Public Notice CRTC 2000-74, the Commission sought public input for a report to the Governor in Council on measures to encourage and facilitate the provision of and access to the widest range of French-language services in French linguistic minority communities in Canada.


During this proceeding, the Commission received comments from some participants requesting that its proposed policy intended to increase the availability of minority official language specialty services apply to all classes of cable undertakings. Comments received in response to PN 2000-38 and PN 2000-74 as well as the transcript of the related public hearing have been placed on the public file for the proceeding initiated by this notice.


Another concern that may arise through use of an exemption order relates to customer service and service standards. The Commission wants to ensure that customers in small communities are not at a disadvantage compared to those in areas served by licensed systems. A possible solution would be to include in the exemption order a stipulation that an undertaking may be exempt from licensing requirements as long as it remains a member in good standing of an organization such as the Cable Television Standards Council (CTSC). This organization could then act as an ombudsman in cases involving customer complaints.


Therefore, the Commission seeks comment on the proposed exemption order, as well as the following question:


· Should membership in the CTSC or a similar industry organization be one of the requirements for exemption?


In PN 2000-164, the Commission poses a number of questions relating to proposals by the CCTA and the CCSA to issue exemption orders for other types of cable undertakings.


Call for comments


The Commission invites comments that address the issues and questions set out in this notice. The Commission will accept comments that it receives on or before 16 January 2001.


The Commission will not formally acknowledge comments. It will, however, fully consider all comments and they will form part of the public record of the proceeding, provided that the procedures for filing set out below have been followed.


Procedures for filing comments


Interested parties can file their comments on paper or electronically. Submissions longer than five pages should include a summary.


Parties wishing to file their comments on paper should send them to the Secretary General, CRTC, Ottawa, K1A 0N2.


Parties wishing to file electronic versions of their comments can do so by email or on diskette. The Commission email address is 


Electronic submissions should be in the HTML format. As an alternative, those making submissions may use "Microsoft Word" for text and "Microsoft Excel" for spreadsheets.


Please number each paragraph of your submission. In addition, please enter the line ***End of document*** following the last paragraph. This will help the Commission verify that the document has not been damaged during transmission.


The Commission will make comments filed in electronic form available on its web site at in the official language and format in which they are submitted. This will make it easier for members of the public to consult the documents.


The Commission also encourages interested parties to monitor the public examination file (and/or the Commission's web site) for additional information that they may find useful when preparing their comments.


Examination of public comments and related documents at the following Commission offices during normal business hours


Central Building
Les Terrasses de la Chaudière
1 Promenade du Portage, Room G-5
Hull, Quebec K1A 0N2
Tel: (819) 997-2429 - TDD: 994-0423
Fax: (819) 994-0218


Bank of Commerce Building
1809 Barrington Street
Suite 1007
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3J 3K8
Tel: (902) 426-7997 - TDD: 426-6997
Fax: (902) 426-2721


405 de Maisonneuve Blvd. East
2nd Floor, Suite B2300
Montréal, Quebec H2L 4J5
Tel: (514) 283-6607 - TDD: 283-8316
Fax: (514) 283-3689


55 St. Clair Avenue East
Suite 624
Toronto, Ontario M4T 1M2
Tel: (416) 952-9096
Fax: (416) 954-6343


Kensington Building
275 Portage Avenue
Suite 1810
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 2B3
Tel: (204) 983-6306 - TDD: 983-8274
Fax: (204) 983-6317


Cornwall Professional Building
2125 - 11th Avenue
Room 103
Regina, Saskatchewan S4P 3X3
Tel: (306) 780-3422
Fax: (306) 780-3319


10405 Jasper Avenue
Suite 520
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 3N4
Tel: (780) 495-3224
Fax: (780) 495-3214


530-580 Hornby Street
Vancouver, British Columbia V6C 3B6
Tel: (604) 666-2111 - TDD: 666-0778
Fax: (604) 666-8322


Related CRTC Documents

  • Public Notice CRTC 2000-164 - Review of certain aspects of the regulatory of system for cable undertakings
  • Public Notice CRTC 2000-163 - Licensing cable undertakings - a regional approach


Secretary General


This document is available in alternate format upon request and may also be examined at the following Internet site:


Proposed exemption order


Exemption order respecting distribution undertakings


The Commission, pursuant to subsection 9(4) of the Broadcasting Act, by this order, exempts from the requirements of Part II of the Act and any regulations, those persons carrying on broadcasting undertakings of the class defined by the following criteria:




These distribution undertakings serve small and rural communities with a population less than 10,000 and are operated by persons that, in total, serve less than 2,000 subscribers.




1. The Commission would not be prohibited from licensing the undertaking by virtue of any direction to the Commission by the Governor in Council.


2. In total, the number of subscribers included in all systems served by the company that owns the undertaking, whether directly or indirectly, is less than 2,000 and no city, town or municipality, encompassed in whole or in part within the service area of the undertaking has a population of more than 10,000.


3. All signals of local Canadian television stations and all services of regional television stations, other than affiliates or members of a network of which a local television station is an affiliate or member, are distributed over the undertaking, in each case with no degradation of received signal. In addition, the undertaking shall distribute the programming services referred to above beginning with the "basic band" (as defined in the Broadcasting Distribution Regulations)of its undertaking.


"Signals of local Canadian television stations" means the signals of all television broadcasting stations licensed by the Commission having Grade A "official contours" (as defined in the Broadcasting Distribution Regulations, as amended) enclosing the area in which the undertaking in question is carried on.


"Signals of regional television stations" means the signals of all television broadcasting stations licensed by the Commission having Grade B "official contours" (as defined in the Broadcasting Distribution Regulations, as amended) enclosing the area in which the undertaking in question is carried on.


4. No service received over-the-air or by satellite or microwave or by optical fibre transmission is distributed over the undertaking, other than a service that the Commission by regulation, or otherwise has authorised.


5.1 A majority of the video channels and a majority of the audio channels received by a subscriber are devoted to the distribution of Canadian programming services.


5.2 For the purpose of this section, each pay television service, television pay-per-view service, and video-on-demand service shall be counted as a single video channel.


5.3 This section does not apply to a cable distribution undertaking that distributes programming services only on the basic band.


Note: In paragraph 10 of the accompanying public notice, the Commission notes a question that may affect the final text of the exemption order.

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