Ottawa, 10 July 2001
Ms. Joan F. Myles
Solicitor (on behalf of Regional Cablesystems Inc.)
Suite 900 Atlantic Place
Water Street, P.O. Box 1538
St. John's, Newfoundland
Re: Application # 2001-0523-0: Approval of the Application by Regional Cablesystems Inc. for the Authority to Distribute both a second set of U.S. 4+1 signals and Distant Canadian Signals (CRTC List of Part 3 Eligible Services) on a Digital Discretionary Basis for its cablesystems located in Sudbury, Timmins, Sturgeon Falls/Jocko Point/Verner, Kirkland Lake/Chaput Hughes/King Kirkland, Elliot Lake, Kapuskasing, and New Liskeard, Ontario
Dear Ms. Myles:
1. The Commission approves the applications by Regional Cablesystems Inc. ("Regional") to distribute on its Class 1 and Class 2 cable distribution undertakings serving the communities noted above, the following services on a discretionary digital basis:
any of the Canadian signals listed on the Commission's List of Part 3 eligible satellite services. This list includes a wide range of Canadian television stations that can presently be distributed by Class 3 cable systems;
a second set of signals that provides the programming of the four U.S. commercial networks (CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX) and the non-commercial PBS network. These signals are generally referred to as the "U.S. 4 + 1 signals." Regional already distributes a first set of U.S. 4+1 signals on an analog basis.
2. Approval of these applications is subject to a provision, set out later in this decision, that is designed to protect the program rights acquired by local broadcasters.
3. The Commission notes that, in Regional's application, Regional indicated that it would accept a provision of approval similar to the one imposed in Decision CRTC 2000-437 on a number of cable licensees (i.e., Rogers, Shaw and Videon) who were granted the authority to distribute distant Canadian signals and a duplicate set of U.S. 4+1 signals on a digital basis. In its Decision CRTC 2001-229, which was issued after receipt of Regional's application, the Commission approved a similar application by Access Communications Co-operative Limited with a similar provision of approval.
The Commission's determination
4. The Commission considers that discretionary carriage in a digital format of Canadian signals included on the List of Part 3 eligible satellite services and an additional set of U.S. 4+1 signals, coupled with other initiatives such as the carriage of new licensed Canadian digital services, may serve as an incentive for cable customers to subscribe to the digital service offered by cable systems. It also provides an opportunity to increase the choice of signals available to cable subscribers.
5. The Commission, however, recognizes the need to protect the program rights that local broadcasters purchase. Carriage of a second set of U.S. 4+1 signals in addition to the first set carried on an analog basis, as well as a wide range of Canadian distant signals has the potential to erode these rights and impinge on the ability of local broadcasters to fulfil their programming obligations and responsibilities.
6. The Commission has therefore approved the applications subject to the following provision of approval:
Provision of approval
7. The distribution on a discretionary basis on the licensee's digital service of a second set of U.S. 4+1 signals (that is, a set of U.S. 4+1 signals in addition to the set of such signals already carried by the system) and Canadian distant signals is subject to the provision that, with respect to such signals, the licensee adhere to the requirements regarding non-simultaneous program deletion set out in section 43 of the Broadcasting Distribution Regulations. The Commission may suspend the application of this provision upon its approval of an executed agreement between the licensee and broadcasters. Such an agreement must deal with issues related to the protection of program rights arising in connection with the discretionary carriage of a second set of U.S. 4+1 signals and Canadian distant signals solely on the licensee's digital service, as approved in this decision.
8. Regional is reminded that the rules on simultaneous substitution for the services that it distributes, as set out in section 30 of the Broadcasting Distribution Regulations, continue to apply.
9. The Commission reminds Regional that the carriage of minority official language services as outlined in Public Notices CRTC 2001-25 and 2001-26 as well as the new specialty, pay-per-view and video-on-demand services licensed in November 2000 will also require the use of digital capacity. The Commission expects that Regional should take into account the requirements set out in PNs 2001-25 and 2001-26 as well as the potential for disruption to subscribers with any future changes to channel line-ups.
10. Furthermore, the Commission notes that some of the communities identified on this application have a significant francophone population, whose members may subscribe to a Regional cable system operating within one of these communities. The Commission reminds Regional to take into consideration the linguistic make up of the population served by its cable systems when Regional chooses to act on the authorities contained in this decision.
11. In Public Notice CRTC 2000-155, the Commission announced revisions to the distribution and linkage rules. These revisions permit any Canadian television service that is included on the List of Part 3 eligible satellite services to be linked with a second set of U.S. 4+1 network signals that the licensee is authorized to distribute provided that these signals are distributed only on a discretionary digital basis.
Please note that this decision letter is to be appended to the licences and that all correspondence on this matter will be placed on the public file.
Date Modified: 2001-07-17