ARCHIVED - Public Notice CRTC 2001-58

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Public Notice CRTC 2001-58


See also: 2001-58-1

Ottawa, 25 May 2001


Digital migration issues - Reconvening of working group regarding large cable systems, and; Call for comments regarding small cable systems


This notice announces the Commission's intention that the Digital Migration Working Group reconvene, following the launch of the new digital specialty services, to resolve outstanding migration issues affecting large cable systems. In this notice, the Commission also calls for comments on various questions concerning digital migration issues, as they relate to small cable systems.


The digital migration report


In Establishment of an industry working group to examine the digital distribution of existing pay and specialty services, Public Notice CRTC 2000-113, 4 August 2000, the Commission initiated a process to design a regulatory framework that would facilitate the transition of existing pay and specialty services from their current distribution on an analog basis to distribution in digital form. Specifically, the Commission requested, as a first step, that providers of existing pay and specialty services join with distributors who continue to use analog technology to develop and submit to the Commission a proposal that would address the distribution of existing analog services in a digital environment.


The Digital Migration Working Group was formed in response to PN 2000-113. It included representatives of the Canadian Cable Television Association (CCTA), the Canadian Cable Systems Alliance (CCSA) and the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB). It also included representatives of the Specialty and Premium Television Association (SPTV, now amalgamated with the CAB). To ensure that the views of consumers were taken into account, a representative of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) joined the Working Group and furnished input on behalf of PIAC and Action Réseau Consommateurs.


The report of the Digital Migration Working Group, entitled The Distribution of Existing Analog Pay and Specialty Services on a Digital Basis (the migration report),was filedon 2 February 2001. The migration report addresses two possible scenarios for the migration of existing pay and specialty programming services from analog to digital cable distribution:


· migration: complete migration of a service from analog to digital distribution, i.e. the service would cease to be available as an analog cable service.


· duplication: the service would remain available as an analog cable service, and would also be available as a digital cable service on a stand-alone basis and/or in a package.


Issues pertaining to large cable systems and smaller systems are addressed separately in the migration report, as the parties were of the view that the circumstances under which smaller cable systems operate are significantly different.


A major point of contention identified in the migration report is whether or not the express consent of programmers should be required for distributors to duplicate existing pay and specialty services. In order to clarify the terms on which digital tiers will be launched in the near future, the Commission considers it appropriate to establish an interim approach with regard to the question of consent. Pending final resolution of this issue (as discussed below), the Commission considers that, as a matter of broadcasting policy, the duplicate distribution of existing analog services on digital tiers must have the prior consent of the programmer. Such consent could take the form of (a) explicit terms relating to digital carriage in existing (or renegotiated) affiliation agreements, or (b) a separate agreement or consent relating solely to digital carriage.


Issues regarding large cable systems - Digital Migration Working Group to reconvene


The migration report sets out the view of large cable operators that the migration of existing analog specialty services to digital-only distribution is highly unlikely in the foreseeable future. Accordingly, the working group concluded that it is unnecessary to establish a detailed regulatory framework for the migration to digital of existing trapped analog specialty services on large cable systems at this time. Rather, the working group focused on issues related to the duplication of existing trapped analog pay and specialty services on a digital basis, but reported that there was little consensus on these issues. The CCTA and the CAB/SPTV, however, identified the key principles that each believe to be of critical importance.


The Commission considers that, through the Digital Migration Working Group, as well as the Digital Code Working Group (see Public Notice CRTC 2001-57 of today's date), the industry has made considerable progress in addressing issues related to the distribution of digital services. While participants in these Working Groups have not been able to arrive at a consensus on all issues, they have managed to reach agreement on many points and to establish areas where they can co-operate. Where they have not been able to agree, they have clarified or narrowed the outstanding issues.


In light of the progress made, the Commission considers that the Digital Migration Working Group should reconvene this fall, after the initial launch of the new Category 1 and 2 digital services, to consider the resolution of outstanding migration issues as they pertain to the larger cable systems. The Commission is confident that the Digital Migration Working Group, informed by the experience of the Digital Code Working Group as well as that to be gained through the launch of the new Category 1 and 2 digital services in September 2001, will be in a position to make further progress at that time. Among the working group's objectives should be the development of a consensus as to what final policy approach the Commission should take on the question of whether the programmer's consent should be required for the carriage of existing pay and specialty services on digital tiers.


The Commission intends to issue a public notice reconvening the Digital Migration Working Group following the initial launch of the new Category 1 and Category 2 specialty services. At that time, the Commission will provide an opportunity for interested parties to submit their views to the working group.


Issues regarding small cable systems - Call for comments


With regard to smaller cable system operators, the Digital Migration Working Group agreed that there may be a need for the Commission to develop a more flexible regulatory regime with respect to the digital distribution of pay and specialty services. The CCSA made a number of specific proposals with regard to such systems, recommending among other things that:


· there should be no restrictions on the duplication or migration of existing analog services by smaller cable systems;


· smaller cable systems should be governed by the same distribution and linkage requirements as their direct-to-home (DTH) competitors; and


· the regulatory framework should encourage pay and specialty services to provide equitable wholesale fees and reasonable terms to smaller systems for digital distribution of their services.


Both the CCSA and CCTA argued that the need for regulatory relief for small cable systems is urgent. They requested that the Commission respond as quickly as possible to the migration report and implement the appropriate measures.


The Commission hereby calls for comment with regard to digital migration issues as they pertain to smaller cable system operators, including issues specifically identified in the migration report. Without limiting the scope of the submissions, the Commission invites comment particularly on the following:


· the Commission's preliminary view that, for these purposes, small cable television operators should include those that are not affiliated with Cogeco, Rogers, Shaw or Vidéotron (unaffiliated cable companies);


· the appropriate wholesale rates for the carriage of existing services on the digital tiers of such distribution undertakings, and;


· any other special measures that may be appropriate for smaller distributors wishing to carry an existing service on a digital tier. In addition, parties are requested to provide an explanation as to how any measures they might suggest should be implemented.


The Commission will hold a two-stage written comment process for this proceeding. In the first stage, the Commission will accept comments that it receives on or before 22 June 2001. The Commission invites interested parties then to file further comments, including replies to any of those submitted during the first stage. Parties will have until 6 July 2001 to do so.


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:

Date Modified: 2001-05-25

Date modified: