ARCHIVED - Decision CRTC 2001-540

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Decision CRTC 2001-540

Ottawa, 31 August 2001

Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd., on behalf of a company to be incorporated
Across Canada 2001-0410-0

Application processed by
Public Notice CRTC 2001-55
dated 25 May 2001

Amendment to the condition of licence pertaining to the nature of the service provided by the Raptors Basketball Channel


The Commission approves in part the application by Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd., on behalf of a company to be incorporated, for an amendment to the licence for the national, English-language Category 2 specialty television service known as the Raptors Basketball Channel. By condition of licence set out in Decision CRTC 2000-627 dated 14 December 2000, it is to provide a service:

.devoted to the Toronto Raptors and NBA basketball. Programming will include historical events, profiles of players, panel and call-in shows, classic basketball games, interviews with Raptor players, coaches and management, statistics, insights and analysis on the current basketball scene from a Raptors perspective, information as to the purchase of merchandise, tickets and collectibles, and a wide range of other topics related solely to the Raptors and NBA. In addition, there will be a small amount of programming related to general basketball matters, including leagues outside the NBA and basketball instruction.


Also by condition of licence, and consistent with the original application, the Commission further stipulated in Decision CRTC 2000-627 that the licensee "shall not provide any live coverage of professional basketball games."


The applicant is now requesting that its nature of service licence condition be amended to permit a maximum of 10% of the program schedule to be devoted to the broadcast of live basketball games. The Commission has decided to grant partial approval of this request by authorizing the applicant to devote a maximum of 5% of the program schedule to the broadcast of such programming.

Interventions and reply


The Commission received fourteen written interventions to this application. All but one supported approval of the application as filed. In its intervention, however, CTV Inc. proposed that live coverage of basketball games on the Raptors Basketball Channel be restricted to a maximum of 5% of the program schedule. Among other things, the intervener argued that restrictions on live event coverage by Category 2 sports specialty services should be equitable. It noted that 5% is the maximum amount of live event coverage that the Commission has, to date, authorized on other such services. It also suggested that the proposal ".could directly impact an already competitive market environment for live event NBA rights."


In responding to these comments, the applicant disputed CTV's claim about potential market impact. It argued that, whether the maximum amount of live event coverage was set at 5% or 10%, neither level ".would materially adversely affect the ability of third party broadcasters" to acquire rights to NBA or other live basketball games. It also noted that, of the six authorized Category 2 sports specialty services cited by CTV as being restricted to a maximum of 5% live event coverage, five focus on hockey. The applicant suggested that, if all five of these services were to launch this year, and were to carry the maximum number of live hockey games permitted by their licence conditions, the result would be an incremental increase in the amount of such programming well in excess of the increase in the amount of live basketball coverage that would result from approval of its application.

Commission's determination


The Commission has considered the applicant's arguments in support of its request. It has also considered the views of interveners on the matter. The limits that the Commission has placed on the amounts of specific types of programming that Category 2 specialty service licensees may broadcast, including the 5% limit on live sports programming, are for the purpose of ensuring that none of these services, individually, will compete directly with any specialty service licensed prior to 24 November 2000, or with any authorized Category 1 specialty service. The Commission notes, however, that competition among Category 2 specialty services is wholly consistent with its policy concerning such services. Fair competition among Category 2 services is best ensured by having restrictions on live event coverage that apply consistently. In the circumstances, the applicant has not demonstrated to the Commission's satisfaction that it should be permitted to provide a greater amount of live event coverage than other Category 2 sports specialty services.


Accordingly, the Commission is prepared to approve the application only in part. It therefore deletes paragraph c) of the condition of licence set out in Decision CRTC 2000-627 pertaining to the nature of service, and replaces it with the following:

c) The licensee may broadcast live basketball games representing up to a maximum of 5% of its program schedule.

Secretary General

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

Date Modified: 2001-08-31

Date modified: