ARCHIVED - Public Notice CRTC 2000-165

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Public Notice CRTC 2000-165


See also: 2000-165-1

Ottawa, 8 December 2000


Proposed review of the Commission's position regarding ownership of discretionary programming undertakings by cable broadcasting distribution undertakings


In its May 1995 Report to the Government (Competition and Culture on the Information Highway), the Commission stated that:


Until there is sufficient capacity on cable networks, and until transparent access rules are in place to prevent undue preference, cable licensees and their affiliates should generally not be granted licences to operate, nor should they be permitted to acquire ownership or control of programming undertakings other than over-the-air radio and television services.


In a number of decisions issued over the intervening five years, the Commission has expressed concern about the potential for undue preference in the analog distribution market, and has denied or placed restrictions on the equity interests held by cable distribution undertakings in discretionary programming undertakings. The decisions include the following:

  • Decision CRTC 98-226 Sportscope Television Network Ltd.;
  • Decision CRTC 98-487 CTV Sports Net Inc.;
  • Public Notice CRTC 1999-89, Decision CRTC 99-113 Licensing of new French language specialty television undertakings;
  • Decision CRTC 99-169  StarChoice / Cancom (ROBTv);
  • Decision CRTC 2000-217 Food Network Canada;
  • Decision CRTC 2000-222 Corus Entertainment Inc.


In Public Notice CRTC 2000-6, the Commission issued its Licensing framework policy for new digital pay and specialty services. In that document, the Commission acknowledged the key role that distributors could play in launching new digital services, and therefore announced that it would consider applications for such digital services involving ownership participation by disributors, including cable operators. As part of the licensing framework, the Commission established specific carriage terms for the new services, including measures to ensure equitable terms of carriage for services that are not affiliated with distributors.


Subsequently, on 10 November 2000, the Canadian Cable Television Association (CCTA) filed a request asking the Commission to review and amend its current position relating to the ownership by cable distribution undertakings, or their affiliates, of equity interests in discretionary programming undertakings distributed on an analog basis.


According to the CCTA, the broadcasting environment has significantly changed, so that it should no longer be necessary for the Commission to restrict cable distribution undertakings from holding or increasing their ownership interests in analog discretionary programming undertakings. In the CCTA's view, such changes include increasing competition, convergence in the communications sector, and the increasingly significant role played by companies having access to multiple distribution and exhibition platforms. The CCTA argues that these justify a revisitation by the Commission of its position on this matter.


The Commission notes the following CCTA proposal as one possible means of alleviating concerns about undue preference:


The CCTA is prepared to undertake, on behalf of its members, that none of its member companies that has an ownership interest (existing or future), either directly or through an affiliate, in a discretionary programming service that is distributed on an analog channel on any cable system owned and controlled by that company or any affiliate of it, will alter the terms of carriage of that service on analog in respect of channel placement or packaging without the prior approval of the Commission.


In the circumstances, the Commission considers that a review of its position on cable/discretionary service cross-ownership would be appropriate at this time. Accordingly, the Commission invites comments that address the matters raised in this notice. Without limiting the discussion of these matters, the Commission would appreciate receiving comments on the following questions:

  • What has changed in the broadcasting environment that would warrant revisitation by the Commission of its current position regarding cable distributor equity in analog discretionary programming services?
  • Considering the current and future broadcasting environment, what factors should be considered in assessing the continued potential for undue preference in respect of the analog distribution of discretionary programming services owned by cable licensees (i.e. addressing capacity and access issues)?
  • What safeguards would be sufficient to continue to protect the public interest, taking into account such matters as the interests of subscribers, the need for affordable rates, and the need for discretionary programming services to have fair and equitable access rights to analog distribution?
  • Should safeguards include a limit on the ownership of any one analog service by a cable licensee, or on the number of analog services owned by a cable licensee?
  • Are there other terms and conditions that could be included in a code of conduct to address concerns about preferential treatment in the distribution of discretionary programming services?

Call for comments


As a first phase, the Commission will accept comments that it receives on or before 26 January 2001.


This will be followed by a second written process to allow any party to file a reply to a comment filed with the Commission during the first phase. The Commission will accept all such replies that it receives on or before 26 February 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


Secretary General


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


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