ARCHIVED - Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2002-384

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Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2002-384

See also: 2002-384-1

Ottawa, 27 November 2002

Viewer's Choice Canada Inc.
Eastern Canada

Application 2001-1331-6
Public Hearing in the National Capital Region
6 May 2002

Licence renewal for Viewer's Choice Canada, pay-per-view television service delivered via satellite to cable affiliates


The Commission received an application by Viewer's Choice Canada Inc. for the renewal of the licence for the regional English-language general interest pay-per-view (PPV) television service, known as Viewer's Choice Canada, delivered via satellite to cable affiliates in eastern Canada (Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces).


The Commission did not receive any intervention in connection with this application.


The Commission has reviewed Viewer's Choice Canada's performance over the current licence term, and is satisfied that the licensee has met the expectations and complied with each of the conditions attached to the current licence. The Commission renews the licence for Viewer's Choice Canada from 1 December 2002 to 31 August 20091. The licence will be subject to the conditions set out in the appendix to this decision.


Adult programming


The Commission expects the licensee to adhere to its internal policy on adult programming to ensure that such programming complies with provincial film classification and Canadian legislation.


In August 2001, the Commission asked the industry to revise and update the Pay Television Standards and Practices in order to more effectively address the broadcast of adult programming on pay, PPV and video-on-demand services. The revised Industry code of programming standards and practices governing pay, pay-per-view and video-on-demand services was submitted to the Commission, for approval, in January 2002. The Commission will issue a public notice regarding the revised code in the near future.

Offering programs in packages


Consistent with 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, the Commission expects that, with the exception of the events programming identified in the paragraph below, the licensee will only offer programming packages where the total period during which the programming is to be viewed does not exceed one week.


The Commission recognizes that some packages of events programming, such as seasonal sports or a Christmas concert series, make attractive programming packages that naturally continue longer than one week and that such programming is particularly appropriate for pay-per-view television services. For this reason,the Commission will not apply the limitation of one week to packages that are exclusively comprised of events. The Commission, nevertheless, expects that the events programming be limited to the events themselves and not include "wrap-around" programming that would tend to give the package the characteristics of a specialty service.

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;

· ensure that the on-screen portrayal of such groups is accurate, fair and free of stereotypes;

· support the work of the industry-community task force on cultural diversity initiated by Representation of cultural diversity on television - Creation of an industry/community task force, Public Notice CRTC 2001-88, 2 August 2001; and

· adhere to the corporate cultural diversity plan developed by Astral Broadcasting Group Inc., and submitted to the Commission in July 2002.

Service to persons with hearing impairments


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 the present case, the licensee made a commitment to close caption 90% of the first run feature films and events aired on its service during each broadcast year of the new licence term, with the exception of the broadcasts of team sports events.


The Commission notes, however, that specialty television services such as The Sports Network and Sportsnet currently caption 90% of their programming, including programs that feature team sports. Accordingly, the Commission considers that the licensee's proposal to exempt team sports from its commitment to closed captioning is not justified. In the circumstances, the Commission has decided that it is reasonable to require the licensee to close caption 90% of all of the programming broadcast on Viewer's Choice Canada during each broadcast year of the new licence term. A condition of licence to that effect is set out in the appendix to this decision.


The 90% obligation is based on the recognition that requiring 100% captioning at all times may not be reasonable or appropriate. Thus, the obligation is designed to provide some flexibility to cover unforeseen circumstances such as late delivery of captions, technical malfunctions, or the lack of availability of captions for programs acquired outside North America, or programming where captioning may not be feasible, such as third language programming.


The Commission expects the licensee to focus on improving the quality, reliability and accuracy of its closed captioning, and to work with representatives of the deaf and hard of hearing community to ensure that captioning continues to meet their needs.

Service to persons with visual impairments


The Commission is also committed to improving service to viewers who have visual impairments. "Described video" and "audio description" are methods of providing service that meets the needs of these viewers.


Described video, or video description as it is also known, consists of narrative descriptions of a program's key visual elements so that people who have visual impairments are able to form a mental picture of what is occurring on the screen. These descriptions are most often provided in a closed format, delivered by the secondary audio programming (SAP) channel, that is audible only to people who have selected that option.


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 persons who have visual impairments can receive the information.


The licensee stated that technical difficulties constrain its ability to provide described video in a closed format at present. Specifically, the licensee explained that it is not able to simultaneously originate two audio tracks, but stated that it is working to upgrade its equipment. The licensee also pointed out that, whereas Viewer's Choice Canada's signal is delivered digitally, SAP channels can only be accessed by analog signals. It confirmed that it is currently involved in discussions with the Canadian Satellite Users Association to find another solution to the traditional SAP method of delivering described video.


The Commission notes that, while the closed format is the preferred option for most broadcasters, described video can also be provided in an open format that is delivered as part of the original broadcast signal and is audible to all audiences. The licensee indicated that it may offer open description on an interim basis, dedicating particular showings at designated times on specific channels. Accordingly, the Commission encourages the licensee to offer open description of its programs, where available, until such time as the technical difficulties associated with providing described video in a closed format are resolved.


The Commission expects the licensee to work with broadcasting distribution undertakings to eliminate the impediments to providing described video in a closed format. Once a solution has been achieved, the Commission expects the licensee to acquire and broadcast the described versions of programs, wherever possible.


The Commission also expects the licensee to provide audio description of any information presented in alphanumeric format, for example that offered on the barker channel.


The Commission further expects the licensee to take the necessary steps to ensure that its customer service responds to the needs of viewers with visual impairments.

Compliance with industry codes


In accordance with its usual practice for pay television services, the Commission is imposing a condition of licence onViewer's Choice Canada requiring the licensee to adhere to the Pay television programming standards and practices code.


The Commission is also imposing conditions of licence requiring the licensee to adhere to industry codes related to violence and sex-role portrayal.

Employment equity


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

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 In Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2002-238, 22 August 2002, the Commission granted a three-month administrative renewal to Viewer's Choice Canada, from 1 September 2002 to 30 November 2002.


Appendix to Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2002-384


Regional English-language general interest pay-per-view (PPV) television service delivered via satellite to cable affiliates in eastern Canada, known as Viewer's Choice Canada


Conditions of licence

  1. The licensee shall distribute on its programming undertaking, in each broadcast year, a minimum of 12 Canadian feature films (including all new Canadian features that are available and suitable for PPV and meet the Pay television programming standards and practices code), and a minimum of four Canadian-based events.
  2. The licensee shall retain control at all times over the scheduling of films and events exhibited on the cable television undertakings operated by its affiliates, and shall, in each broadcast year, maintain a minimum Canadian to non-Canadian ratio of 1:20 for first-run film titles, and 1:7 for events, on each channel used for their exhibition.
  3. The licensee shall remit to the rights holders of all Canadian films and to the rights holders of four Canadian-based events, in each broadcast year, 100% of the net revenues earned from the exhibition of these Canadian films and Canadian-based events.
  4. The licensee shall contribute to The Harold Greenberg Fund/Le Fonds Harold Greenberg for equity investment in Canadian films, a minimum of 5% of the licensee's net revenues, over the licence term.
  5. (a) The licensee shall not distribute any film or video production with respect to which Astral Communications Inc. (Astral) has carried on activities other than financing or distribution.
  (b) Where Astral has carried on financing or distribution activities with respect to a film or video production, the licensee shall not distribute that film or video production unless all actual production and creative control, apart from such financial approvals as are normally required in such circumstances, remains the full responsibility of an independent Canadian production company.
  6. Notwithstanding the distribution and linkage requirements referred to in section 20 of the Broadcasting Distribution Regulations, the service provided by the licensee shall not be linked with any non-Canadian discretionary service, and the licensee shall not enter into any affiliation agreement with cable affiliates that do not incorporate this prohibition against linkage.
  7. The licensee shall caption at least 90% of all programs that it airs in each broadcast year of the licence term.
  8. 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 accepted by the Commission.
  9. The licensee shall adhere to the Pay television programming standards and practices code, as amended from time to time and accepted by the Commission.
  10. The licensee shall adhere to the Pay television and pay-per-view programming code regarding violence, as amended from time to time and accepted by the Commission.

For the purpose of these conditions:


"broadcast year" means the period from 1 September to 31 August and each twelve-month period thereafter beginning on 1 September;


"net revenue" means gross revenue received from the distribution of all programming on the licensee's service less any amount retained by the cable affiliate or other distribution affiliate for the carriage of programming distributed by the licensee; and


"remit" means actual cash outlay.

Date Modified: 2002-11-27

Date modified: