ARCHIVED - Public Notice CRTC 2001-96

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Public Notice CRTC 2001-96

Ottawa, 24 August 2001

Call for Comments - Bulk Billing by Direct-to-Home Satellite Distribution Undertakings

In this notice, the Commission calls for comment on whether direct-to-home satellite distribution undertakings should be permitted, as cable broadcasting distribution undertakings currently are, to engage in the practice of bulk billing without restrictions.


In Decision CRTC 2001-521 issued today, the Commission addresses matters raised in a complaint filed by Rogers Cable Inc. (Rogers). In its complaint, Rogers alleged that Star Choice Communications Inc. (Star Choice) had breached the terms of its direct-to-home (DTH) distribution licence by entering into bulk billing arrangements with owners of various multiple unit dwellings (MUDs) in and around Toronto.


Rogers stated that bulk billing occurs when a building owner acquires programming services from a broadcasting distribution undertaking (BDU) on a wholesale basis for redistribution to the tenants of the owner's building. Rogers indicated that, in such circumstances, the building owner is responsible for selecting the services that will be available to the tenants who reside in the building, and for paying the BDU for those services. Rogers added that the building owner recoups the fee that he or she pays to the BDU for bulk delivery of the programming services by charging each tenant a fixed monthly fee, which is typically included in the tenant's monthly rent.


Rogers argued further that, by providing the buildings in question with television services on a bulk basis, Star Choice is providing services contrary to Decision CRTC 96-529, which awarded Star Choice its DTH licence, but restricted Star Choice's authority to distribute programming services, as follows:

The service herein authorized, to be known as Star Choice, will derive its revenues entirely from subscription fees, and will provide programming services exclusively to individual subscribers in all parts of Canada on a DTH basis (emphasis added by Rogers).


In response to Rogers' complaint, Star Choice argued, among other things, that a prohibition on the use of bulk billing arrangements by DTH undertakings would create a competitive advantage for terrestrial BDUs and could reduce the choice that consumers have among service providers.


In its reply comments, Rogers acknowledged that cable operators are permitted to enter into bulk arrangements. Rogers added that bulk billing was a method used in a monopoly environment to provide a discounted service offering to subscribers residing in MUDs. Rogers noted that it still has some buildings under a bulk contract. However, most building owners have chosen not to renew bulk agreements, in favour of offering choice through allowing a second provider into their buildings.


In Decision 2001-521, the Commission expressed concern that the inability of DTH providers to engage in the practice of bulk billing without restrictions, as cable companies currently do, may place DTH providers at a competitive disadvantage relative to other types of distribution undertakings. The Commission is of the preliminary view that the public interest would best be served by permitting cable and DTH distributors to engage in the practice of bulk billing on the same basis. This would require amendments to the DTH licences currently held by Star Choice and Bell ExpressVu Limited Partnership.


The Commission requests comment on the preliminary view set out above.


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 21 September 2001. The Commission invites interested parties then to file replies to any of the comments submitted during the first stage. Parties will have until 12 October 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: 2001-08-24

Date modified: