ARCHIVED - Public Notice CRTC 2001-113

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Public Notice CRTC 2001-113

See also: 2001-113-1

Ottawa, 2 November 2001

Fact finding inquiry on interactivity

The Commission calls for information related to the provision of interactive services. The procedure for submitting information is set out at the end of the Notice.


In Decision CRTC 2001-668, issued today, the Commission renewed the licence issued to Pelmorex Communications Inc. (Pelmorex) for The Weather Network/Météomédia. As part of its licence renewal application, Pelmorex had applied for a change to its nature of service condition of licence to explicitly recognize interactivity as an integral part of its digital service. As indicated in Decision 2001-668, the Commission has determined that it is not appropriate to approve such an amendment at this time.


At the same time, the Commission recognizes the importance that interactivity may play in the development of new and existing Canadian programming services, as well as the potential of such services to provide tremendous value to consumers. The advent of digital distribution, and the ever increasing number of subscribers to digital service either through their cable, multi-point distribution systems (MDS), or satellite providers, stand to open up a broad range of opportunities to enhance the viewing choices and the level and type of service provided to subscribers.


In Public Notice CRTC 2000-171 Introductory Statement - Licensing of new digital pay and specialty services, the CRTC asked programming services and distributors to jointly develop a code to govern the launch and distribution of the new Category 1 and 2 digital services. In March 2001, the industry filed a set of joint principles which were published by the Commission in Public Notice CRTC 2001-57 Principles for the launch of Category 1 and 2 digital services. The Commission noted that the industry was unable to reach a consensus regarding principles to govern interactivity and stated:

As for interactive services, the Commission agrees with parties who submitted that it is too early to develop principles specific to this type of service. The Commission expects that there will be developments in this area in the short to medium term that will clarify the issues to be addressed. To this end, the Commission encourages both programmers and distributors to work together in such areas as the development of technical standards.


Developments in the last few months indicate that distributors and programmers are beginning to offer interactive features. For example, one of the set-top boxes now sold by Bell ExpressVu allows for interactivity. Rogers Cable Inc. has also recently announced that it would be providing interactive and enhanced cable services to its digital cable customers.


The Commission is of the opinion that the time is appropriate to initiate a process to gather facts on broadcasters', producers' and distributors' current and planned interactivity. This information will assist in the development of industry collaboration and help the industry and the Commission to address related issues as they arise.

What is interactivity?


It is difficult to define interactivity because it is a term that can be used to describe many rapidly evolving products and services. Rather than attempting to define interactivity precisely, the Commission provides the following characteristics that may apply to interactive services:

a) A process that involves some form of two-way communication between viewer and content provider (or distributor), and which allows the viewer to provide some form of response including interaction with the set-top box.
b) A process that provides information or viewing options (including alternative video or audio signals) in relation to the offer of programming services.

To whom is this inquiry directed?


The Commission seeks comments from all interested parties, including members of the public, educational and community groups, the creative community, producers, broadcasters (including specialty services, over-the-air television and radio stations), the advertising community and distributors (including cable, MDS and satellite).

What does this inquiry seek?


Interested parties are asked to submit information on the following to the Commission:

a) any other characteristics in addition to those set out in paragraph 6 above that apply to existing or planned interactive services;
b) the types of activities currently underway that they consider to be interactive, and the licensed services that they are related to or may have an impact on;
c) a detailed description of these interactive services, the content and how they work;
d) a description of the equipment needed by the viewer, producer, broadcaster or distributor and data concerning the availability and affordability of this equipment;
e) a description of the business models and current and potential demand for interactive services;
f) descriptions of partnerships with producers, broadcasters and distributors relating to provision of interactive services;
g) which of these interactive activities they consider to be broadcasting, and why;
h) which of these interactive activities they consider to fall under the new media exemption order (Public Notice CRTC 1999-197), and why;
i) planned developments related to interactivity in the coming year (or to be launched soon);
j) planned developments in the long term;
k) other information that parties consider would be of interest to this fact-finding inquiry.


The record of this proceeding may serve as part of any further proceeding on this question.

Call for comments


The Commission invites comments that address the issues and questions set out in this notice. The Commission will accept comments that it receives on or before 15 January 2002.


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, Ontario 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

Related CRTC documents

. Decision 2001-668 - Licence renewal for The Weather Network/Météomédia
. Public Notice 2001-57 - Principles for the launch of Category 1 and Category 2 digital services
. Public Notice 2000-171 - Introductory statement - Licensing of new digital pay and specialty services
. Public Notice 1999-197 - Exemption order for new media broadcasting undertakings.

Secretary General

This document is available in alternate format upon request and may also be examined at the following Internet site:

Date Modified: 2001-11-02

Date modified: