ARCHIVED - Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2002-414

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Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2002-414

Ottawa, 9 December 2002

TVA Group Inc., Films Rozon inc. and BCE Media Inc. (OBCI)
TVA Group Inc., Publications Transcontinental inc. and BCE Media Inc. (OBCI)
TVA Group Inc., Global Television Network Inc. and Rogers Broadcasting Limited (OBCI)
Le Réseau des sports (RDS) inc.

Across Canada

Applications 2002-0625-2, 2002-0624-4, 2002-0626-0, 2002-0574-1
Broadcasting Public Notices CRTC 2002-43 and 2002-46
8 and 15 August 2002

Second deadline to commence operations


The Commission received applications by the above-noted licensees for an extension of the time limit to commence operation of the national digital French-language Category 1 specialty television services Télé Ha! Ha!, LCN Affaires, Canal Mystère (previously known as 13ième rue) and Info-Sports (previously known as Réseau Info Sports).1


The Commission did not receive any interventions in connection with these applications.


The Commission notes that these applications constitute the second request to extend the implementation date of these services. The first requests were approved in Extension of the implementation date to 30 September 2002, Decisions CRTC 2001-528, 28 August 2001 and 2001-639, 5 October 2001, which granted a ten-month extension period.

Reasons for a second extension


The applicants submit that the current climate is not conducive to the launch of new digital French-language Category 1 specialty services, pointing out the limited success of the launch of digital English-language specialty services in the fall of 2001. Given that the Francophone market is smaller than the Anglophone market, the applicants would like to obtain more information on the English-language services launch to learn from it so as to ensure that the launch of French-language specialty services is more successful.


The applicants also submit that the number of digital decoders currently in use in the Francophone markets is below the critical mass required to ensure that the launch of the French-language services is a success. The applicants estimate that there are between 500,000 and 600,000 digital decoders in the Francophone markets, whereas there are over two million in the Anglophone markets.


The applicants also note some disruption in Quebec's distribution market at this time, which would prevent programming undertakings from negotiating satisfactory distribution agreements with cable and direct-to-home distribution undertakings.

The Commission's analysis and conclusion


By approving a limited number of digital French-language Category 1 specialty services, the Commission granted licensees protection regarding the programming genres offered and the digital access privileges to distribution undertakings. In return, the Commission expected the licensees to commence their operations within a reasonable timeframe. When it approved the initial extension of implementation of those services, the Commission indicated to the licensees that such an extension did not exempt them from their obligation to commence operation of those specialty services as soon as possible.


The Commission notes that the Anglophone markets are currently served by 30 analog specialty services, 16 digital Category 1 specialty services and 31 English-language Category 2 specialty services. There are only 16 analog French-language specialty services and no digital specialty services available in the Francophone markets.


The Commission also notes that pursuant to section 18(11.1) of the Broadcasting Distribution Regulations, distribution undertakings with a nominal capacity of at least 750 MHz that offer digital services are required to distribute, among other services, all digital English-language Canadian Category 1 specialty services. That requirement means that in a market like Montréal, all digital English-language Category 1 specialty services have been made available without an offering of French-language services.


In approving the five French-language services, the Commission concluded that proposed programming genres were the most likely to attract the highest possible number of Francophone viewers and contribute to the diversity of programming available in Francophone markets, while promoting the deployment of digital decoders. As a result, the Commission is of the view that the current situation argues in favour of a rapid deployment of the approved digital French-language Category 1 specialty services.


After considering some of the arguments raised by the applicants, however, the Commission approves the applications to extend the implementation date of the national digital French-language Category 1 specialty television services known as Télé Ha! Ha!, LCN Affaires, Canal Mystère and Info-Sports to 30 September 2003. However, the Commission expects the licensees to do everything in their power to commence operations of these services as soon as possible. The Commission also directs the licensees to file a report no later than 30 June 2003 confirming the implementation of the services.


The Commission reminds the licensees that if they cannot commence operation of these specialty services by the end of the period approved herein, or if the Commission refuses to approve any subsequent applications by the licensees for an extension, the licences will not be issued.

Secretary General

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

1 These services were authorized in Decisions CRTC 2000-465 (Info-Sports), 2000-467 (Télé Ha! Ha!), 2000-468 (LCN Affaires) and 2000-469 (Canal Mystère), 14 December 2000.

Date Modified: 2002-12-09

Date modified: