ARCHIVED - Circular No. 446

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Circular No. 446

Ottawa, 2 November 2001

For the attention of the participants in the Digital Migration Working Group and other interested parties

The Commission will host the first meeting of the Digital Migration Working Group, commencing on 6 December 2001. The purpose of the meeting is to develop a Workplan to address outstanding issues; therefore it will focus on the process to be followed and the setting of priorities.


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.


The Digital Migration Working Group (the Working Group) formed in response to Public Notice 2000-113, 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 Working Group, entitled The Distribution of Existing Analog Pay and Specialty Services on a Digital Basis (the Migration Report),was filedwith the Commission on 2 February 2001.


Issues pertaining to large cable systems and smaller systems were 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. The Commission is addressing issues relating to migration by smaller cable operators in a separate proceeding (see Public Notice 2001-58, 25 May 2001). This Circular relates solely to migration of existing analog services by large cable operators.


The Migration Report indicated that large cable operators consider that the wholesale migration of existing analog specialty services to digital-only distribution is highly unlikely in the foreseeable future. Accordingly, the working group concluded that it was 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 no consensus on these issues. The CCTA and the CAB/SPTV, however, went on to identify the key principles that each believed to be of critical importance in dealing with these issues in the future.


In its comments made following the submission of the Migration Report, the Commission noted that, through the Working Group, as well as the Digital Code Working Group (see Public Notice CRTC 2001-57, 25 May 2001), the industry had made considerable progress in addressing issues related to the distribution of services on a digital basis. It also noted that while participants in these Working Groups had not been able to arrive at a consensus on all issues, they had managed to reach agreement on many points and to establish areas where they could co-operate. Where they were not able to agree, they clarified or narrowed the outstanding issues.


In Public Notice CRTC 2001-58, the Commission announced its intention that the Working Group reconvene to consider issues relating to large cable systems, following the launch of the new Category 1 and Category 2 digital specialty services. The Commission further said that, at that time, it would provide an opportunity for interested parties to submit their views to the working group.


Accordingly, noting that new Category 1 and Category 2 digital specialty services launched in September 2001, the Commission considers it appropriate to now reopen the discussion concerning digital migration issues as they relate to large cable systems.


The Commission expects the Working Group to reconvene on 6 December 2001. It is the Commission's intention to host this first meeting at its premises in Hull, Quebec.


The Commission's intended outcome for this initial meeting is the development of a preliminary workplan for addressing migration issues. Therefore, this meeting will focus on process matters including the setting of priorities and a timetable for the discussion of the issues.


The Commission refers interested parties to the Migration Report (that may be obtained at the examination room at the CRTC under this circular number) and, most particularly, to those sections respecting digital migration issues as they pertain to large cable system operators. Without limiting the scope of the discussion, the Commission would expect parties participating in the first meeting to be prepared to identify the issues that are, in their view, of primary concern and warrant early consideration. The Commission also expects the parties to have developed some preliminary views on the appropriate timetable and structure for consideration of all issues.


All persons intending to be present (including existing members of the Working Group, must notify the Commission of their interest by no later than 15 November 2001, referencing this Circular. They may do so by writing to the Secretary General, CRTC, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0N2. Alternatively, they may FAX the Commission at (819) 997-0218 or contact the Commission by email at The Commission will issue a list of interested parties at a later date.

13. While Commission staff will try to accommodate all interested parties, a selection will be made to ensure a representative and a balanced expression of views.
14. Participants will be contacted later by Commission staff as to the precise time and location for the meeting.
Secretary General

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Date Modified: 2001-11-01

Date modified: