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Ottawa, 7 September 2007
TO: Quebecor, Cogeco, CTV, Canwest, Rogers, Corus, Astral, CAB
This is to inform you that the Commission intends to discuss at the 17 September 2007 public hearing, the impact of disclosure of financial information, aggregated by ownership group, of over-the-air radio and television broadcasters in a manner similar to that set out for pay and specialty services in Circular No. 429. Such information relating to over-the-air radio and television licensees would be aggregated by ownership group.
As set out in CRTC Circular No. 429, dated August 19, 1998 , the Commission's current practice is to treat the annual returns and historical financial statements of over-the-air radio/television undertakings as confidential. Only the aggregated financial data at the national and regional levels for the industry as a whole is made available to the public. At the time of the circular, the broadcast environment was characterized by a greater variety of locally-based owners and the rationale for confidentiality was that disclosure might prejudice an undertaking's ability to compete and contribute positively to the broadcasting system.
Since 2000 however increased consolidation in the broadcasting industry has resulted in a relatively few number of large multi-station ownership groups most of whom also control significant numbers of pay and specialty services. These large ownership groups have a privileged position in the Canadian broadcasting system.
Parties to the 17 September 2007, Diversity of Voices, proceeding have expressed the view that the disclosure of financial information relating to the over-the-air licences controlled by for the large multi-station ownership groups is essential to the public interest. Specifically, the financial information that broadcasters provide to the Commission on an annual basis is an important tool for assessing the performance of these groups in meeting their regulatory obligations and assessing their contributions to the broadcasting system.
The Commission will seek comments from large broadcast distribution undertaking owners on a similar proposal in the proceeding initiated by Broadcasting Notice of Public Hearing CRTC 2007-10.
You are invited to provide your comments, either orally or in writing, at the public hearing with respect to this proposal. A public notice will be issued shortly to inform all other interested parties that this issue will be discussed at the hearing.
Associate Executive Director,
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