ARCHIVED - Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2009-661

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Additional Reference : 2009-661-1, 2009-661-2, 2009-661-3, 2009-661-4, 2009-661-5, 2009-661-6 and 2009-661-7


Ottawa, 22 October 2009


Notice of hearing

26 April 2010
National Capital Region
Review of community television policy framework
Deadline for submission of interventions/comments: 1 February 2010

Broadcasting interventions/comments form

The Commission hereby initiates a public proceeding to review its policies for community television.

As part of this proceeding, the Commission will hold a hearing commencing on 26 April 2010 at 9:00 a.m. at the Conference Centre, Phase IV, 140 Promenade du Portage, Gatineau, Quebec.

In this document, the Commission summarizes its regulatory frameworks for community television and sets out various questions for parties to address in their comments. The questions have been numbered and the Commission requests that parties identify the questions to which they are responding in their submissions. While the Commission has identified a number of issues and a broad scope for this review, parties may raise other issues and concerns.

The notice also sets out the procedures for filing comments. The Commission encourages interested parties to monitor the public examination file and the Commission’s website for additional information that they may find useful when preparing their comments.

Although the hearing will be held in the National Capital Region, parties may participate from the Commission’s regional offices via videoconferencing. Parties interested in doing so are asked to indicate the regional office where they wish to appear at the time they file their comments. A list of the Commission’s regional offices is included in this notice.


  1. In 2001, the Commission conducted a major review of its community-based media policies. The objectives of that review were detailed in Public Notice 2001-19. The Commission was seeking to revise its policies in conjunction with the development of both a new licensing framework for low-power community-based television undertakings in urban areas and smaller communities and an integrated policy approach to community-oriented programming undertakings.

  2. Based on comments received during that review, the Commission formulated a proposed community-based policy framework, which it issued for comment in Public Notice 2001-129.

  3. The end-result of that process was the integrated policy framework for community-based media set out in Broadcasting Public Notice 2002-61 (the 2002 community TV framework). This framework included a statement replacing Broadcasting Public Notice 1991-59.

  4. Section 3(1)(b) of the Broadcasting Act (the Act) establishes "community" alongside "public" and "private" as one of the three elements of the Canadian broadcasting system. Section 3(1)(e) states that "each element of the Canadian broadcasting system shall contribute in an appropriate manner to the creation and presentation of Canadian programming." Section 3(1)(i)(iii) states that the programming provided by the Canadian broadcasting system should include community programs.

  5. The Broadcasting Distribution Regulations (the BDU Regulations) define community programming as programming that is produced

(a) by the licensee in the licensed area or by members of the community served in the licensed area;

(b) by the licensee in another licensed area or by the members of the community served in that other licensed area and that is relevant to the community referred to in paragraph (a);

(c) by another licensee in a licensed area or by the members of the community served in that licensed area and that is relevant to the community referred to in paragraph (a); or

(d) by a person licensed to operate a network for the purpose of producing community programming for distribution by the licensee on a community channel.

  1. In light of the Act’s objectives, the Commission announced the following overall objectives for its 2002 community TV framework:
  • to ensure the creation and exhibition of more locally-produced, locally-reflective community programming; and
  • to foster a greater diversity of voices and alternative choices by facilitating the entrance of new participants at the local level.
  1. In order to meet these objectives, the 2002 community TV framework introduced quantified requirements for community channels operated by broadcasting distribution undertakings (BDUs) and established two new classes of licences for independently-operated community-based television services.

  2. BDU-operated community channels are thus required to devote not less than 60% of the programming aired during each broadcast week to the broadcast of local community television programming, defined as programming that is reflective of the community and that is produced by the licensee in the licensed area or by members of the community from the licensed area. Programs produced in another licensed area within the same municipality are also considered local community television programming.

  3. BDU-operated community channels are also required to devote at least 30 to 50% of the programming aired during each broadcast week to the broadcast of access programs, defined as programs produced by members of the community served by the undertaking, either assisted or unassisted by the licensee.

  4. Moreover, where there are one or more local not-for-profit community television corporations (TV corporations) in a given licensed area, up to 20% of the access programming aired during each broadcast week by BDU-operated community channels must be made available for access programs from these TV corporations. Where more than one TV corporation is in operation in a licensed area, each corporation must be guaranteed a minimum of four hours of access programs per broadcast week.

  5. According to the Commission’s Communications Monitoring Report 2009, BDUs reported community channel programming expenditures in 2008 totalling $116 million. These expenditures were directed to 139 community channels authorized to broadcast in Canada. Of these, 91 were English-language and 48 were French-language channels.

  6. As mentioned above, the 2002 community TV framework also sought to encourage the provision of other forms of community programming in addition to the BDU-operated community channel model through the establishment of new classes of licence.

  7. In situations where the BDU does not choose to provide a community channel or does not operate its community channel in accordance with the provisions of Commission policy, the 2002 community TV framework provided for a new class of licence to operate a community programming undertaking. In such a case, a BDU licensee must direct the entire amount of its contribution to Canadian expression earmarked for a community channel to this independent community programming undertaking and must also distribute it as part of the basic service. A community programming undertaking is subject to the same programming requirements as are BDU-operated community channels. Licensees of community programming undertakings must be not-for-profit organizations, the structure of which provides for membership, management, operation and programming primarily by members of the community. One community programming undertaking has been licensed since the 2002 community TV framework came into effect.

  8. In the framework, the Commission also created a new class of licence to operate community-based television programming undertakings and established a regulatory framework for their licensing. This regulatory framework includes two subcategories: community-based low-power television undertakings and community-based digital undertakings. These undertakings may be operated on a not-for-profit or for-profit basis and must be distributed by BDUs on a digital basis. The objective is to provide a high level of locally produced and locally reflective programming that complements the programming provided by conventional television and the BDU-operated community channel. Such services should enrich the variety of local and community-based television programming available to the public, as well as provide opportunities for new voices to participate in the Canadian broadcasting system. Since the 2002 community TV framework came into effect, three community-based low-power television undertakings have been licensed.

  9. In Broadcasting Public Notice 2008-4 (the Diversity of Voices Policy), the Commission stated its intention to review its policies with respect to community-based media. The Commission added that the objective of this review would be to ensure that the Commission’s regulatory policy supports the development of a healthy community broadcasting sector.

  10. In the Diversity of Voices Policy, the Commission made several observations regarding the state of community-based television services. It noted that although campus and community radio, in both official languages, is reasonably widespread, community-based television operations do not yet occupy a significant place in the system. Cable community channels remain an important component of the system but, increasingly, they have a regional rather than a local focus.

  11. The Commission also observed that despite the declining cost of television production equipment and the cost-effectiveness of new technologies for the distribution of community programming, stable funding to allow for the production of quality community programming remains a significant issue. These observations led the Commission to announce its intention to review the 2002 community TV framework.

  12. Accordingly, based on these above-noted observations, the Commission is now undertaking a review of the following issues:

    I. Objectives of the 2002 community TV framework

    II. Access programming

    III. Funding of community programming

    IV. New technologies

    V. Other matters

I. Objectives of the 2002 community TV framework

  1. Given that the Commission generally reviews its policies within a five-year cycle, the Commission seeks comments on general questions relating to the objectives of the 2002 community TV framework, as well as questions specifically relating to the different models of community television, i.e. the BDU-operated community channels and the independently-operated community-based television services. With respect to these different models, one of the intentions of the 2002 community TV framework was to introduce specific mechanisms, such as quantified requirements and new classes of licence, in order to achieve the framework’s general objectives. In light of changes to the media environment since 2002 as well as other factors, the Commission has set out below questions concerning the achievement of the framework’s objectives via these mechanisms. The Commission considers that it is also appropriate at this time to reconsider whether authorizing direct-to-home (DTH) satellite distribution undertakings to operate community channels would contribute to the achievement of its objectives for community television.

(a) General objectives

  1. As noted in paragraph 6 above, ensuring the creation and exhibition of more local community programming and fostering a greater diversity of voices and alternative choices at the local level are objectives of the 2002 community TV framework. The Commission seeks comment regarding the achievement of these objectives given changes to the media environment since 2002.

Q. 1 Are the objectives of the existing policy framework being met?

Q. 2 If the objectives are not being met, what needs to be changed to help meet them?

Q. 3 Given significant changes to the media environment over the last seven years, are there reasons to revise the objectives?

Q. 4 Is it necessary to make a clearer distinction between community programming and the local programming provided by conventional television broadcasters? What are the principal distinctions?

(b) BDU-operated community channels

  1. The 2002 community TV framework states that the role of the community channel should be primarily of a public service nature, facilitating self-expression through free and open access by members of the community.

  2. According to the framework, the community channel should:

Q. 5 Are these roles and objectives still appropriate? Why or why not?

Q. 6 Are there reasons to revise the roles and objectives? If so, how?

(c) Independently-operated community-based television services

  1. As noted in paragraphs 6 and 14 above, facilitating the entrance of new participants at the local level and providing opportunities for new voices to participate in the Canadian broadcasting system are objectives of the 2002 community TV framework. Since 2002, only four new community-based television services have been licensed.

Q. 7 What are the reasons for this relatively modest take-up? Have conditions changed since 2002 so that the need for local expression is being met through other means?

Q. 8 Are changes to the policy necessary? If so, what changes? If not, why?

(d) Direct-to-home satellite services

  1. In the 2002 community TV framework, the Commission denied DTH undertakings the authorization to operate a community channel, stating that it did not consider the concept of DTH community channels to be in keeping with its proposed objectives to ensure more locally-produced and locally-reflective community programming. In Broadcasting Public Notice 2008-100, the Commission indicated that it would reconsider the question of whether DTH undertakings should be authorized to operate a community channel as part of its review of the 2002 community TV framework.

Q. 9 Have circumstances or other factors arisen that would warrant a change in the Commission’s existing position?

Q. 10 If the Commission were to authorize DTH undertakings to operate community channels, what provisions would ensure that the objectives of the community programming policy are being achieved?

Q. 11 Keeping in mind DTH capacity issues, are there alternative models to delivering community programming (i.e., an omnibus or "community of communities" channel) that the Commission should consider?

II. Access programming

  1. In the 2002 community TV framework, the Commission noted that access by citizens to the community channel has always been a cornerstone of the Commission’s policy. To underscore this principle, the Commission quoted Public Notice 1991-59, in which it stated: "The factor that most distinguishes the content of community programming from conventional television services is the ability of community programming to turn the passive viewer of television into an active participant. From this participation flows programming of a nature that is as varied as the imagination and skills of the participants." As such, in its 2002 community TV framework, the Commission indicated the following:

The Commission expects licensees to give the community the widest opportunity for self-expression by actively encouraging groups and individuals to present program ideas, produce their own programs with or without the help of the licensee’s staff, and submit videotapes and films produced by them for broadcast by the licensee.

The Commission considers that providing and encouraging citizen access remains one of the most important roles of the community channel. Further, the Commission is of the view that most large cable systems will have no difficulty in finding acceptable access programming. However, as noted by several interveners, the Commission recognizes that in smaller markets the demand for access may not be high and that, even in those markets where demand is high, citizens requesting access may not have the ability to be active participants in program production. The Commission believes that it is the responsibility of the cable operator to ensure that the views of all groups are represented.

  1. The BDU-operated community channels have quantified requirements, as well as other obligations, to facilitate citizen access and to provide access programming.

Q. 12 Are these requirements and obligations being met?

Q. 13 Are they still appropriate? Why or why not?

Q. 14 Are there reasons to revise the existing requirements and obligations? If so, how?

III. Funding of community programming

  1. The Commission considers it appropriate to review the funding of all community programming as part of this proceeding.

  2. As set out in the BDU Regulations, BDU licensees are required to contribute 5% of their gross annual revenues derived from broadcasting activities to the creation and presentation of Canadian programming. BDUs may use up to 2% of the 5% of their contribution to Canadian programming to fund the operation of a community channel. Funding for a community channel may also come from sponsorship revenue. BDU licensees, as well as the community programming undertakings, are prohibited from broadcasting commercial advertising. However, community-based television programming undertakings are self-funded through local advertising, limited to a maximum of 12 minutes per hour.

(a) Advertising

  1. In the CRTC-commissioned Review of the regulatory framework for broadcasting services in Canada, dated 31 August 2007, the authors Laurence J.E. Dunbar and Christian Leblanc raise questions regarding the Commission’s restrictions on advertising for both the BDU-operated and independently-operated community television channels. They make the following assertions:

We question the assumptions that underlie the existing restrictions on advertising on the cable-operated community channel. Advertising does not necessarily imply any particular value system or approach to programming and is not necessarily inconsistent with community access programming – no matter how radical or experimental. Community-based newspapers, for example, and many "radical" magazines – of all persuasions and viewpoints – provide regular community news, commentary and opportunities for expression, and are still supported to varying degrees by advertising dollars. They manage to survive, and sometimes prosper, while providing valuable community service and reflecting diverse voices.

The restriction on the sale of regional and national advertising on independently operated community channels is also questionable. In the commercial radio and television sectors, the Commission limits the sale of local advertising only to those stations that provide local programming. There is no reverse prohibition on the sale of national advertising. Why should there be such a restriction on community programming? Removal of these restrictions would be consistent with our general theme of trying to maximize revenue for the Canadian broadcasting system.

  1. The authors recommend "that the Commission remove the advertising restrictions and limits on community broadcasting on television" and "that the Commission monitor the development of cable community channels and third party community-based television services to determine how its new rules are working and whether removal of restrictions on regional and national advertising for independent stations stimulates more applications for community-based services."

Q. 15 Have circumstances or other factors arisen that would warrant a change in the Commission’s existing policy?

Q. 16 Should the Commission adopt the above recommendations? If so, by what means or with what safeguards? If not, why not?

Q. 17 If the Commission were to allow BDU-operated community channels to air commercial advertising, should all or a portion of the revenues be directed to the provision of community programming or towards other initiatives such as the Canada Media Fund?

(b) Local Programming Improvement Fund

  1. In Broadcasting Public Notice 2008-100, the Commission set out details relating to the Local Programming Improvement Fund (LPIF). Broadcasting Regulatory Policy 2009-406 subsequently outlined the model for the allocation of LPIF funding, appropriate contribution levels by BDUs to the LPIF, eligibility criteria for LPIF funding, expenses eligible for LPIF funding and the administration of the LPIF. The Commission determined that for the 2009-2010 broadcast year the appropriate contribution level by BDUs to the fund is 1.5% of their gross revenues.

  2. In Broadcasting Notice of Consultation 2009-411, the Commission initiated a public hearing to further review its policies related to conventional television, including the appropriate LPIF contribution by licensed BDUs and the eligibility criteria for LPIF funding. In Broadcasting Public Notice 2008-100, the Commission had also stated that it would consider whether community television broadcasters should have access to the LPIF in the context of its review of the community-based media policy framework.

Q. 18 Should the LPIF also be used to fund the production of community programming on the independently-operated community-based television services? Why or why not?

(c) BDU contributions

  1. As noted in paragraph 28, BDU licensees have the option of contributing 2% of their contribution to Canadian programming to community channels, including the community programming undertakings, for local expression. No requirement exists to allocate any of this money specifically to the production of access programming or to the community-based television programming undertakings.

Q. 19 Do BDU contribution levels remain appropriate for the operation of a community channel? Why or why not?

Q. 20 Should a proportion of the BDU contributions be directed to

(a) the production of access programming? If so, what would be the most effective means of doing this? If not, are there other funding means that may be more appropriate? and/or

(b) the production of local programming through the LPIF? Why or why not?

Q. 21 Should the community-based television programming undertakings have access to BDU contributions for local expression, as is currently the case for community channels and community programming undertakings?

IV. New technologies

  1. As part of this policy review, the Commission is interested in exploring the future of community television in the digital age, including the delivery of community programming on new platforms, such as video-on-demand (VOD) and new media, and in high definition. In the Commission’s view, changes to the media environment since the 2002 community TV framework necessitate a rethinking of how community programming is made available to Canadians.

(a) VOD

  1. The Commission has approved applications by BDUs to provide an outlet for local expression on their VOD services. These include Saskatchewan Telecommunications (Broadcasting Decision 2006-490), MTS Allstream Inc. (Broadcasting Decision 2007-86) and Telus Communications Inc. (Broadcasting Decision 2008-135). It is generally accepted that part of local expression must include community programming.

Q. 22 Is there an increasing role or a special role in the future for community programming available on demand? Is there a role for VOD-only community programming?

Q. 23 Are there benefits to a VOD presence for community television? Are there consequences to having or not having such a presence? What are the challenges to establishing a community programming presence on this distribution platform?

(b) New media
  1. On 4 June 2009, the Commission issued its policy regarding Canadian broadcasting in new media in Broadcasting Regulatory Policy 2009-329. The Commission rendered its decision and maintained its new media exemption order. In so doing, as detailed in Broadcasting Notice of Consultation 2009-330, the Commission proposed reporting requirements and undue preference provisions, as well as an amended definition of a new media broadcasting undertaking. The Commission also fully endorsed the development of a national digital strategy.

  2. Following the submission of written comments in the new media proceeding but prior to the public hearing, the Commission published Broadcasting Notice of Public Hearing 2008-11-1, in which it concluded that issues regarding the special role of community broadcasters in the new media environment would be better addressed in the context of a comprehensive proceeding devoted to community media. Accordingly, the Commission seeks comment regarding the role and participation of community television broadcasters in the new media environment.

Q. 24 What challenges do community television broadcasters face with respect to their participation in new media broadcasting?

Q. 25 Are there benefits to a new media presence for community television? Are there consequences to having or not having such a presence?

Q. 26 If community channels do not have a new media presence, can Internet users obtain the same content from other sources on the web? Does the existence of the Internet as an avenue for community expression affect the need for community access to traditional television production?

Q. 27 Is there a special role for community broadcasting in the new media environment? Is there a role for Internet-only community broadcasting?

(c) Official-language minority communities

  1. In its Report to the Governor in Council on English- and French-language broadcasting services in English and French linguistic minority communities in Canada (the OLMC Report), dated 30 March 2009, the Commission stated that in order to fully understand the role that community television services can or must play in official-language minority communities (OLMCs) to reflect the realities, needs and concerns of those communities in programming provided by these television services and in the Canadian broadcasting system, it would examine the issue as part of its community television policy review.

  2. In the OLMC Report, the Commission also made the following observation: "The Commission regrets that, although all parties are calling for broadband Internet access, community broadcasters are not more open to the broadcasting opportunities offered by new media. The Commission believes that to bring together all Canadians from their local communities, it is important that broadcasting content that represents them be available via new media. It is therefore essential that broadcasters, including community radio and television broadcasters, adopt new media technology to broadcast their content."

Q. 28 What are the reasons for the lack of openness (e.g., demographic, generational, economic) regarding opportunities for community broadcasting in new media?

Q. 29 What is the role of community television in the OLMCs and what should that role be?

Q. 30 What role can community programming play in reflecting the realities, needs and concerns of OLMCs?

Q. 31 How can the Commission encourage and ensure the availability of community programming to and by OLMCs?

(d) High-definition content

  1. The Commission notes that Rogers Communications Inc. and Vidéotron Ltd. are moving to provide Canadians with high definition content on their community channels.

Q. 32 What steps have BDUs taken to date to produce high definition community programming? Are these steps sufficient? If not, what measures can be taken to further encourage the production of high definition community programming?

V. Other matters

  1. The Commission recognizes that the current policies for community television have not been revised in a number of years. While the Commission has identified a number of issues and a broad scope for this review, parties may raise other issues and concerns. The Commission, however, reminds parties that their comments should be limited to matters falling within the Commission’s jurisdiction and powers under the Act. Further, parties should discuss such matters in the context of the various cultural, economic, social and technological policy objectives set out in the Act.

VI. Public participation

  1. The Commission invites written comments that address the issues and questions set out above. The deadline for filing written comments is 1 February 2010.

  2. Following the oral public hearing, those who filed comments may have an opportunity to file brief final written comments within ten (10) days of the completion of the hearing.

  3. The Commission cannot be held responsible for postal delays and will not notify a party whose submission is received after the above-noted deadlines. The submission will not be considered by the Commission and will not be part of the public file.

  4. Parties wishing to appear at the public hearing, either in person or by video conference from one of the Commission’s regional offices, must state their request on the first page of their written submissions. Parties requesting appearance must provide clear reasons, on the first page of their submissions, as to why the written submission is not sufficient and why an appearance is necessary. The Commission will subsequently inform parties whether their request to appear has been granted. While submissions will not otherwise be acknowledged, they will be considered by the Commission and will form part of the public record of the proceeding, provided the procedures set out herein have been followed.

Procedures for filing comments

  1. Interested parties can file their comments to the Secretary General of the Commission:

by using the

Broadcasting interventions/comments form


by mail to

CRTC, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N2


by fax at


  1. Submissions longer than five pages should include a summary.

  2. Where the intervention is filed by electronic means, the line ***End of document*** should be entered following the last paragraph of the document, as an indication that the document has not been damaged during electronic transmission.

  3. Each paragraph of the document should be numbered.

Important notice

  1. Note that all information that parties provide as part of this public process, except information granted confidentiality, whether sent by postal mail, facsimile, e-mail or through the Commission’s website at, becomes part of a publicly accessible file and will be posted on the Commission’s website. This information includes personal information, such as full names, e-mail addresses, postal/street addresses, telephone and facsimile numbers, and any other personal information parties provide.

  2. The personal information that parties provide will be used and may be disclosed for the purpose for which the information was obtained or compiled by the Commission, or for a use consistent with that purpose.

  3. Documents received electronically or otherwise will be put on the Commission’s website in their entirety exactly as received, including any personal information contained therein, in the official language and format in which they are received. Documents not received electronically will be available in PDF format.

  4. Please note that the information that parties provide to the Commission as part of this public process is entered into an unsearchable database dedicated to this specific public process. This database is accessible only from the web page of this particular public process. As a result, a general search of our website with the help of either our own search engine or a third-party search engine will not provide access to the information that was provided as part of this public process.

  5. The Commission encourages interested parties to monitor the public examination file and the Commission’s website for additional information that they may find useful when preparing their comments.

Examination of documents

  1. A list of all comments will also be available on the Commission’s website. An electronic version of all interventions/comments submitted will be accessible from this list. To access the list, select "Lists of interventions/comments" under "Public Proceedings" from the Commission's website.

  2. Documents are also available during normal office hours at the local address provided in this notice and at the Commission offices and documentation centres directly involved with these applications, or, upon request, within two working days, at any other Commission offices and documentation centres.

Location of Commission offices

Toll-free telephone: 1-877-249-2782
Toll-free TDD: 1-877-909-2782

Les Terrasses de la Chaudière
Central Building
1 Promenade du Portage, Room 206
Gatineau, Quebec
J8X 4B1
Tel.: 819-997-2429
Fax: 819-994-0218

Regional offices

Metropolitan Place
99 Wyse Road
Suite 1410
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
B3A 4S5
Tel.: 902-426-7997
Fax: 902-426-2721

205 Viger Avenue West
Suite 504
Montréal, Quebec
H2Z 1G2
Tel.: 514-283-6607

55 St. Clair Avenue East
Suite 624
Toronto, Ontario
M4T 1M2
Tel.: 416-952-9096

Kensington Building
275 Portage Avenue
Suite 1810
Winnipeg, Manitoba
R3B 2B3
Tel.: 204-983-6306
TDD: 204-983-8274
Fax: 204-983-6317

2220 – 12th Avenue,
Room 620
Regina, Saskatchewan
S4P 0M8
Tel.: 306-780-3422

10405 Jasper Avenue
Suite 520
Edmonton, Alberta
T5J 3N4
Tel.: 780-495-3224

530-580 Hornby Street
Vancouver, British Columbia
V6C 3B6
Tel.: 604-666-2111
TDD: 604-666-0778
Fax: 604-666-8322

Secretary General

Related documents

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