ARCHIVED - Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2002-203

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Broadcasting Decision CRTC CRTC 2002-203

Ottawa, 23 July 2002

Groupe Archambault inc.
Province of Quebec

Application 2001-1089-1
Public Hearing at Québec, Quebec
18 February 2002

Théâtre Archambault @ la maison - video-on-demand service

The Commission approves the application for a licence to operate a regional bilingual video-on-demand service to be known as Théâtre Archambault @ la maison.

The application


The Commission received an application by Groupe Archambault inc. (Groupe Archambault) for a broadcasting licence to operate a bilingual regional video-on-demand (VOD) service to be known as Théâtre Archambault @ la maison (Théâtre Archambault).


Groupe Archambault is controlled by Communications Quebecor inc., which is controlled by Quebecor Média inc., itself controlled by Quebecor inc.


The proposed VOD service would provide programming consisting mainly of English- and French-language feature films. Some third-language programming may also be provided.


The applicant stated that it would accept the conditions of licence that were approved by the Commission for similar services in the following notices: Licensing of New Video-on-demand Programming Undertakings, Public Notice CRTC 1997-83, 2 July 1997 (Public Notice l997-83) and Introductory statement to Decisions CRTC 2000-733 to 2000-738: Licensing of new video-on-demand and pay-per-view services, Public Notice CRTC 2000-172, 14 December 2000 (Public Notice 2000-172).


The applicant submitted that, according to a 17 September 2001 letter of understanding between Groupe Archambault and Le Groupe Vidéotron ltée (Vidéotron), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Quebecor Média inc., Groupe Archambault would control and operate the undertaking while mandating Vidéotron to manage the technological infrastructure required for the new VOD service.


The Commission did not receive any interventions with respect to the application.

The Commission's determination


The Commission established a regulatory framework for VOD undertakings in Public Notice 1997-83. In Public Notice 2000-172, the Commission determined that this framework continued to be appropriate, subject to certain modifications.


The Commission considers that Groupe Archambault's proposal complies fully with the regulatory framework for VOD undertakings and, accordingly, approves the application for a licence to operate Théâtre Archambault @ la maison.


In the following sections, the Commission examines the applicant's commitments relating to programming and financial contributions to independent production, as well as issues relating to cultural diversity, closed captioning, services for the visually impaired and adherence to industry codes.


Block programming


The applicant confirmed that, with the exception of programming packages relating exclusively to events, its programming packages will be made available to viewers for periods not exceeding one week.


The Commission notes that this proposal is consistent with its policy as set out in Public Notice 2000-172.

French-language services


The applicant proposed to offer programming consisting largely of French- and English-language feature films. It stipulated that a minimum of 50% of its programs would be in French.


The Commission notes that Vidéotron will be responsible for managing the technological infrastructure required for the new service, and that this distributor serves more than 75% of the French-language market in the province of Quebec.


In order to ensure that the market is adequately served, the Commission imposes a condition of licence that at least 50% of the programs offered by Groupe Archambault are in French.

Adult programming


The Commission expects licensees who broadcast adult programming to implement a policy to ensure that such programming complies with provincial standards and Canadian legislation.


Consistent with the applicant's commitment, the Commission expects to receive the company policy on adult programming before the service is implemented.

Financial support for independent production


In Public Notice 2000-172, the Commission stated that, for the purpose of calculating the financial contributions to independent production provided by a VOD service that is affiliated to or integrated with a distributor, the gross annual revenues of the VOD service will be deemed to be 50% of the total annual retail revenues received from VOD customers for VOD services. Given that Groupe Archambault and Vidéotron are both controlled by Quebecor Média inc., the Commission imposes a condition of licence to this effect.

Cultural diversity


Section 3(1)(d)(iii) of the Broadcasting Act stipulates that the Canadian broadcasting system should "through its programming and the employment opportunities arising out of its operations, serve the needs and interests, and reflect the circumstances and aspirations, of Canadian men, women and children, including equal rights, the linguistic duality and multicultural and multiracial nature of Canadian society and the special place of aboriginal peoples within that society".


The Commission expects the licensee to endeavour, through its programming and employment opportunities, to reflect the presence in Canada of cultural and racial minorities and Aboriginal peoples. The Commission further expects the licensee to ensure that the on-screen portrayal of such groups is accurate, fair and free of stereotypes.

Closed captioning


The Commission is committed to improving service to viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing, and has consistently encouraged broadcasters to increase the amount of closed captioned programming they broadcast. The Commission generally requires all broadcasters to offer a minimum percentage of closed captioned programs consistent with the nature of their services.


In this regard, the applicant stated that it expected to obtain closed captioned versions of the majority of recently produced Canadian and foreign feature films and of most of the less recent programs it intends to offer.


Accordingly, the licensee shall, by condition of licence, provide closed captioning for not less than 90% of all programs aired during the broadcast day, by no later than 1 September 2006, and for the remainder of the licence term.

Service to the visually impaired


The Commission is committed to improving the television service available to the visually impaired through the provision of audio description1 and video description (also known as described video)2.


Consistent with this objective, the Commission expects the licensees to provide an audio description of all programming that provides textual or graphic information.


The Commission notes the increasing amount of described video programming available for acquisition, particularly from U.S. sources. It notes as well the encouragement given to the operators of the new specialty services and pay services renewed in 2001 and the requirements it has placed on the television stations operated by Global, CTV and TVA concerning the provision of such programming. The Commission therefore expects that the licensee will acquire and broadcast the described video versions of programs wherever possible. The Commission also expects the licensee to take the necessary steps to ensure that its customer service responds to the needs of visually impaired viewers.

Compliance with industry codes


In accordance with its usual practice, the Commission is imposing a condition of licence requiring the licensee to adhere to industry codes related to violence and sex-role portrayal. The licensee must also adhere, by way of a condition of licence, to the Pay Television Programming Standards and Practices Code.

Other matter


Because this licensee is subject to the Employment Equity Act and files reports concerning employment equity with Human Resources Development Canada, the Commission does not assess its employment equity practices.

Issuance of the licence


The licence for Théâtre Archambault will expire on 31 August 2008. The conditions of licence are listed in the appendix to this decision and in the licence to be issued.


The licence for this undertaking will be issued once the licensee has informed the Commission in writing that it is prepared to commence operations. The undertaking must be operational at the earliest possible date and in any event no later than 24 months of the date of this decision, unless a request for an extension of time is approved by the Commission before 23 July 2004. In order to ensure that such a request is processed in a timely manner, it should be submitted at least 60 days before this date.


Given Vidéotron's role in managing the technological infrastructure, the Commission reminds the applicant of the stipulation contained in all broadcasting licences that, except as authorized by the Commission, a broadcasting undertaking shall be operated in fact by the licensee itself.

Secretary General

This decision is to be appended to the licence. It is available in alternative format upon request, and may also be examined at the following Internet site:

1 Audio description involves the provision of basic voice-overs of textual or graphic information displayed on the screen. A broadcaster providing audio description will, for example, not simply display sports scores on the screen, but also read them aloud so that people who are visually impaired can receive the information.

2 Video description, or described video as it is also known, consists of narrative descriptions of a program's key visual elements so that people who are visually impaired are able to form a mental picture of what is occurring on the screen. These descriptions can be provided on the Secondary Audio Programming (SAP) channel. Not all broadcasters are currently equipped to deliver a SAP signal. Thus, the introduction of described video via the SAP channel could require significant capital expenditures to upgrade a licensee's transmission facilities.


Appendix to Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2002-203


Conditions of licence

  1. The licensee shall adhere to the Pay Television Regulations, 1990, with the exception of section 4 (logs and records).
  2. The licensee shall maintain for a period of one year, and submit to the Commission upon request, a detailed list of the inventory available on each file server, identifying each program by programming category, by country of origin and by language of broadcast, and indicating the period of time that each program was on the server and available to subscribers.
  3. The licensee shall ensure at all times that:

a) at least 5% of the English-language feature films and not less than 8% of the French-language feature films in the inventory available to subscribers are Canadian;


b) the feature film inventory includes all new Canadian feature films that are suitable for VOD exhibition and which meet the approved Pay Television Standards and Practices Code;


c) at least 20% of all programming other than feature films in the inventory available to subscribers is Canadian;


d) at least 50% of the program titles it offers are in French.

  4. The licensee shall contribute 5% of its gross annual revenues to a Canadian program production fund administered independently of its undertaking. For the purpose of this condition:

a) "gross annual revenues", when the video-on-demand service is not a "related service", shall be the total amount received from the broadcasting undertaking distributing the video-on-demand service;


b) "gross annual revenues", when the video-on-demand service is a "related service", shall be 50% of the total revenues received from customers for the video-on-demand services provided by the broadcasting distribution undertaking;


c) a "related service" is one in which the broadcasting distribution undertaking distributing the video-on-demand service, or any of its shareholders owns, directly or indirectly, 30% or more of the equity of the video-on-demand service.

  5. The licensee shall ensure that at least 25% of the titles promoted each month on its barker channel are Canadian titles.
  6. The licensee shall remit, to the rights holders of all Canadian films, 100% of the revenues earned from the exhibition of these films.
  7. The licensee shall not enter into an affiliation agreement with the licensee of a distribution undertaking unless the agreement incorporates a prohibition against linkage of its service with any non-Canadian discretionary service.
  8. No later than 1 September 2006 and until the end of the licence term, the licensee shall caption at least 90% of all programs it airs during the broadcast day.
  9. The licensee shall adhere to the guidelines on gender portrayal set out in the Canadian Association of Broadcasters' Sex-role portrayal code for television and radio programming, as amended from time to time and approved by the Commission. The application of the foregoing condition of licence will be suspended as long as the licensee is a member in good standing of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council.
  10. The licensee shall adhere to the Pay Television Programming Standards and Practices Code, as amended from time to time and approved by the Commission.
  11. The licensee shall adhere to the Pay television and pay-per-view programming code regarding violence, as amended from time to time and approved by the Commission.

Date Modified: 2002-07-23

Date modified: