ARCHIVED - Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2002-49

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Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2002-49

Ottawa, 16 August 2002

Call for comments on the channel placement of services whose distribution has been required pursuant to section 9(1)(h) of the Broadcasting Act

In this public notice, the Commission seeks comments on questions surrounding the channel placement of programming services that have been licensed for mandatory carriage as part of the basic service pursuant to section 9(1)(h) of the Broadcasting Act, in particular the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) and TVA.



During the Commission proceeding that culminated in Ownership of analog discretionary services by cable undertakings - amendment to the Commission's policy, Public Notice CRTC 2001-66-1, 24 August 2001, Vision TV: Canada's Faith Network, along with Torstar Corporation, Omni Films, and Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) (the parties) suggested that the Commission consider a new approach to the packaging of public broadcasting services, as well as educational and independent programming services, by requiring such services to be given mandatory carriage on the basic cable service, along with favourable channel placement. Vision TV also argued in favour of this approach, calling it the foundation tier concept, during its licence renewal hearing in June 2001, and again during the proceeding that culminated in Rate deregulation for cable systems, Decision CRTC 2001-630, 4 October 2001.


The Commission considers that the introduction of the foundation tier concept would be disruptive for consumers and would have major technical and operational implications for distributors and programming service providers. Furthermore, it would represent a major change to the regulatory framework relating to basic service. The Commission is, therefore, of the view that the foundation tier is neither practical nor appropriate.


During the Commission's examination of the foundation tier concept, questions surrounding the actual availability of those services whose distribution has been required as part of the basic service pursuant to section 9(1)(h) of the Broadcasting Act (the Act) were raised. That section of the Act specifically states that the Commission may:

require any licensee who is authorised to carry on a distribution undertaking to carry, under such terms and conditions as the Commission deems appropriate, programming services specified by the Commission.



In Decision CRTC 98-488, 29 October 1998, the Commission approved the national distribution of TVA, the French-language television service of TVA Group Inc. The Commission determined that national distribution of the service would help increase the availability of French-language television services across Canada and would contribute to promoting Canada's linguistic duality and cultural diversity, in keeping with several policy objectives of the Act.


Accordingly, in Order respecting the distribution of the French-language television service of TVA Group Inc., Public Notice CRTC 1999-27, 12 February 1999, as corrected by Public Notice CRTC 1999-27-1, 19 May 1999, the Commission directed Class 1 and Class 2 broadcasting distribution undertakings (BDUs) and direct-to-home (DTH) distribution undertakings to distribute the TVA network signal as part of the basic service, effective 1 May 1999.


Similarly, in Decision CRTC 99-42, 22 February 1999, the Commission approved the national distribution of the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN). The Commission found that APTN would strengthen the cultural identity of Aboriginal peoples through new and diverse Canadian programming and offer a cultural bridge between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians, also in keeping with the policy objectives of the Act.


In Order respecting the distribution of the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN), Public Notice CRTC 1999-70, 21 April 1999, the Commission directed Class 1 and 2 BDUs and DTH systems, pursuant to section 9(1)(h), to distribute APTN as part of the basic service, effective 1 September 1999.

Channel placement and delivery of programming services


The Commission notes that cable distribution undertakings typically place the programming services they offer as follows:

· the first 20 to 30 channels constitute the unscrambled basic service and are available to all subscribers;
· two to four fixed tiers of specialty services are next in the channel line-up and are available at additional cost;
· a block of fully discretionary (scrambled) pay and pay-per-view (PPV) services is usually next in the channel line-up; and
· channels above 55 (top-end analog channels) are often used to distribute additional basic services.


The Commission is aware that many cable distribution undertakings have placed the signals of APTN and TVA on these top-end analog channels. Some older television sets may not be able to display the top-end analog channels and subscribers who "surf" channels may be less likely to look beyond the scrambled pay television and PPV channels.


In the Commission's view, this practice may be inconsistent with its objectives in ordering the distribution of these services as part of the basic service pursuant to section 9(1)(h). In particular, the Commission is concerned whether the APTN and TVA services are actually widely available to Canadians and are as readily accessible as they should be.

Issues to be explored


Given the significant contributions of APTN and TVA to the policy objectives of the Act, the Commission considers that the actual availability of these services to all Canadians is necessary. Accordingly, the Commission invites comments with respect to the following matters.

· Should the Commission establish analog channel placement requirements for the services it has ordered to be carried on the basic service pursuant to section 9(1)(h) of the Act? What channel placement would be appropriate for the distribution of such services?
· How would a requirement to carry section 9(1)(h) services on lower analog channels affect cable distribution undertakings? For example, what would be the specific cost implications of such a requirement? What would be a reasonable timeframe to phase in any change?
· How would a requirement to carry section 9(1)(h) services on lower analog channels affect consumers? How could any potential negative consequences for consumers, if any, be mitigated? What effect, if any, would such a requirement have on programming service providers?
· Are there alternative initiatives or mechanisms that could be put in place by cable distribution undertakings and/or the programming services themselves to ensure that section 9(1)(h) services are more readily available and visible to all Canadians?

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 16 October 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, on diskette or by email. Submissions longer than five pages should include a summary.


Parties wishing to file their comments on paper or on diskette should send them to the Secretary General, CRTC, Ottawa, K1A 0N2.


Parties wishing to file their comments by email can do so by sending them to


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. All comments, whether filed on paper or in electronic form, will be available in the public examination file.


The Commission 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

Secretary General

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

Date Modified: 2002-08-16

Date modified: