ARCHIVED - Letter
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Ottawa, 1 August 2007
Mr. Michael Ferras
Vice-President, Regulatory Affairs
Shaw Communications Inc.
440 Laurier Ave W., Suite 330
Ottawa, Ontario K1R 7X6
Ms. Cynthia Rathwell
Vice President, Regulatory Affairs
Star Choice Communications Inc.
440 Laurier Avenue West, Suite 200
Ottawa, Ontario K1R 7X6
Dear Mr. Ferras and Ms. Rathwell:
Re: Complaint by the Canadian Association of Broadcasters regarding non-compliance of certain broadcasting distribution undertakings with the Commission's regulatory framework respecting the simultaneous substitution of high-definition signals
This letter is further to the complaint dated 23 November 2006 filed by the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) concerning the non-compliance of certain broadcasting distribution undertakings (BDUs) with the Commission's regulatory framework respecting the simultaneous substitution of programs in high definition (HD).
The CAB filed its complaint on behalf of CHUM Limited (CHUM) in respect of its CITY-TV station in Toronto , CTV Inc. (CTV) in respect of its stations in Toronto and Vancouver, and CanWest MediaWorks Inc. (CanWest) in respect of its Toronto HD feed. In its complaint, the CAB submitted that, although the Commission's regulatory framework respecting the distribution of HD signals has been in place for over three years, and notwithstanding the explicit acknowledgement by many BDUs of their obligation to perform simultaneous substitution in respect of HD signals under this framework, Canadian conventional English-language broadcasters have had little response to requests they have made to BDUs to substitute their HD signals for identical and simultaneously broadcast HD programming on U.S. stations.
In a letter dated 4 December 2006, the Commission asked the BDUs that were the subject of the CAB's complaint to respond. The Commission received comments from Shaw Communications Inc. (Shaw) on behalf of Shaw Cablesystems Vancouver Class 1 systems (Shaw Cablesystems) and Star Choice on 22 December 2006. The CAB filed reply comments on 9 January 2007.
In response to the CAB's complaint, Shaw submitted that Canadian broadcasters are not doing enough to ensure that the Canadian broadcasting system is moving to HD and that, under these circumstances, it is unfair to expect Shaw to implement new HD switching technologies and software to perform substitution for the limited number of HD programs from Canadian broadcasters.
Shaw stated that, when these broadcasters are able to broadcast 100% of their schedule in HD, Shaw and Star Choice will fully commit to performing HD substitution, at the cost of the broadcaster, who receives 100% of the benefit of these substitutions.
The Commission's determination
In Public Notice 2003-61 , the Commission announced its regulatory policy for HD simultaneous substitution, which is as follows:
- A primary digital service that is carried by a distributor on a priority basis will enjoy the same substitution rights as an analog service with the same priority status.
- Substitution will be required only if the quality of the signal of the broadcaster making the request is the same as or higher than the quality of the signal to be replaced.
Accordingly, the regulatory framework set out in Public Notice 2003-61 requires BDUs to undertake simultaneous substitution of programs in high definition provided that the quality of the signal of the broadcaster making the request is the same as or higher than the quality of the signal to be replaced.
The Commission notes that CanWest does not currently have an operational digital transmitter. The policy established in Broadcasting Public Notice 2003-61 does not make provision for CanWest to submit requests for the simultaneous substitution in the absence of an operational transmitter. Therefore, the Commission is dismissing the complaint against the BDUs in question with respect to CanWest's Toronto HD feed.
With respect to the complaint on behalf of CTV and CHUM, the Commission considers that BDUs that are not carrying out simultaneous substitution on behalf of CTV and CITY-TV in Toronto and CTV in Vancouver are not complying with the regulatory framework set out in Public Notice 2003-61.
Accordingly, the Commission directs Shaw Cablesystems and Star Choice to undertake HD substitution with respect to all HD stations, and in particular, the CITY-TV station in Toronto and the CTV stations in Toronto and Vancouver by the end of the calendar year. To that end, the Commission requires Shaw Cablesystems and Star Choice to file, by 23 August 2007, detailed plans to implement HD substitution by no later than the end of the calendar year. In the absence of a specific implementation plan, the Commission will consider further enforcement action.
The Commission will also require a progress report on Shaw Cablesystems' and Star Choice's implementation efforts. That report is to be filed with the Commission by 15 November 2007, with a copy to the CAB.
Original signed by
Robert A. Morin
Rogers Cable Inc.
Cogeco Cable Inc.
Source Cable Limited
Delta Cable Communications Ltd.
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