This outline of significant events in Canadian broadcasting attempts to set out the major statutory, regulatory, policy and legal landmarks since the first radio signals were received in Newfoundland in 1901. It was edited and updated to 31 May, 2007 by John Hylton, Q.C., Adjunct Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School at York University, Toronto, assisted initially by Vera Pavri-Garcia, PhD, University of Toronto, and has subseqwuenrtly been maintaioned by writers whose names appoear below.
The authors obtained most of their materials for this project from the sources listed at the end, all of which serve as excellent references for those wishing to do further research and study on the history of Canadian broadcasting regulation:
Reginald Fessenden broadcasts first spoken words ever transmitted by wireless.
The first transatlantic radio signals are transmitted from England to Newfoundland.
The first Canadian wireless telegraphy station is set up in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia.
The Canadian Government passes the Wireless Telegraph Act, which requires anyone conducting wireless telegraphy to obtain a licence from the Minister of the Department of Fisheries; this is first indication that Federal authorities will have jurisdiction over new communications technologies.
The Canadian government passes the Radiotelegraph Act which extends the Wireless Telegraph Act to include voice transmission and eventual sound broadcasting.
The Marconi Wireless company is granted a licence in Canada and becomes the country’s first commercial broadcaster. The station is located in Montreal and has the call letters XWA, which are later changed to CFCF.
Canada has its first radio broadcast.
The Canadian government begins to grant licences to private commercial radio stations.
CN Railways starts offering radio service on its trains, and one year later opens its own radio stations.
The Canadian Association of Broadcasters is formed to represent and advance commercial broadcast interests in the country.
From 1920-1927, the Dept. of Marine and Fisheries has issued 75 licences for private broadcasting stations, with at least one in every province. The first “public” broadcast undertakings begin in Manitoba when the province starts operating its own stations, and in Alberta, when the University of Alberta is given funding by the province to operate an educational radio station.
Ottawa signs International Radio-Telegraph Convention, again signalling federal jurisdiction in area.
The first national broadcast airs in Canada, in part to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Confederation.
After the first national radio network is created in Canada by Canadian National Railways, consisting of three CNR stations and a dozen private stations, greater involvement by the Canadian government appears necessary because of several ongoing concerns including: a) poor reception and interference from US and Mexican stations; b) limited facilities in less populated areas of country; c) too much reliance on American program content.
In March, the Dept. of Marine and Fisheries decides not to renew the licences of stations with ties to the International Bible Students’ Association; this leads to extensive debates in Parliament about changes to broadcasting policy, where it is proposed that Canada should follow Britain’s lead and develop its own national broadcasting policy.
In June, Parliament sets up a commission of inquiry to find out about broadcasting situation in Canada and provides a budget of $25,000.
By December 6th, the Royal Commission on Radio Broadcasting is established whose task is to study US and British broadcast systems and come up with recommendations for Canada. Members include Sir John Aird, Augustin Frigon and Charles Bowman.
In April, Quebec passes its own Broadcasting Act designed to implement a provincially owned broadcasting station; however, no provincial station is built at this time.
By July, the Royal Commission finishes its report; however, two major problems prevent the report from being published: a) a resolution about Quebec’s special needs and b) clashes between the commissioners about the extent of provincial involvement in broadcasting.
On September 11th, the Royal Commission on Radio Broadcasting finally submits its report (also called the Aird Report), and all agree that “Canadian radio listeners want Canadian broadcasting.” They state that, “broadcasting should be placed on a basis of public service and that the stations providing a service of this kind should be owned and operated by one national company; that provincial authorities should have full control over the programs of the station or stations in their respective areas.” The Commission therefore emphasizes the idea of broadcasting as a “public service,” which is consistent with the position taken by European governments at the time, and recommends that Canada establish a national broadcasting company that will produce programs of “high standard.” It also advocates setting up a chain of high power stations which will be funded by revenues from receiver licence fees, advertising sales and government money.
In July, a change in government (from Liberal to Conservative) stalls any movement on the Aird Report. In addition, Quebec and New Brunswick continue to remain skeptical about federal jurisdiction in the area and there are growing concerns about ownership issues. This results in the formation of a number of lobby groups including the Canadian Radio League, established in October by Alan Plaunt and Graham Spry. This group favors the idea of broadcasting as a public service and rejects a US based system characterized by commercialism and free enterprise. As such, they are in favor of the Aird report’s recommendations and use nationalist rhetoric to mould public opinion in their favor: “Canadian radio is for Canadians.” In contrast, the private sector lobby is led by groups such as the Canadian Association of Broadcasters and Canadian Pacific Railways.
The private broadcasters’ lobby proposes the creation of two networks: one sponsored by the government which will focus on educational and cultural programming, and another network which will rely on commercial sponsorship. They are heavily criticized by public lobby groups who argue that this will result in an unequal distribution of profits that favours private broadcasters.
By February, Quebec continues to oppose federal jurisdiction and introduces its own Radio Act designed to deal with issues related to the licensing of transmitters and receivers. On February 18th, the Federal Government decides to have the Supreme Court of Canada resolve the issue of federal versus provincial jurisdiction pertaining to the regulation and control of radio communications. Arguments in favor of provinces are based on the notion that broadcasting is “property and civil rights.” In contrast, federal jurisdiction is based on idea that broadcasting, like transport is an “extra provincial” undertaking
On June 30th, the Supreme Court rules (3 to 2) in favor of the federal government, ands cites section 92(10)(a) of the BNA Act which states that Ottawa has the power to control all undertakings that connect the provinces or go beyond provincial boundaries (i.e. telegraph lines). Following this defeat, the Quebec government appeals this decision to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London. (See below,1932).
The first in-house test television transmission in Canada takes place in Montreal using facilities owned by La Presse and CKAC, and having the callsign VE9EC. During the same year Ted Rogers Sr. is given a licence to begin experimental television broadcasts in Toronto.
The Privy Council in London affirms the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Re Regulation and control of Radio communication in Canada (Radio Reference)  A.C. 304 (February 19, 1932) and rules in favour of the federal government, stating it has the authority to legislate for the “peace, order and good government of Canada” in areas that are not specifically covered in the BNA Act and has jurisdiction to regulate and control radio communication. Prime Minister Bennett then sets up a parliamentary committee to hold hearings to determine the major problems facing Canadian broadcasters and make subsequent recommendations.
In March and April, the Special Committee on Radio Broadcasting hears from a number of witnesses who argue about federal versus provincial control as well as private versus public broadcasting.
In May, the Committee reports to Parliament and presents a short report that stresses the importance of radio broadcasting for national needs related to educational, social and cultural development. They suggest the development of a new public broadcasting system that will include: a) nationally owned high-powered stations and b) secondary low-powered stations to be used for community, educational and experimental purposes. This new system will receive revenue from both advertising and licensing fees. It will be run by a three-person commission (as well as provincially appointed assistant commissioners) that will have the authority to regulate all aspects of this new system.
On May 26th, the Bennett government passes the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Act which is based in large part on the Radio Broadcasting Committee’s recommendations. This Act creates Canada’s first broadcasting regulatory body, the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission (CRBC), which is to regulate and control all Canadian broadcasting as well as establish a national service. In his speech, Bennett stresses the idea of complete Canadian control over broadcasting as well the benefits of public versus private ownership. The Act also states that the air is a public asset and that the government has a role to play in monitoring its use.
Amendments are made to the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Act which give the CRBC more authority over hiring decisions, revenue spending and station purchases by making them accountable to Cabinet as opposed to Parliament. One of their first major decisions is to place a 40% limit on foreign programs.
In May, the CRBC, chaired by Hector Charlesworth, begins national broadcasts for one hour each night. When the Board starts airing French language programming, there are protests, especially from individuals in the Maritimes, Western Canada and Ontario. Demonstrations also happen in Toronto protesting French language radio. During this year the CRBC also acquires CN’s radio facilities.
As a result of controversy surrounding French language programming, the CRBC begins to have separate French programming unique to Quebec.
In March, a special parliamentary committee is set up to review CRBC operations. At the time, the CRBC is facing considerable competition from private broadcasters and has not yet received funds to establish itself as pre-eminent national broadcaster in Canada. By June, a special committee suggests providing more funds to the CRBC and streamlining its administrative system to help further their mandate.
The CRBC again faces controversy during the 1935 federal elections when it is accused of being partisan in favour of the Conservatives after a series of unidentified paid political advertisements are broadcast.
The New Liberal government is led by PM Mackenzie King who appoints C.D. Howe as the Minister responsible for broadcasting. In March, they set up a new parliamentary committee on radio broadcasting that looks into the overall performance of the CRBC.
On May 26th, the committee tables its report which reiterates much of the original Aird Report. It advocates: a) the creation of a national corporation to oversee public broadcasting; b) making this corporation the regulatory authority over broadcasting, and c) greater co-operation between this new public corporation and private radio stations
In June, Howe introduces new legislation to create a new broadcasting agency and dissolve the CRBC. The Canadian Broadcasting Act becomes law on June 23rd and creates the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, whose mandate is to establish “a national broadcasting service.” The CBC becomes the pre-eminent radio broadcaster in Canada and has considerable regulatory powers. For example, the CBC is in charge of license renewals and private station set-ups and mergers. It is also responsible for producing and broadcasting programs. Its first General Manager is Gladstone Murray.
The CBC bans the broadcasting of “abusive” comments on issues relating to race and religion. It also starts up a French-language station in Montreal.
Canada signs onto the North American Regional Broadcasting Agreement (Havana Treaty), giving it a total of six high power (or clear) channels, 33 regional channels and six local channels. The agreement is not ratified until 1941.
CBC’s programming separates both English and French language services
First controversy arises between CBC and private broadcasters when CBC begins acquiring US and commercial programs. Private broadcasters protest the fact that the CBC has an unfair advantage over them and that it should stick to public service radio.
A Parliamentary committee is convened to review performance of CBC. At this time, questions remain about the relationship between the CBC and private stations in its new “network,” and whether the CBC should compete with private broadcasters for national advertising. The CBC reiterates it is a national service and labels its competitors “community” services that serve a particular function. Thus “public” broadcasting becomes distinguished from private “community” broadcasting.
In anticipation of war, on May 10th the 1913 Radiotelegraph Act is replaced with a new Radio Act that will allow the governor-in-council additional powers including the “censorship and controlling of radio messages in case of actual €war, rebellion, riot or other emergency.”
Guidelines for controversial programming are drafted in a White Paper which will serve as guiding principles until the 1960s.
The CBC refuses to allow a broadcast of editorial messages by Globe and Mail publisher, George McCullagh on its network or other private stations, arguing that “the possession of wealth does not confer the right to use network broadcasting to influence opinion.”
Advent of World War II sees beginning of what will be six years of coverage of the war by CBC correspondents in London and all theatres where Canadians are fighting.
With WW II, CBC suspends paid political and controversial broadcasting on its stations with the exception of election advertising. In English Canada, censorship is mostly aimed at the pro-Communist press while in French Canada, it centers on Canada’s role in the war itself. This causes controversy between those who want the CBC to play a neutral or objective role in war versus those who believe it should serve to strengthen national unity; one way to achieve greater nationalism includes the extension of French language services across the country.
The first FM radio station begins airing it Toronto. Its call letters are CFRB-FM.
In June, as part of the Department of National War Services’ effort to coordinate government public information services, the CBC and National Film Board officially become part of the government’s war effort. The CBC also creates a bilingual national news service.
The CBC creates a second English national network called the Dominion Network to help keep up with increased programming demands. It closes in 1962.
In January, controversy erupts when the federal government introduces a plebiscite around the issue of conscription, and anti-conscriptionists in Quebec start using commercial radio as a way of sending out their messages. The CBC is brought into the issue and decides in April that only the four political parties will have use of air time. As such, all other groups are limited to buying advertising on private stations.
In May, a new parliamentary committee on radio broadcasting is set up and their report, while generally positive, expresses some concern about the way the CBC has executed its policies. The report also reaffirms the idea that the CBC can play an important role in wartime as a means of strengthening national unity and mobilizing troops.
The Canadian Association of Broadcasters wants a formula to price advertising airtime and asks the Association of Canadian Advertisers and the Canadian Association for Advertising Agencies for their help. This results in the Bureau of Broadcast Measurement (BBM).
On May 7th, another parliamentary committee is created to deal with the issue of the CBC and its relationships with private radio stations. The report reaffirms that the CBC and private broadcasters share a cooperative relationship whereby the CBC provides programs for all Canadians whereas private broadcasters cater to the needs of local communities.
Diefenbaker argues that the CBC needs to be restructured, and suggests that it should not be responsible for regulating its competition. He also recommends limiting the revenues the CBC receives from advertising and creating a separate regulatory body to oversee both the CBC and private broadcasters. While nothing is done at this time, Diefenbaker’s suggestions will be crystallized in the Broadcasting Act of 1958.
The Canadian Association of Broadcasters is concerned about lagging behind the US in terms of experimenting with a new technology, television.
In February, Maurice Duplessis, leader of the Quebec provincial government, tables legislation to allow for the creation of a provincial broadcasting service, stating it has the constitutional authority to create a broadcasting organization. The Bill is passed on April 20th, creating the Quebec Radio Bureau which will establish Radio-Quebec.
In the United States, the FCC begins licensing commercial television.
In response to Quebec’s new law as well as suggestions from the Alberta and Saskatchewan governments that they would like to get into provincial broadcasting, Minister C.D.Howe states the government has decided to prohibit the issuing of broadcast licences to other governments or corporations owned by governments. Effectively, this negates the Quebec legislation and prevents all provincial governments from owning radio stations. At this time, Manitoba also sells off its two radio stations, effectively granting Ottawa complete control over all broadcast systems.
A new parliamentary committee is set up to deal with the issue of public and private broadcasting in Canada. Groups like the Canadian Association of Broadcasters now argue that the private stations are in fact members of an independently owned system, whereas the CBC is a government owned system. In turn, the CBC wants complete control over all six high power channels, two of which are currently occupied by the private broadcasters. One such broadcaster is CFRB. Here the CBC states that it has the legal right to issue licences and control frequencies, allowing them a victory against CFRB, but this in turn causes private broadcasters and CBC critics to suggest changing the laws themselves. Support also grows for the idea of a separate regulatory board to oversee broadcasting issues.
CBC FM stations are set up in Toronto and Montreal.
Starting with a paper entitled, “Control of Radio: An Urgent Canadian Problem,” the CAB begins a major advertising campaign designed to persuade Canadians of the need to eliminate the regulatory authority of the CBC. However, a parliamentary committee set up to look into this issue decides to retain the status quo.
The CBC develops a 15 year plan for television development in Canada. During the same year, the first electronic television broadcast is aired in Windsor which has picked up a feed from a Detroit station.
On May 17th, the CBC proposes that television should be developed similarly to radio. This includes reserving a select number of channels for a national system, banning non-Canadians from owning stations and licensing television broadcasters like radio broadcasters. Also, Canadian manufacturers begin domestic production of television sets.
In November the Board of Governors must deal with six private applications for television licences, including one by Famous Players, a US based company. It defers judgment on these applications until a greater level of cooperation is assured between private and public broadcasters.
On January 20th, the CBC produces a confidential document outlining its position on television which includes the following statement: “we believe that if soundly developed in line with Canadian needs and conditions, television broadcasting can greatly stimulate and enrich the national life of Canada.” Along with suggesting that television can help strengthen national unity, the report also warns against the potential threat of US programming that could saturate the nation if no regulations are set in place. The CBC suggests setting up stations in Montreal and Toronto and then slowly introducing coverage elsewhere on a step by step basis. Television would be funded via licensing fees and commercial revenues.
In March, the federal government issues its first policy statement on television which suggests that the greatest benefit of television lies in the programming content. It then advocates an “interim plan” whereby the CBC oversees the general direction of television broadcasting in Canada including the licensing, networking and distribution of programs.
In April, the new PM Louis St. Laurent (Liberal) creates the Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters and Sciences (chaired by Vincent Massey), which is to make recommendations concerning “the principles upon which the policy of Canada should be based, in the fields of radio and television broadcasting.”
A Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters and Sciences is created. Chaired by Vincent Massey, its mandate is to study radio and television broadcasting in Canada.
From 1949-1950, the Massey Commission holds public hearings and is presented with over four hundred submissions by various groups and individuals. The positions include a) those who advocate a more public broadcasting system; b) those who feel that broadcasting was essential to the state and national interests, and c) those who argue for a more free market system that will favour private broadcasters.
The Massey Commission tables its report. It recommends greater state involvement in nurturing cultural and intellectual programming and notes that because the radio spectrum is a public domain, it should continue to be controlled by the state. The commission also rejects the idea of an independent regulatory authority for all Canadian broadcasters. However, it does state that the services of private broadcasters are, like the CBC, good for the national interest and part of a “single system” of broadcasting. The commission also states that one major problem, the financial situation of the CBC, can be resolved by giving the Corporation more funds via a statutory grant. Regarding TV, the Massey Commission states it wants a system designed to serve “Canadian needs” and suggests that no private broadcasters be given licences until the CBC starts its own programming – effectively granting control of TV to the CBC. However, they also propose that Canadians adopt the technical television standards of the United States. This then allows Canadian households to pick up US broadcasting signals in addition to Canadian ones.
In accordance with the Massey Commission suggestions, the Broadcasting Act is amended so that the CBC can receive a statutory grant for five years.
Debates continue between advocates of private versus public television broadcasting in Canada. In September, the CBC begins television broadcasts in Montreal (CBFT) and Toronto (CBLT). In November, the federal government announces plans for more stations in Halifax, Winnipeg, Vancouver and Ottawa, and states that it will grant licences to private broadcasters who wish to serve regions not covered by the CBC.
The first Canadian cable system begins operations in London, Ontario.
In January, the appointed Standing Committee on Broadcasting meets to discuss radio and television issues. In February, it suggests financing CBC television by implementing a 15% excise tax on television sets and tubes and creating a similar tax for radio. It eliminates receiver licence fees.
In March, the government further clarifies its policies for television, stating that it will eventually allow private stations access to markets served by CBC once the system is established. They also promise the private broadcasters that the CBC will not be able to compete in their areas unless it is demonstrable that an area can support two stations.
In May, The Standing Committee presents its report and for the first time, does not dismiss outright the idea of an independent regulatory body for broadcasting.
The first private Canadian television station begins airing programs in Sudbury, Ontario, while Bell Canada finishes constructing a microwave link between Buffalo and Toronto, allowing for television programming to be exchanged.
By June, the television landscape in Canada is as follows: seven CBC stations operating or close to starting; four private stations, and 16 more private stations authorized to begin services.
Canadian Admiral Corp. Ltd. v. Rediffussion Inc.  Ex. C.R. 382 (May 21, 1954). A cable TV system in Montreal redistributed football games to subscribers and in its showroom. The court held that live telecasts were not subject to copyright. Films on cable to homes were not “in public” but were subject to copyright fees in the showroom. There were no communications by radio communication over the air as they were distributed by coaxial cable.
Private broadcasting interests continue to advocate the idea of an independent regulatory body. In addition, they want permission to install second stations in CBC markets. These views are increasingly gaining recognition within the federal government; however in June the Standing Committee on Broadcasting submits a report that retains the status quo.
In December, the federal Liberal government creates a Royal Commission on Broadcasting, which is chaired by Robert Fowler. Its mandate is to create a comprehensive television broadcasting policy that addresses the following concerns: a) levels of Canadian programming on both public and private stations; b) licensing/control of private stations and c) CBC financial and managerial issues.
On April 30th, the Fowler Commission begins public hearings. The CBC continues to equate public broadcasting with national interests, while the Canadian Association of Broadcasters argues that the Broadcast Act requires the CBC to provide national service, which is not the same thing as having a national system.
The Department of Transport comes up with a policy for licensing community antenna television systems and sends it to the CBC.
On March 15th, the Fowler Commission releases its report. The report states that while the purpose of broadcasting is to educate, inform and entertain the public, a fourth goal is added: selling goods. However, the Commission also warns that a broadcaster who does too much of one and not enough of the other is not a good broadcaster. In addition, the Commission acknowledges several important things: a) that the Canadian broadcasting system is a “single broadcasting system” that contains a mix of both private and public components; b) that the CBC is not solely responsible for providing radio and television services to Canadians and c) that private stations while autonomous, still must be held accountable for their actions. In terms of recommendations, the Fowler Commission agrees that an independent regulatory agency should be created that will represent the public interest and report back to Parliament. This new board will be responsible for directing and supervising both private and public broadcasting elements, effectively balancing the relationship between the two for the first time. The Fowler Commission proposes that while this new Board of Broadcast Governors should be given supervisory powers, operating procedures will remain in the hands of the CBC. Finally, in terms of financial considerations, the Commission recommends a 20% cap on foreign ownership of private stations, and suggests that Parliament continue to control policy decisions of the CBC by approving a five year budget that will then allow the CBC to have some independence in its day to day operations.
The National Community Antenna Association (later called the Canadian Cable Television Association in 1968) is created.
Led by John Diefenbaker, the Conservatives obtain a majority government in parliament.
On August 18th, the Conservative government introduces a new Broadcasting Act that includes a plan to re-establish the role of the CBC as well as to create a new regulatory body called the Board of Broadcast Governors. This means that the main method of public intervention in broadcasting will now be done via regulation. This legislation also affirms that while the CBC operates a national service, the BBG is in charge of the national system. As such, the CBC must report to both its Minister and the BBG, private and public broadcasting services are seen as equal, and a 25% limit is placed on foreign ownership.
In November, the Board of Broadcast Governors is created. Its first chair is Andrew Stewart.
The first coast to coast live television transmission is broadcast.
In December, television producers at Radio-Canada in Montreal go on strike, effectively stopping the broadcast of French language programming. In their fight for the right to unionize, this strike exacerbates French-English tensions as English Canada is generally unsympathetic to the strikers’ demands at this time. While the strike is finally settled on March 7, 1959, many French Canadians increasingly feel alienated and this period marks the beginning of the Quebecois movement.
In June, the CBC cancels a program called “Preview Commentary” amid suggestions that this is due to Government pressure. This decision angers CBC employees, and 12 people resign. After some discussion in Parliament, the decision is reversed on June 24th .
The BBG begins accepting applications for second television stations to be built in markets served only by the CBC.
The Department of Transport continues with its policy on licensing community antenna television systems and asks the BBG for advice about what this means for television broadcasting.
On May 20th, the government sets up a special committee on broadcasting that is asked to review the performance of the BBG, CBC and private sectors. The report is produced in June, but only focuses on the CBC’s news division. Related questions pertaining to access, representation, balance and fairness are also addressed.
In July, the BBG introduces new “Canadian content” rules (est. in 1959) requiring 45% Canadian content on TV by April 1, 1961 and 55% by April 1, 1962. The definition of a Canadian program at this time means any program made by a licensee, any production made in Canada, or a broadcast taking place outside Canada where Canadians are involved or have a special interest. In addition, programs produced in the Commonwealth or French-language countries also receive some credit.
The BBG approves 8 private licences that will allow second television stations to appear in many of Canada’s major centers.
Northern communities receive their first broadcasts via short wave radio when CBC begins its Northern service.
Yet another Special Committee on Broadcasting is formed. The committee reaffirms the equality between private and public broadcasters, but also states that while private broadcasters should be given some financial protection, they are free to program what they want. One new issue that is brought to the Committee is the growing prevalence of a new technology called community antenna television: wired systems take over-the-air programs and retransmit them to households via cable. As chair of the BBG, Dr. Stewart questions whether cable is a kind of broadcasting and other groups voice their concerns as well. For instance, CBC president Alphonse.Ouimet argues that the definition of broadcasting to be found in the Broadcasting Act should be expanded to include cable, as it presently only covers Hertzian waves. In addition, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters claims that these new “wired systems” may endanger public policy objectives relevant to broadcasting. One suggestion is to redefine the notion of broadcasting itself and change it from something associated with the transmission and control of airwaves to the actual “end effect,” whereby what really matters is the end reception of programs by households. However, such changes are also feared for their potential political ramifications. For instance, if broadcasting is redefined and based on an “end effect,” federal jurisdiction may now be questioned because such systems rarely cross provincial boundaries. With these issues in mind, the Committee suggests a reference to the Supreme Court on questions about: a) constitutional jurisdiction over cable (wired systems) and b) whether these systems can be deemed broadcasting under the Broadcasting Act.
In April, a second national television network is created, the CTV Television Network. This results in many new questions being raised about the relationship of private stations and their obligations to either the CBC and/or CTV. For example, in June, the BBG rules that any private station associated with one network needs permission from that network before they can agree to join the second network.
In January, the BBG establishes policies regarding political and controversial programming. These policies are based on a number of principles related to free speech, balance, and the importance of not having one individual or group control the airwaves. It suggests: a) “forthright discussion of all controversial questions’; b) “equal and fair presentation of all main points of view, and c) the discussion of current affairs and problems by informed, authoritative and competent speakers.”
Conflicts between the CBC and CTV continue when CTV is awarded the Grey Cup game. The BBG states that since this football game is of national interest, the CBC must also carry this game, including CTV advertising. Eventually, the CBC carries the game but without the ads.
During this year the BBG also changes its regulations to allow for more commercials to be aired, and states that between 6:00 pm and midnight, programs must have at least 40% Canadian content. It also amends television Canadian content regulations. For example, the minimum Canadian content requirements rises to 55% of broadcast hours (except in the summer, where it is reduced to 45%);
A Liberal government is elected to power. J.W. Pickersgill becomes the new Secretary of State and is responsible for broadcasting. He asks officials from the BBG, CBC and CAB to report on points of agreement and disagreement related to broadcasting policy. They ultimately agree that no further licences will be granted to companies in areas that already have television service.
Concerns over cable systems continue to grow. By this time over 200,000 households have access to cable and there are 332 operating systems in the country. However, the government is reluctant to change the definition of broadcasting at this time because of jurisdictional issues related to the control of landlines.
The Canadian government issues a temporary ban on licences to cable operators wishing to carry US television signals. This policy is in effect until July 1964.
On June 5th, A Canadian press dispatch says that both public and private broadcasters had agreed “that the possible linkage of community antenna systems into what in effect would be a closed circuit national network would pose a serious threat to them”
NDP Douglas Fisher introduces amendments to the Broadcasting Act to cover “any system operated for a profit that took out of the air Hertzian waves and rebroadcast them to wired systems in homes”
The Royal Commission on Government Organization (Glassco Commission), appointed in 1960, publishes its fourth report which suggests that the sole mandate of the CBC is to carry out a “national broadcasting service”
Newly promulgated AM Radio Regulations deal with foreign language broadcasting (“languages other than French, English, Eskimo or Canadian Indian”) SOR/ 63-130. (similar FM Regulations follow in 1964)
In March, a committee consisting of BBG and Department of Transport members suggests that one way to reassert federal jurisdiction for cable is to expand the mandate of the BBG. By extending the “objects and purposes” of the Act to include both commercial broadcasting receiving stations and stations feeding cable relay systems, the BBG can regulate these entities so that they perform in a way “consistent with the public interest in the reception of a varied and comprehensive broadcasting service.” However, at this time cable systems remain unregulated and their growth continues to depend solely on market forces.
In May, after the CBC, BBG and CAB present their reports to the government, a Special Advisory Committee on Broadcasting is created to study the Broadcasting Act and recommend changes. This committee is headed by Robert Fowler. While it has a mandate to study CBC concerns and alternative methods of broadcasting, the mandate does not include a study of cable which at the time is being done by the Department of Transport.
In July, the Minister of Transport, J.W. Pickersgill, outlines the government’s position on cable and focuses on two major issues: foreign ownership of cable systems and the potential financial harm for existing television systems facing competition from cable.
In November, the government outlines the need for a new federal cultural policy that will include coordinating all of the country’s cultural agencies including the CBC, BBG, National Film Board, National Museum, National Gallery, National Library and Public Archives. It also announces its intention to have one minister in charge of all federal cultural agencies.
The BBG begins regulating FM radio in a manner similar to AM radio.
The Fowler Committee submits its report after receiving submissions from over 55 groups including the CBC and CTV. The report states that the main issue of concern in broadcasting is programming content, and reaffirms the predominant status of the CBC by calling it an “essential” element of the broadcasting system and the most important one for developing and maintaining national unity. It also reaffirms the idea of Canadian broadcasting as a single system composed of private and public elements, designed to “inform, enlighten and entertain the Canadian people and promote their national unity.” However, the Committee emphasizes that private stations are also “public” because they receive the right to use a public asset (radio spectrum), are subject to public control, and perform a pubic service. In addition, their operations often depend on public grants, and because they use public grants, they have to be responsive to public direction. The committee also recommends setting up a new broadcasting regulatory authority to replace the “weak” BBG that would a) pay equal attention to the actions of both the CBC and private broadcasters and b) have a more transparent relationship with Parliament. Lastly, the Fowler commission comments on upcoming issues that will affect broadcasting policy including: cable regulation, colour television costs, broadcast satellites and educational broadcasting. Soon after, the government comes up with a new policy related to colour TV , and the first colour television broadcast occurs one year later.
Re Public Utilities Commission and Victoria Cablevision Ltd. et al. (1965) 51 D.L.R. 2d 716 (March 22, 1965) Cable TV systems are held to be outside of Provincial jurisdiction. Cable merely extends the range for transmitting the programs. Cable is “indivisible” and an integral part of the undertaking controlled by the Federal government.
Parliament creates a new Standing Committee to deal with broadcasting issues, called the Standing Committee on Broadcasting, Films and Assistance to the Arts. Its first chairman is Gerard Pelletier. The committee’s first order of business is to resolve a controversy related to the cancellation of a highly popular but controversial CBC public affairs program called “This Hour has Seven Days.” While an independent inquiry suggests that CBC management did not follow “due process” when cancelling the program, the Standing Committee’s final report in June is quickly forgotten with the government’s tabling of a White Paper on Broadcasting.
Pierre Juneau becomes Vice-Chairman of the BBG.
On July 4th, the federal government tables a White Paper outlining the purposes of Canadian broadcasting. It reiterates the need for a national radio and television system to help maintain Canadian identity and national unity, and reaffirms the notions of broadcasting as a public property and of Canadian broadcasting as a single system. Some other recommendations also include: a) maintaining minimum standards for public service programs for both private and public broadcasters; b) limiting ownership changes that are not in the “public interest”; c) creating regional broadcasting councils that will allow for greater public input in broadcasting; d) creating a new federal organization to license public service broadcast facilities for provinces wishing to engage in educational broadcasting; e) restructuring CBC finances to allow for a five year financing plan, f) ensuring that community antenna television systems are treated as part of the national broadcast system and g) the creation of two separate boards to regulate private and public broadcasters.
In February, the Science Secretariat releases its first report on space policy entitled, Upper Atmosphere and Space Programs in Canada (a.k.a. The Chapman Report). The report advocates shifting the country’s focus from experimental satellites to communications satellites which will be used in part to broadcast television signals. To ensure Canadian control, the committee suggests setting up a domestic satellite system.
The standing committee on Broadcasting, Films and Assistance to the Arts begins hearings related to the White Paper recommendations. Some of the major debates deal with whether Canadian broadcasting should continue to be regarded as a “single system,” or whether it is in fact composed to of two separate (public and private) systems. In addition, cable industry advocates argue that their system should not be regulated under broadcasting.
On February 7th, Alphonse Ouimet, president of CBC, goes before the committee and supports the idea of integrating cable into the broadcasting system. He explains that “from a purely technical standpoint, in years to come it may be difficult to distinguish between broadcasting and other forms of communication to the public we simply must have a broader definition of the kind of enterprise we are engaged in”.
The Standing Committee tables its report on March 21st. It calls broadcasting “the central nervous system of Canadian nationhood,” and reaffirms the public nature of broadcasting and therefore the need for broadcasters to serve the “public interest.” It also urges Parliament to define what the public interest is, and to articulate a clear national policy that confirms the pre-eminence of the public sector and that of the CBC as the main instrument of national broadcasting.
On October 17th, the federal government introduces legislation designed to establish “a statutory policy for broadcasting in Canada and to assign the responsibility for interpretation and implementation of that policy to an independent public authority.” The bill includes a mandate for the CBC, stressing its role in developing Canadian unity and national identity and posits that when there is a conflict between private and public interest objectives; those of the national broadcasting service will take precedence. The bill also seeks to create a new regulatory authority, the Canadian-Radio Television Commission, and provides the groundwork for the imminent regulation of cable by including the term “broadcasting undertaking” to include both transmitting and receiving enterprises. Finally, the Act mentions the need for more facilities for educational broadcasting. After a second reading, the bill is brought to the Standing Committee on Broadcasting, Films and Assistance to the Arts for further debate. Most of the debate revolves around whether the CBC’s mandate should include a commitment to promote national unity and whether CBC objectives should be given predominance over private service ones. In response to these concerns, the Act is amended to state that when a conflict arises between public and private objectives, those of the national broadcasting service will be given “paramount consideration.”
The Broadcasting Act is passed on Feb. 7th and becomes law on April 1st. Broadcasting is to “safeguard, enrich and strengthen the nation of Canada from sea to sea. ” As part of the new Broadcasting Act, the newly created Canadian Radio-Television Commission replaces the Board of Broadcast Governors as the agency overseeing all aspects of the Canadian broadcasting system. While the CRTC is given the responsibility to ensure that the broadcasting system remains in Canadian hands in terms of ownership and control, and that programs are to be of high quality with substantial Canadian content, one limitation placed on the CRTC is that it cannot revoke or suspend the licence of the CBC. In addition, this act defines cable as “broadcast receiving undertakings,” which means that these systems are now subject to regulatory authority for the first time.
In February, as part of a growing “Quiet Revolution” in Quebec, the provincial government prepares a brief at a constitutional conference emphasizing Quebec as a “national homeland” of French Canadians and the need for the state to play a leading role in language and cultural issues. This includes greater control over radio and television services which they argue should fall under provincial jurisdiction.
In February, a new committee is set up to study the issue of educational broadcasting, an area where jurisdictional issues once again come to the fore, recognizing that education is a provincial responsibility whereas broadcasting is a federal one. The government suggests that while the federal government provides the facilities to the provinces, production and programming will be in the hands of the provinces. In the midst of these hearings, on February 22nd, the Quebec government announces its intention of reviving the 1945 law that created Radio-Quebec. During the same year, the federal government also publishes its policy regarding ultra-high frequency (UHF) television channels, and states that educational broadcasting is to be given top priority.
On Andrew Stewart’s resignation, Pierre Juneau becomes Chairman of the BBG, and then Chairman of the newly-created Canadian Radio-Television Commission.
In March, the Department of Industry releases a White Paper on satellites entitled, A Domestic Satellite Communications system for Canada. It advocates the creation of a corporate satellite organization with government participation. The purpose of creating a satellite network in Canada is to: a) extend radio and television communications to the North and throughout Canada and b) extend French language programming throughout Canada.
Trudeau announces the creation of a new Department of Communications as part of the Government Organization Act. The DOC’s mandate is to examine the potential uses of new technologies (i.e. carriage), while the CRTC’s agenda revolves around the CBC, public and private ownership, and broadcast regulation (content). Some responsibilities of the DOC include administering the Radio Act, and overseeing the new satellite corporation, the Canadian Overseas Telecom Corporation, and the Canadian Transport Commission.
Composers, Authors and Publishers Association of Canada v. CTV  S.C.R. 676. (April 1, 1968) CAPAC claimed CTV infringed copyright by distributing “musical works” to its affiliated TV stations. Held the works were not communicated by radio within the meaning of the Copyright Act but were only a performance of the works.
The first Direction to the CRTC on Canadian Ownership, Order in Council P.C. 1968-1809 (20 September, 1968) deals with foreign ownership and imposes a 20% limit, with a broad discretion for CRTC to deem licensees non-compliant.
On March 10, a Bill to establish a Canadian Educational Broadcasting Agency which will provide technical services to the provinces and be responsible for educational broadcast licenses is introduced. It is withdrawn by November.
CRTC holds hearings March 18-20, an inquiry into the preparation of the CBC program, “Air of Death” (see July 9th 1970 for report) and reviews public affairs programming generally.
On March 24th, the government introduces legislation to create a new Canadian satellite corporation. After much debate, the Telesat Canada Act is passed on June 13th, and becomes law on June 27th. The Act creates Canada’s first domestic communication satellite system.
On March 27th, the Quebec government introduces legislation to create a Quebec Broadcasting Bureau. Part of their mandate is to prepare and promote educational broadcasts on radio and television.
The Direction on foreign ownership is amended by P.C.-1969-630 (27 March, 1969)
On April 1st, the Department of Communications is created to “promote the establishment, development, and efficiency of communication systems and facilities for Canada.”
Famous Players’ application to reorganize to comply with the Direction on Foreign Ownership is heard April 15-16 and soon after denied by CRTC. (See below for amended Direction)
In April, a Special Senate Committee on Mass Media is formed and headed by Senator Keith Davey. The committee’s mandate is to study issues of control, ownership, influence and impact of major Canadian media enterprises.
On May 13th, the CRTC makes public its views regarding cable. It calls cable undertakings “community programming” and states that these enterprises will complement and not compete with over-the-air broadcasters. The CRTC also claims that these systems will help develop “community identities” via local programming and educational services, and encourages the cable companies to become more involved in community broadcasting.
A major CRTC hearing starts on May 14 to consider new regulations for Canadian content on radio and television. CRTC is strongly challenged by the Canadian Association of Broadcasters. Its motion to adjourn the hearing is denied.
On October 16th, Radio-Quebec is established by law. It is designated to be the province’s educational broadcaster. Quebec Broadcasting Bureau Act, S.R.1969 c.17.
In September, the Department of Communications launches its Telecommission Study that will examine various aspects of communications policy issues in Canada.
Direction to the CRTC on Canadian Ownership, Order in Council P.C. 1969-2229 (November 20, 1969). Broadcast licences may only be issued to Canadians or “eligible Canadian corporations” in which 4/5 of the shares and capital are controlled by Canadians. CRTC has a broad discretion to deem corporations ineligible. (This is the third version of the initial Direction and is subsequently amended in 1971 and 1975.)
On December 3rd, the CRTC issues a public announcement regarding the extension of US television coverage in Canada via cable television entitled, “the Improvement and Development of Canadian Broadcasting and the Extension of US Television coverage in Canada by CATV” It announces its intention to regulate all aspects of cable communications, including local programming. This again raises questions about provincial versus federal jurisdiction as cable systems do not cross provincial lines and closed circuit systems are said to be subject to regulation by the provinces.
In December, the provinces and federal government continue to discuss the issue of educational broadcasting, but no provincial agency is yet authorized to hold a licence.
In December, the Quebec government introduces legislation to create a provincial Department of Communications which will be responsible for overseeing a communications policy designed for Quebecers. It is passed on December 12th.
Regarding FM broadcasting, the CRTC announces that the FM band will be “treated as a public asset with possibilities significantly different from those of AM radio
On January 15th, CRTC Chair Pierre Juneau states that regulating cable under a federal regulatory authority is in accordance with the objectives of the Broadcasting Act.
Direction to the CRTC on the Reservation of Cable Channels for Educational Broadcasting, Order in Council P.C. 1970-496 (March 19, 1970). While licences may not be issued to Provinces, this direction provides for a “provincial authority” designated by the Lieutenant Governor to provide educational programming, as defined, on a reserved cable TV channel ( See below Order in Council P.C. 1972-1569).
The Ontario Educational Communications Act, R.S.O. 1970 c.311 is passed.
On April 10th, the CRTC announces new cable licence policies in a document entitled, “Guidelines for Applicants regarding licences to carry on CATV undertakings.” One rule is that at least one channel must be reserved for educational television. TV Ontario, the province’s first educational broadcaster, begins operations the same year.
R. v. Acadian Telecommunications Co. Ltd. (New Brunswick Provincial Court, May 15, 1970). The company operated a cable system in New Brunswick without a CRTC licence, with its head-end antenna located in Calais, Maine. Held: that it operated a single, integrated system without authority.
In a May 22 public announcement, the CRTC amends Canadian content rules for television and states that before 6:00 pm, 55% of broadcasts must be filled with Canadian content, while from 6:00pm to midnight it should be at 40%. AM Radio is required to broadcast 30% Canadian music, SOR/70-256 (May 22, 1970).
On July 9th, the CRTC’s “Air of Death” report addresses balance requirements as outlined in the Broadcasting Act. According to the Act, the system should provide, “reasonable, balanced opportunity for the expression of differing views on matters of public concern.” The CRTC decides that every program does not have to describe all sides of an issue. However, controversial issues should be dealt with fairly and honestly within the total programming offered by the licensee.
In a September speech, Quebec Premier Robert Bourassa announces his government’s intention to promote “cultural sovereignty” in Quebec by giving the province a greater role in communications policy.
In response to the FLQ October crisis in Quebec, the federal government imposes the War Measures Act and prohibits all media outlets from acting as communications conduits for the FLQ. The only news that can be aired must come from approved sources.
The CRTC amends its new Canadian content rules as follows: from Oct. 1971 to Sept. 1972, all television stations that have full day programming must have 50% Canadian content. From October 1972, this becomes 50% during prime time (6 PM to midnight) and 60% overall.
Direction on foreign ownership is further amended by P.C. 1971-37 (12 January, 1971)
On January 19th, the CRTC announces publication of “Cable Television in Canada”. The text is designed to aid public awareness and is not a policy document.
The CRTC establishes Canadian content requirements for AM radio music.
Quebec’s communication minister publishes a working paper outlining a Quebecois system of communications that will suit their distinctive needs. One major component of this new policy includes establishing a communications regulatory agency in Quebec that will deal with all aspects of communications including the regulation of cable. This paper is tabled for legislation and comes under severe criticism from opponents who fear that increased centralization will lead to greater state intervention.
On February 26, the CRTC publishes a statement on cable television called “The Integration of Cable Television into the Canadian Broadcasting System.” It states that integrating these systems into the national system of broadcasting is necessary to safeguard the interests of existing broadcasters and to ensure that the overall objectives of the system are met. At this time, it also announces it will conduct public hearings on the subject.
Public hearings for cable television are scheduled for April 13, 1971
Following the CRTC hearings, the Standing Committee on Broadcasting, Films and Assistance to the Arts also holds hearings related to cable regulation. Presenters include the Canadian Cable Television Association, who argue for few regulatory rules versus private and public over-the-air broadcasters who argue that cable systems must be regulated to ensure “national unity” and to preserve Canadian programming.
Bushnell Communications applies for a cable licence and is the first private broadcaster to do so. While the CRTC rejects this initial application, it makes a policy announcement months later encouraging the integration of cable and broadcasting entities.
Special permission is made in March to facilitate the airing of “Sesame Street” by CBC affiliates.
In April, the Department of Communications publishes a report called Instant World, which summarizes their findings on the state of communications technologies in Canada.
Direction to the CRTC on Ownership by Provinces or their Agents, Order in Council P.C. 1972-1569 (July 13, 1972). Licences may not be issued to provinces but may be issued to “independent corporations” designated by the Lieutenant Governor to broadcast educational programming as defined, subject to supervision by a “provincial authority”.
In July, the CRTC publishes a comprehensive policy statement on cable television, called Canadian Broadcasting: “A Single System,” and asserts its jurisdiction by referring to the objectives of the Broadcasting Act. While stating that it wants to foster an economically healthy industry, the CRTC also notes that cable should be regulated to ensure there are no major system dislocations and that cable operators must contribute to the fundamental objectives of the Canadian broadcasting system. This includes providing its Canadian customers with: a) local Canadian stations; b) all regional Canadian stations; c) distant Canadian stations d) at least one CBC channel where available and e) one educational channel where applicable. The policy paper also mentions that cable undertakings have a great role to play in fostering local or community programming, and that they will have to financially compensate television stations if using their programs. In addition, the CRTC adopts a plan to “duplicate” programming (whereby a local feed takes precedence over a US feed showing the same program), and to substitute American commercials with Canadian ones. Finally, the CRTC contends that the production of Canadian programs lags far behind the means of distribution, and that as such, the development of a stronger Canadian program production industry was essential for system survival.
In December the CRTC announces a plan to grant licences to provinces wanting to pursue educational broadcasting. The condition is that these licences will be awarded to an independent body to act in a somewhat similar role to that of the CBC.
In February, the Quebec provincial government announces it has created its own communications policy for Quebec. This includes creating a state radio network called Radio-Quebec and a regulatory body similar to that of the CRTC. After much debate, legislation is passed by December which sees the creation of a new regulatory agency in the province. Radio-Quebec also begins operating on cable.
On March 28, the CRTC finds that, in 1970, radio station CHNS Halifax had “breached its duty to provide equitable opportunity for the expression of differing views on a matter of public concern” in an editorial critical of the local Miles For Millions charity , and announces that examining whether a broadcaster has breached his or her duty to provide balanced programming will be determined on a case by case basis.
In July, the CRTC gives Global Communications a licence to create a new regional commercial television network in Southern Ontario.
Canada’s first domestic communications satellite, Anik I, is launched. Television service to the North begins one year later.
The CRTC announces that it will receive submissions from those interested in the future development of Pay-TV.
The federal government (with Gerard Pelletier as Minister of Communications), publishes a Green Paper entitled Proposals for a Communications Policy for Canada. Generally, the paper indicates that new technological developments have blurred the boundaries between broadcasting and telecommunications, both of which fall under the general heading of “communications.” The report highlights: a) the need for a better balance between cultural aspects of communications (i.e. content) and technical capacity (carriage); b) the need for greater clarity on jurisdictional issues in communications and for a more collaborative relationship between the federal government and provinces, and c) the need for Canada to have a greater presence internationally in mass entertainment. The paper also mentions the problems associated with new technologies like cable, direct broadcast satellites and computing services. For example, since cable systems can potentially offer broadcasting and telecommunications services, the Green Paper suggests creating a “unified agency” that will have jurisdiction over both broadcasting and telecommunications. In addition, the Green Paper warns that direct broadcast satellites and computer systems should not follow the path of cable which had gone unregulated for many years before finally coming under the Broadcasting Act. In April, Pelletier releases a policy paper outlining the government’s position on computers.
The CRTC puts forth a policy proposal for FM radio on April 19, suggesting that FM should be distinct from AM. This policy effectively makes community radio a viable communications option, and paves the way for a number of “first local radio services” to open up throughout the country. At the same time, Quebec continues to pursue its own policies and begins providing special funding for community programming.
By May, the growing jurisdictional conflict between Quebec and the federal government regarding the regulation of cable has yet to be resolved. As such, Quebec cable companies are effectively being regulated by both the province and the CRTC. In August, the Quebec National Assembly’s commission on education, cultural affairs and communications meets to address the issue of regulatory guidelines for cable.
In November, a federal-provincial conference is held to discuss the Green paper proposals. While Pelletier refuses to accord Quebec “special status”, provinces like Quebec and Ontario assert that the provinces should have greater control over technologies like cable systems, citing cultural and educational considerations, and generally reject the federal government’s proposal for a single, unified policy. While no agreement is reached at the conference, the parties do agree that some kind of arrangement will be in place by 1974.
R. v. Acadian Cable TV Ltd. et al. (N.B. Prov. Ct., August 14, 1973). A cable system has its head-end antenna in the United States, connected by cable to its Canadian system and operates without a licence. The cable system is convicted on the basis that the distribution system is directly connected to the receiving undertaking.
In February, the CRTC begins hearings for renewing CBC licences. The CRTC receives briefs from over 300 parties who argue for: a) more programming for particular public audiences (i.e. regional, women, farmers, aboriginals) and b) reducing “commercial activities”. In general, these groups are critical of the CBC’s overall performance. In contrast, despite growing evidence of audience fragmentation, CBC executives continue to refer to the CBC as a network designed to serve the masses, albeit with Canadian content. In terms of financing, the CBC also continues to argue that instead of coming before the CRTC every year for financial support, it should be given a 3-5 year mandate. Lastly, there is debate about whether the CBC should air commercials.
On March 31st, the CRTC releases its decision (Radio Frequencies are Public Property) on the CBC’s licence renewal, stating that the “single and most fundamental problem facing the CBC” is the question of audience. The CRTC criticizes the CBC for its growing “commercial” mentality and states that it should not be airing programs geared solely for the masses (i.e. the largest possible audience). Instead, the Commission states that the CBC should consider its audience as “an active community of people, with real and varying communication needs.” In terms of commercials, the CRTC also tells the CBC to refrain from airing commercials on both CBC radio and children’s television programs. Next, the CRTC tells the CBC to clarify its national unity mandate. While it rejects the idea of the CBC favouring one side or another in terms of federal-provincial disputes and the like, it does see it as a necessity for ensuring Canadian unity and independence from other countries. Lastly, while the CRTC rebukes the CBC for its unwillingness to listen to new ideas, it does approve the network’s plan to extend its services throughout Canada.
Global TV goes on the air, and the CRTC eases financial burdens on Global Communications to keep the company afloat.
Regina v. Communicomp Data Ltd. (1974) 6 O.R. (2d) 680 (June 10, 1974). The accused operated a cable service without a licence. Held that it carried on a “broadcasting receiving undertaking” which was subject to federal jurisdiction.
In October, the newly elected Liberal Government proposes legislation to combine the regulatory functions of the CRTC (broadcasting) with those of the Canadian Transport Commission (telecommunications). This new approach is adopted in part because of technologies like cable, which contain characteristics of both broadcasting and telecommunications.
In November, the conflict over cable heats up when both the CRTC and Quebec Regie grant licenses to two different applicants for operations in the lower St. Lawrence region. The Dionne case will go to the Supreme Court of Canada. (See below for 1977 S.C.C. decision.)
On January 20, the CRTC announces its new policies related to FM Radio in Canada. It prohibits simultaneous broadcasts, and develops numerous content categories to which licensees must adhere. It will “by condition of licence require FM stations to adhere to a promise of performance in which they commit to broadcast specific percentages of different types of programming.” The implementation of these policies will eventually be delayed, and by July, the CRTC decides to allow some simulcasts.
On February 17th, the CRTC announces a series of cable regulations including certain services that cable operators must offer including one community channel. It claims that “cable has to takes its responsibility as a technologically and financially mature member of the Canadian broadcasting system”
By April, the CRTC has awarded third station licences in Edmonton, Montreal, Quebec City, Winnipeg and Vancouver. It does so despite strong local broadcaster opposition.
In April, Minister Pelletier announces plans to consolidate broadcasting and telecommunications under a single national policy and acknowledges that his major problem will be provincial cooperation. He also publishes a policy paper on new communications technology and urges for a “proper balance between the economical employment of scarce resources and the development of effective service to the public over as wide a range as possible.” In his paper, Pelletier proposes creating a “Committee for Communications Policy” which will consist of both federal and provincial ministers, and suggests that if the provinces acknowledge the validity of federal jurisdiction in the area of broadcasting over cable systems, the government will allow the provinces more autonomy in licensing and regulating other uses of cable.
In May, there is a second federal-provincial conference on communications. At this time, it appears both the provinces and the federal government have become more entrenched in their positions over the question of jurisdiction, and Pelletier suggests creating a joint committee on communications policy. The conference is adjourned until July, and at this time, the federal government demands that in order to participate in the proposed consultative committee, the provinces must first recognize Ottawa’s jurisdictional authority. Both BC and Quebec refuse to join the committee, while the other provinces only agree after the federal government agrees to give them greater authority in the area of telephone regulation.
In June, the CRTC holds hearings related to cable television and pay-television. In a December statement entitled, “Policies respecting broadcasting receiving undertakings”‘ it states that cable operations should “make a contribution to the quality and diversity of the Canadian broadcasting and program production industries; assume an increasing responsibility to contribute to the strength of the total broadcasting system; contribute a unique service in the form of a community programming channel; improve the quality of cable television service and the relations between the cable television industry and the public it serves”. One obligation the CRTC omits is the former 10% allocation of revenue to community channels. Instead, the CRTC suggests cable operators give a “reasonable percentage” of their revenues for maintaining this kind of programming. The CRTC also announces how it will regulate cable services based on their July 16, 1971 policy statement. New obligations must be met by cable licensees including providing one community channel. In addition to these new regulations, the CRTC also states that as a “technologically and financially mature member of the Canadian broadcasting system,” cable operators must also now be more responsible for the overall maintenance of the system which includes greater involvement in Canadian program production.
In this report, the CRTC also states its position on Pay-TV. After receiving over 40 submissions, the CRTC decides against the introduction of Pay-TV services because of its potential threat to the overall broadcasting system such as increased audience fragmentation and the possibility of greater foreign as opposed to Canadian content. While most cable companies support Pay-TV and see it as a way to increase their overall revenue stream, broadcasters are more wary and feel that Pay-TV might hurt them economically. Still, the CRTC does acknowledge at this time that Pay-TV services will be “highly probable in the near future” and encourages companies to continue developing new ideas.
The Federal Appeals Court confirms that the CRTC has the jurisdictional authority to allow cable systems in Canada to delete commercials from US television channels. (See below for S.C.C. decision in 1977)
In August, CBC hires a new president, A.W. Johnson. Johnson’s strategy for revitalizing the CBC is to play up the network’s historical role in forming the “Canadian nationhood.” He also warns that Canadians are increasingly shunning Canadian programs in favor of American ones and hence absorbing more of this culture than their own.
In September, the U.S. company, Home Box Office (HBO), begins to deliver broadcasts to consumers who have paid subscriptions in the US via domestic satellites.
CRTC Vice-Chairman Harry Boyle succeeds Pierre Juneau as Chairman of the Commission.
The question of federal versus provincial jurisdiction over cable again comes to the forefront during the CRTC hearings for cable licenses in Saskatchewan. The provincial government at this time admonishes the federal government for not realizing that broadcasting is an important component of regional as well as national development. However, the CRTC rejects the province’s proposal to support non-profit programming cooperatives and maintains the status quo.
The Ontario Government’s Royal Commission on Violence in the Communications Industry tables a report. The LaMarsh Report suggests that there is no way to eliminate violent content in communications except by completely restructuring the entire Canadian television industry to make it more sensitive to public needs. This includes setting up an organization called Television Canada to oversee all aspects of television programming, and tabling a new Broadcasting Act which will redefine the overall objectives for Canadian Television to include more balanced programming that will reflect the “cultural and regional diversity of Canada.”
On March 14th, the CRTC establishes a committee to look into government allegations that CBC radio and television in Quebec are not fulfilling their mandate to promote national unity and are instead encouraging separatism. In June, CBC’s president publishes a report called Touchstone for the CBC which suggests that in the “national battle for Canadianism,” the CBC could become a major player if it receives adequate government funding. This funding would then be used to create CBC-2, a second commercial-free service on cable in both French and English.
On April 1, 1976, the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission Act changes the mandate of the CRTC to include both broadcasting and telecommunications regulation. However, the CRTC must still separate its regulation of telecommunications from that of broadcasting. Telecommunications thus continues to be regulated according to the National Transportation and Railways Acts.
On June 30th, the CRTC calls for submissions and proposals regarding Pay-TV. The Minister of Communications Jeanne Sauvé calls Pay-TV a “watershed in broadcasting,” and believes all broadcasting entities – cable companies and private and public broadcasters alike – could benefit from the new technology.
The CRTC decides to exempt Master Antenna Television Systems (MATVs) from regulation. During the same year, it also sets out its policy on cable systems carrying FM signals. It limits cable carrying out-of-market FM stations by only allowing those that “complement” rather than “compete with” existing FM stations.
The experimental Communications Technology Satellite (a.k.a. Hermes) is launched. It is one of the first direct broadcast satellites to be constructed.
In February, the CRTC again responds to the balance issue following complaints against a Montreal radio station that had conducted a campaign opposing Quebec’s proposed Official Languages Act. The Commission contends that in matters of public concern, a licensee must provide balanced treatment of an issue, and this is especially true with controversial issues. In addition, the CRTC notes that freedom of expression cannot supersede the public’s right to hear differing points of view.
On March 22nd, the Minister of Communications Jeanne Sauvé introduces Bill C-43 that is designed to combine all telecommunications laws (i.e. Broadcast Act, Radio Act, Telegraph Act and CRTC Act) under a single act called the Telecommunications Act. However, the act does not pass first reading.
On June 13th, the CRTC holds hearings on Pay-TV after receiving over 140 submissions. While the cable industry continues to support the introduction of Pay-TV services, most other interests such as broadcasters and public interest groups remain opposed. After conducting a public hearing survey, the CRTC finds no “compelling demand” for Pay-TV. In their subsequent policy statement, A Report on Pay-Television (1978), the CRTC, with Pierre Camu as Chair, decides against the introduction of Pay-TV services in Canada at the time, but does outline a Pay-TV policy for Canada. According to the CRTC, Pay-TV must provide: a) “predominantly Canadian programming service of high quality”; b) it must “maximize both exhibition opportunities for Canadian programs and the proportion of pay-television revenue available to acquire and invest in Canadian programs”; c) it might provide programming in both official languages, English and French and d) it must be “a national service with its extension throughout the country being consistent with its ability to remain predominately Canadian.” At this time, the CRTC also agrees to study Pay-TV proposals and consider the possibility of a national Pay-TV network which, in its view, should be privately owned.
In July, the CRTC completes its review of the CBC. While it reaffirms its commitment to having a “national broadcasting service”, the Commission also points out that the CBC must “renew its relationship with the public” by fixing its problems which include: a) relying too much on US programming; b) over- centralizing programming and production in both Montreal and Toronto, c) creating a French and English networks that are extremely separate, distinct and isolated from each other and d) having relatively biased news broadcasts (in both French and English). The CRTC then states that it will address these issues again when the CBC comes up for its license renewal in 1978.
Capital Cities Communications Inc., et al. v. CRTC et al.  2 S.C.R. 141 (November 30, 1977) A cable company seeks to delete foreign commercials and substitute its Canadian versions. CRTC approves but only if public service announcements are substituted. Buffalo stations appeal. Held: federal jurisdiction is not divided between receiving and distributing signals. CRTC has delegated authority to regulate cable TV.
Regie des Services Publics et al. v. Dionne et al.  2 S.C.R. 191 (November 30, 1977). Cable systems rely on television signals and on their ability to receive and transmit them to subscribers. As held in Capital Cities case, there is exclusive federal jurisdiction over communications and these are not local works.
CRTC Chairman Harry Boyle retires and is succeeded by Pierre Camu, former President of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters.
In January, the CRTC announces hearings for CBC licence renewals. In April, the CRTC’s decision is announced. While the CRTC again criticizes the CBC for its focus on programming for the masses, it also addresses the issue of the CBC’s national unity and Canadian identity mandate: “the identity unity mandate is the raison d’etre of the national broadcasting service. Accordingly, one can only measure the success or failure of this service in relation to the fulfillment of this double objective.” As such, the CRTC admonishes English CBC for being too “Americanized” and French CBC for focusing too much on Quebec (i.e. regional) concerns. During the same year, the CRTC also establishes AM and FM radio broadcasting regulations.
In January, the government again introduces legislation designed to combine all aspects of broadcasting and telecommunications under a single act. However, Bill C-24 again fails to become law, and a third effort to pass legislation in November again fails after an election is called.
The newly elected Conservative minority government’s Minister of Communications, David MacDonald, meets with the provinces and tells them he will support efforts to provide them with greater authority and responsibility in communications.
In February, CTV experienced another “rough” CRTC licence renewal hearing; this time the Council of Canadian Filmmakers and the ACTRA Performers’ Union joined CRTCs’ Dr. Pierre Camu and commissioners Roy Faibish and Jacques Hébert in admonishing CTV for its lack of Canadian drama.
The three-day hearing was filled with arguments from CTV station owners, with President Murray Chercover saying CTV could not do more.
In August, CRTC gave CTV an ultimatum, demanding stepped-up Canadian content in the 1980 – 81 season with a further increase for the rest of its five-year licence renewal. Furthermore, this increase would have to apply after 8:00 pm, and the Commission wanted more programming that would reflect the cultural life of Quebec to the rest of Canada, as well as more shows directed at children.
CTV and its owners were outraged, calling it censorship, and promised an appeal to the Supreme Court. As CTV prepared its appeal, there was a federal election, and the Conservatives came to power under Joe Clark.
CTV won a partial victory at court, but lost its appeal to the Supreme Court in a decision announced in April 1982. The CRTC decision of 1979 was totally restored.
In the meantime, CTV programming continued as before, and the CRTC decided not to enforce its 1979 ruling – instead handing out a short term renewal of two years instead of the regular 5-year term.
In January, following the Minister’s request, the CRTC, now headed by John Meisel, sets up a committee that will study the issue of extending services into remote and Northern communities. The committee is headed by Real Therrien.
A new Liberal government is elected to Parliament in February. Francis Fox becomes the new Minister of Communications. In June, he states that his biggest concern is ensuring a balance with the development of new technologies; that is, paying equal attention to both the hardware and software of communications. In the same year, House of Commons debates begin being broadcast live via satellite to cable in fifteen major cities in Canada.
In May, the CRTC announces its policies on Complaints and Requests for Tapes or Transcripts of Broadcast Programs. It states that all stations have to keep tapes or transcripts of their broadcasts for 4 weeks and possibly 8 weeks for AM and FM stations in order to help decide whether a complaint merits consideration by the Commission. However, the CRTC also recommends that such problems be resolved by the broadcasters themselves without further involvement from the Commission.
In May, the CRTC announces its proposed amendments to cable television regulations following its initial 1979 report.
In July, the CRTC committee looking into northern and remote community services publishes its report entitled: The 1980s: A Decade of Diversity: Broadcasting, Satellites and Pay-TV. It recommends the introduction of Pay-TV despite the fact that there continues to be a lack of demand for this kind of service. While it rejects the idea of a national Pay-TV network, the committee states that it is “a new and unique opportunity to foster the beneficial development of the Canadian film and program production industries while supporting and complementing the Canadian broadcasting system and catering to the needs of Canadian viewers.” Lastly, the committee also suggests that the CRTC receive applications for a new Canadian television satellite service to better serve communities in the Northern and remote areas of the country.
In July, responsibility for cultural issues is transferred from the Arts and Culture branch of the Secretary of State to the Department of Communications. Here, the idea of developing “cultural industries” is first introduced, and becomes something that the DOC increasingly sees as a priority.
In August, the Federal Cultural Policy Review Committee, co-chaired by Louis Applebaum and Jacques Hebert, is formed.
In April, the CRTC holds another public opinion survey on Pay-TV. After finding that 14% of Canadians would subscribe to these services if offered, it calls for applications for local, regional and national Pay-TV licences.
In May, the CBC appears before Parliament and faces criticisms for: a) perceived imbalances in English versus French programming and b) their contributions to multiculturalism and c) their handling of Western separatism. They are also denied increased funding, an indication that the public corporation no longer takes precedent over the private sector. On May 27th, the CRTC also denies the CBC’s application to create CBC-2 (Decision CRTC 81-353: CBC). This second station was first proposed in their 1976 report, Touchstone for the CBC.
Following the rejection of CBC-2, Minister of Communications Fox states that although the CBC remains an important element of the Canadian Broadcasting System, new “players in the system” also have to be taken into consideration. He goes on to suggest that new technologies are in fact responsible for CBC’s diminishing role.
The CRTC grants a licence to Canadian Satellite Communications Incorporated “Cancom”). It is to “deliver a basic package of attractive television and radio services to the more remote and underserved communities throughout Canada.” (Public Notice 1985-60; Decision 81-252) Cancom will commence services one year later, and becomes the first company in the world to provide scrambled TV signals via satellite to remote communities.
On March 18th, the CRTC announces the names of the recipients of the first Pay-TV licenses in Canada (Decision 82-240). This includes licences for a general interest English/French service (First Choice Canadian/Premier Choix), a national specialty licence for the performing arts (C Channel), and regional general-interest licences throughout Canada. It is hoped that these channels will increase the amount of Canadian content on television, and a regulatory framework is put in place.
CRTC v. CTV et al. (1982) 1 S.C.R. 532. CTV argued that it had no notice of CRTC’s intention to impose a drama condition, which it did in granting a 3 year renewal. Held: CTV knew CRTC was concerned about drama and it had been discussed at the hearing. An applicant has no right to know in advance what the decision will be.
In August, Pierre Juneau replaces A. W. Johnson as President of the CBC.
On November 16th, the Federal Cultural Policy Review Committee presents its report and recommends a new broadcasting act. The Applebaum-Hebert report states that it is difficult to ascertain the success of the Canadian broadcasting system given that the goals and objectives of the Broadcasting Act are vague and somewhat immeasurable. In addition, they recommend greater clarity concerning the roles of various broadcasting entities including the CBC. They alternately call the CBC a “state-owned” and a “publicly-owned” entity, and suggest that private broadcasting is a good alternative to the CBC in helping to maintain a “balance” within the national system. They also believe the CBC should sever its ties with private stations and stay out of television production. In terms of the CRTC, the committee believes that the CRTC’s Canadian content requirements have not sufficiently met the cultural objectives of the Broadcasting Act, in part because of the inherent conflict between cultural and economic/industry goals. They also contend that while the CRTC should have final say over licensing issues, Cabinet should be able to direct the agency on policy matters. Lastly, in terms of new technologies, the committee notes that it is better to use these new entities to enhance Canadian programming rather than restricting public use of them.
The Liberal government issues a Direction to the CRTC instructing them not to grant or renew radio/television licenses to companies that own other media outlets (i.e. newspapers) within the same market. Despite this request, from 1982-1985, the CRTC using a discretion provided in the Direction, does grant seven requests for continuing cross-ownership. (The Direction is repealed in 1985.)
Anik 3, Telesat’s newest satellite is launched. It is the world’s first communications satellite powerful enough to broadcast directly into homes which have powerful receiving dishes.
In January, the CRTC issues a new policy statement on Canadian Content in Television. (Public Notice 1983-18). Canadian content will be based on a point system “which (will) focus primarily on the two observable aspects of any program: performance and production.” It also publishes a report called Religious Broadcasting: Licensing Policy and Call for Applications for a Satellite-to-Cable, Interfaith Religious Programming Service (Public Notice CRTC 1983-112). While the CRTC rejects the idea of broadcast undertakings designed exclusively for one religious community, it does support the idea of a network programming service that will showcase the various religions and cultures of all Canadians.
On February 1st, Pay-TV channels begin airing. However, most licensees face financial difficulties and the only successful channel, First Choice, relies predominantly on American as opposed to Canadian programming.
On March 1st, Francis Fox, the Minister of Communications, releases a paper entitled Towards a New National Broadcasting Policy. This paper discusses the threat of new technologies to the existing broadcasting system and outlines three goals for Canadian broadcasting: a) “to maintain the Canadian broadcasting system as an effective vehicle of social and cultural policy in light of a renewed commitment to the spirit of the broadcasting objectives set out in the 1968 Broadcasting Act”; b) “to make available to all Canadians a solid core of attractive Canadian programming in all program categories, through the development of strong Canadian broadcast and program production industries,” and c) “to provide a significantly increased choice of programming of all kinds in both official languages in all parts of Canada.” Four major policy strategies are then suggested. They include: a) using the cable system to expand available programming; b) strengthening Canadian programming; c) greater government influence on the CRTC to direct policy changes and d) eliminating satellite dish requirements for individuals and others who are not currently being served by cable systems. Lastly, the paper lists eight areas which must be examined before developing any concrete policies. These include: a)strengthening the private sector and having it play a bigger role in Canadian programming; b) enhancing French language services in all of Canada; c) developing ways to market Canadian programs internationally; d) equalizing services throughout Canada by using new distribution technologies, e) putting together a new northern broadcasting policy; f) providing a regulatory environment flexible enough to be able to handle the introduction of new services; g) revising broadcasting legislation and h) an overall review of the CBC to ensure it plays its role as a “crucial component of an identifiably Canadian broadcasting system.”
On March 17th, the Standing Committee on Culture and Committee begins hearings to address the issues brought forth in the Applebaum-Herbert report.
In May, the CRTC makes a call for applications for Pay-TV and publish a report entitled, Cable Television Service Tiering and Universal Pay Television Service (Public Notice 1983-245). After receiving 44 applications, the CRTC decides to add “diversity” to the Canadian broadcasting and agrees to issue licences for up to five (out of 17) non-Canadian services. These services are considered to be “tiered” services and will be offered with existing Canadian services.
In August, the CRTC affirms that a while a broadcaster is required to provide balanced opportunity for differing views to be expressed on matters of public concern; this is not applicable in cases of abusive comments towards racial and other identifiable groups.
In October, the Department of Communications releases its own comprehensive review of the CBC entitled, Building for the Future: Towards a Distinctive CBC. The report praises the CBC for its historic role in showing “what it has meant to be Canadian over the past 50 years.” The report suggests that the new role of the CBC is to “complement” the private production sector in developing a strong Canadian industry. It also recommends that the CBC continue to provide programming that will appeal to all Canadians, as opposed to the US PBS system which was much narrower in focus. Lastly, the report rejects the idea that the CBC should divest itself of programming facilities.
The Federal government publishes a report on direct- to- home broadcast satellites entitled, Direct-to-Home Broadcasting for Canada. In the report, the government reiterates its enthusiasm for using these devices to help bring Canadian programming to northern and remote communities.
The Canadian Broadcast Program Development Fund is created to ensure high-quality programming in the areas of drama, variety, documentaries and children’s shows.
John Meisel is succeeded by André Bureau as Chairman of the CRTC.
The Minister of Communications publishes a working paper by the Dept. of Communications outlining Canada’s position on direct-to-home satellite broadcasting.
On February 8th, Fox introduces Bill C-20, an omnibus bill designed to incorporate changes into existing legislation. For example, the CRTC Act will be changed to give the government power to issue policy directives to the CRTC. In addition, the Broadcasting Act will be amended to include the idea that the broadcasting system provide balanced programming for all Canadians, while the CBC is redefined as “a distinctive service of information, enlightenment and entertainment within the Canadian broadcasting system.” However, the Bill does not pass.
CJMF- FM Ltee v. CRTC (F.C.A. No. A-398-84, March 29, 1984) Station had not kept its program promises and CRTC was therefore entitled to refuse to renew its licence and in doing so did not breach the Charter.
On April 2nd, the CRTC awards licences for new Canadian Pay-TV services related to sports and music (Public Notice 1984-81) and issues regulations for Pay-TV services (Public Notice 1984275) in an announcement entitled, “Specialty Programming Services.” The new sports channel, TSN, is given to a subsidiary of the Labatt Brewing Company and must provide at least 18% Canadian content. The new music channel, MuchMusic, is co-owned by CHUM Ltd and City-TV. They are obliged to offer 10% Canadian content. In addition, the CRTC also gives the cable companies permission to import a variety of American services. This is because it sees the cable providers as key players in providing new “package” services of Pay-TV channels to consumers.
In April, the CRTC also makes further changes to television Canadian content regulations and publishes Recognition for Canadian Programs (Public Notice 1984-94) which introduces a new point system related to Canadian content.
In June, John Turner briefly replaces Pierre Trudeau as Prime Minister of Canada. One of his first acts is to separate the industrial and cultural mandates currently held within the Department of Communications. However, in September, Turner’s government loses the election to Brian Mulroney’s Progressive Conservatives.
In November, the Finance Minister Michael Wilson tells the CBC they must cut at least $75M from the operating budget as part of an overall plan to reduce public spending.
In December, the new Minister of Communications, Marcel Masse is authorized to conduct a full scale policy review of Broadcasting. In a series of interviews, Masse makes clear that his government does not plan to continue the long standing tradition of heavy state funding to maintain Canadian culture. Instead, Masse reiterates the important roles that both the private and public sector have to play, and is enthusiastic about giving the provinces a greater role to play in regional cultural development. On December 24th, the federal government (now Conservative) also re-introduces Bill C-20. This new version of the Bill is designed to clarify the relationship between the CRTC and federal government and give the latter greater control over policy directives.
In January, after some modifications, Bill C-20 is given a second reading.
In February, the federal government signs an agreement with the Quebec government designed to strengthen communications enterprises within the province. Each government agrees to provide $40M in funding which will help create more jobs and greater investment within the communications sector.
In April, the Task Force on Broadcasting Policy, or Caplan-Sauvageau Task Force, is formed. It is asked to make recommendations about appropriate cultural and industrial strategies that will help guide the “future evolution” of the Canadian broadcasting system. It also announces the creation of a Task Force which will look at the French language music industry.
In May, a federal-provincial collaborative effort results in a report on French programming in Canada. It is entitled, The Future of French-Language Television. One of its major recommendations is to recognize “the special nature of the French-language television system within the Canadian broadcasting system, and that government policies and regulations be adapted accordingly.”
In May, the PC Cabinet repeals a former Liberal Directive that would have limited cross-ownership of different media outlets within a single market (Order-in-Council 1985-1737).
In July, the CRTC publishes a series of reports including, A Broadcasting Policy Reflecting Canada’s Linguistic and Cultural Diversity (Public Notice 1985-139). In December, they publish Northern Native Broadcasting (Public Notice 1985-274). The latter covers aboriginal programming and is based in part on the Therrien report.
After holding a series of consultations for over two and a half years regarding the regulation of Canadian cable, radio and television industries, the CRTC completes a restructuring of its broadcasting regulatory framework that will take another year to fully implement. It decides to move away from its traditional “rigid” regulatory approach and adopts a more “supervisory” role in dealing with broadcasting entities. This then means greater “self-regulation” by industries. Other CRTC reforms include: a) removing restrictions related to AM advertising; b) increasing Canadian programming by exempting certain FM program formats from commercial limitations; c) reducing minimum French language requirements from 65% to 55%; d) creating a more “flexible” regulatory environment for cable operations; e) reducing Canadian content requirement for “discretionary” Pay-TV services, and f) reducing Canadian content from 60% to 50% during daytime hours.
From 1984-1986, the CRTC authorizes a number of new Canadian specialty channels including the Life Channel, TeleLatino, China Vision and Musique Plus.
From 1985-1986, the CRTC also authorizes a number of new commercial services including: a) 17 new specialized subscriber services to be put on cable and b) one new private French language station in Montreal. In addition, the CRTC also decides to renew CBC licences without holding public hearings.
From 1986-1987, the CRTC holds hearings for major television network licence renewals including the CBC and CTV.
In February, the federal government signs another agreement with the Quebec provincial government. This four year agreement aims to “harmonize” all policies related to French language television. The agreement also signals the federal government’s willingness to allow the province a more “official role” in creating federal communications policies.
In March, the Quebec provincial government cuts $8M from the budget of Radio-Quebec. This move effectively shuts down most of their regional offices.
In April, public hearings are held that look into the role of women on television. Several women’s groups produce statistics that show very few issues directly related to women are aired on prime time television and that over 70% of individuals shown on television are men.
In June, the Caplan-Sauvageau Task Force submits its report. It suggests replacing the idea of Canadian broadcasting as a “single system” to that of a “composite system,” with each entity being given a specific role within the entire system. While the Task Force acknowledges the historical problems facing Canadian broadcasting, it dismisses the idea that federally created state agencies are the only vehicles that have the ability to promote Canadian broadcasting interests. Instead, they suggest that social and cultural objectives should be expanded to include the needs of all Canadians and not just the elite, and that this can be done through a variety of different agencies. The Task Force also criticizes the most profitable elements of the broadcasting system like the cable companies, stating that they contribute the least to Canadian programming, production and diversity. They also recommend creating “public advocates” in each region to oversee and represent individuals and public interest groups who do not always have access to the regulatory process, and easier access to public documents. Lastly, the Task Force also notes that the CRTC must clarify its policies related to: a) concentration of ownership; b) cross-media ownership in single markets and c) vertical integration, and that it has three options related to Pay-TV services. It can: a) allow for the wholesale import of American channels; b) have Canadian licensees put together packages consisting of US and Canadian services or c) produce new Canadian programs by authorizing the creation of new Canadian public services. Eventually, the CRTC will go with the second option.
In August, after holding a series of consultations for over two and a half years regarding the regulation of Canadian cable, radio and television industries, the CRTC completes a restructuring of its broadcasting regulatory framework that will take another year to fully implement. In a report entitled, “Regulations respecting Broadcasting Receiving Undertakings”, it decides to move away from its traditional “rigid” regulatory approach and adopts a more supervisory role in dealing with broadcasting entities. This means greater “self regulation” by industries. Other CRTC reforms include: a) removing restrictions related to AM advertising; b) increasing Canadian programming by exempting certain FM program formats from commercial limitations; c) reducing minimum French language requirements from 65% to 55%; d) creating a more “flexible” regulatory environment for cable operations; e) reducing Canadian content requirement for “discretionary” Pay TV services and f) reducing Canadian content from 60% to 50% during daytime hours. Lastly, the commission decides to allow the cable companies a variety of methods to increase their annual rates. (Public Notice 1986-182)
The CRTC again calls for new applications from companies wanting to provide new Canadian specialty services. During the same year, it rejects introducing pay-per-view services in the country (Public Notice 1986-313).
In December, the CRTC announces new policy measures designed to improve the image of women in the media entitled Policy on Sex-Role Stereotyping in the Broadcast Media (Public Notice 1986-351). This includes placing conditions on future license holders requiring them to adhere “to a code developed by the Canadian Association of Broadcasters and accepted by the Commission.”
In January, the CRTC grants the Quebec cable company, Videotron, permission to buy Tele-Metropole, the province’s most profitable private television station, (CRTC Decision 87-62). This happens one year after the CRTC denies a similar application by Power Corporation to buy Tele-Metropole. This decision allows for greater ownership concentration and is approved in part because Videotron promises a series of new programming aimed at strengthening its position globally.
In January, the CRTC also changes Canadian content regulations for TV to 60% overall and 50% in primetime (Public Notice 1987-8).
On January 29th, the Standing Committee on Culture and Communications is given the Caplan-Sauvageau report and is instructed to examine all relevant issues related to developing new broadcasting legislation by April 15th. This short timeframe is imposed in part because of the CRTC’s rapid pace in awarding licences for new services. One of the issues the Standing Committee therefore focuses on is the CRTC’s handling of specialty services, as this deals with questions related to cultural sovereignty, the relationship between private and public sectors and the kinds of “packages” that are becoming available to Canadian consumers. In April, the committee states that by authorizing various US services that are quickly becoming embedded in the Canadian system, these services have in fact compromised the “potential development of equivalent Canadian ones.”
In July, the CRTC holds new public hearings for new Canadian specialty services and states that cable licensees must ensure Canadian services are given “fair and equitable access” on these systems (Public Notice 1987-260).
On November 30th, the CRTC rejects 10 applications and decides to award 11 licences for new specialty services including an all-weather channel and a CBC 24 hour all-news channel. At this time, the CRTC also decides to move TSN and MuchMusic from “optional” to “basic” cable. These new services are to be financed in part by consumers, who will see small increases in their cable subscription charges. However, while cable operators can decide whether or not to offer these new channels, cable subscribers have no choice when it comes to paying for TSN and MuchMusic in their basic cable packages. This angers groups like the Consumers’ Association of Canada, who appeal to Cabinet and asks it to overturn the CRTC decision (Public Notice 1987-261).
In November, the CRTC also publishes a report entitled, Regulatory Policy for Direct-to-Home Satellite Broadcasting Systems, Multipoint Distribution Systems, and Subscription Television Systems (Public Notice 1987-254).
In April, the CRTC issues a policy statement that includes changes to cable television regulations, allowing companies to increase their basic subscriber fees to cover any new costs associated with introducing new specialty services (Public Notice 988-57).
After holding extensive hearings, on June 9th, the Standing Committee on Communications and Culture tables its report called A Broadcasting Policy for Canada and makes over 143 recommendations. This report reiterates much of the Caplan-Sauvageau Task Force findings and states that Canadian cultural policy is closely tied to broadcasting policy. The committee also calls for new legislation that will see broadcast distribution undertakings like cable contribute more to Canadian programming, much like over-air-broadcasters had to do under the 1968 Broadcasting Act. In addition, the report recommends clearer policies related to concentration of ownership issues, citing the CRTC’s somewhat dubious track record in this area. In sum, the report calls for changes to legislative definitions, Canadian broadcasting system objectives, the CBC, cable and other BDU legislative provisions, and CRTC regulatory powers.
On June 23rd, the Minister of Communications Flora MacDonald simultaneously tables Bill C-136, The Broadcasting Act, and issues a policy statement related to Canadian broadcasting called Canadian Voices: Canadian Choices – A New Broadcasting Policy for Canada. The policy paper proposes that the Canadian broadcasting system is missing some “key ingredients” that prevents Canadians from having “real choices” in obtaining quality programming. It also outlines three major policy areas to focus on which include: a) increasing English Canadian programming (especially variety and drama) during prime-time hours; b) fairness and access issues, and c) new technology. The initial Bill reaffirms the idea of Canadian broadcasting as a “single system” and supports the idea of an independent regulatory agency regulating and supervising the system. It calls the Canadian broadcasting system an important public service that should maintain and enhance national identity and cultural sovereignty. In addition, the “national unity” mandate of the CBC is replaced with the idea that the corporation contribute to “shared national consciousness and identity.” The Bill also acknowledges the multicultural nature of the country, and states that programs should reflect the ethnic and linguistic diversity of all Canadians, the circumstances and goals of both men and women, and the special place of aboriginals within society. Lastly, the new Act calls for greater contributions by private broadcast undertakings towards Canadian programming, and states that the CRTC should first define new services before inviting licenCe applications.
In September, after undergoing a series of amendments, the Bill returns to the House of Commons and more amendments are made. Such amendments include adding a Canadianization clause in the policy section, strengthening human rights provisions within the act, including new references to employment opportunities and equal rights, and limiting cabinet power over the CRTC. On September 28, Bill C-136 is adopted, despite fierce opposition. However, the Bill is stalled in the Senate when a new election is called.
In September, the CRTC decides to renew a broadcast licence held by a Vancouver Co-operative Radio station despite complaints that it had not provided balance in its programming when it aired a program called “Voice of Palestine.” (Decision 88-694). In their report, the CRTC notes that in order to keep its licence, the station must produce adequate guidelines to ensure it complies with the balance requirement, and cites its own policy document, Balance in Programming on Community Access Media, as a reference. This document states that a) each undertaking must comply with the requirement of the Act regarding balance in its own programming; b) not all programming need be balanced, only that relating to matters of public concern; c) in general, balance need not be attained in each program or series of programs but rather in the overall programming offered by each undertaking over a reasonable period of time; d) to attain balance, equal time need not necessarily be required for each point of view. Rather it is expected that a variety of points of view will be made available in the programming offered by the undertaking to a reasonably consistent viewer or listener over a reasonable period of time (Public Notice 1988-161).
In October, the Commission also states that it is now willing to look at pay-per-view proposals (Public Notice 1988-173).
In December, the CRTC issues a policy statement on open-line programs on radio, TV and cable community channels and states that broadcasters should formulate their own guidelines to prevent “abusive comment” and to ensure “balance and high standards in programming” (Public Notice 1988-213).
In Saskatchewan, the provincial Court of Appeal maintains that broadcasting undertakings include both transmitting and receiving systems, and that it does not matter whether these systems are profit, non-profit or commercial. R. v. Nipawin
( 1988) 65 Sask R 151) ( See below for S.C.C. Decision, 22 January, 1991.)
Starting in January, the CRTC issues new policy statements for radio and television networking as well as radio syndication (Public Notices 1989-2, 1989-3, 1989-4).
In February, the CRTC holds a public hearing and considers proposals to change cable television subscriber fees as well as other issues.
Irwin Toy Limited v. Quebec (Attorney General)  1 S.C.R. 927 (April 27, 1984). Prohibitions by Quebec against advertising directed to children infringe the Charter’s freedoms but nonetheless are justified.
On May 15th the CRTC announces a series of changes to cable television regulations (Public Notice 1990-83). Changes include: examining industry profitability on an eight year cycle as opposed to every year, and reducing the profitability benchmarks of the industry.
On October 2nd the Copyright Act is amended so that cable and satellite companies are now required to pay for retransmitting works included in distant broadcast signals. Here, the concept of broadcasting is changed from “communication to the public” to include all kinds of telecommunications.
While the first English all-news channel is launched by the CBC, the CRTC rejects the network’s proposal for a French all-news channel.
With the re-election of a Conservative government, on October 12th, Bill C-40, which will amend the 1968 Broadcasting Act, is reintroduced into Parliament.
Keith Spicer replaces André Bureau as Chairman of the CRTC.
In February, the CRTC awards a network licence to Allarcom Pay Television Limited in order for the company to provide pay-per-view services on a temporary and experimental basis to its pay television service subscribers in Saskatchewan (Decision 90-78).
Tele-Metropole Inc. v. Michael Bishop, cited as Bishop v. Stevens  2 S.C.R. 467 (March 30, 1990). Copyright: the right to broadcast a performance does not include the right to make an “ephemeral” recording to assist technically in the broadcasting of the work.
In September, the CRTC redefines its approach to aboriginal broadcasting in a statement entitled, Native Broadcasting Policy (Public Notice 1990-89).
In December, the CRTC publishes a new policy statement for FM Radio entitled, An FM Policy for the Nineties. The Commission increases Canadian content levels on popular music stations from a minimum of 20% to 30%, increases stations’ flexibility so they can better serve audience needs, and changes daily limits on advertising from 150 minutes to 15% for the broadcast week (Public Notice 1990-111).
The CRTC approves the transfer of control of Global Communications Limited to CanWest Communications Enterprises Incorporated (Decision 90-1093).
In order to address its $108M budget deficit, the CBC begins a period of major restructuring. It changes six originating television stations to rebroadcast stations, and gets out of local television programming in order to concentrate on regional, national and international programs.
In order to assess the financial state of the Canadian television system, the Federal Government creates a Task Force on the Economic Status of Canadian Television. The co-chairs are Jacques Girard and J.R. Peters.
Late in the year, Keith Spicer takes an eight-month leave of absence from the Chairmanship of the CRTC at Brian Mulroney’s request, to chair the “Citizens’ Forum on Canada’s Future.” His place is filled by Commissioner and Atlantic Representative David Colville on a temporary basis.
R. v. Nipawin and District Satellite T.V. Inc.  1 S.C.R. 64 (22 January, 1991.The Supreme Court of Canada decides in favour of the 1988 Saskatchewan Court of Appeal decision which held that broadcasting undertakings include both transmitting and receiving systems, and that it does not matter whether these systems are profit, non-profit or commercial.
On February 1st, a revised Broadcasting Act is given royal assent, and becomes law on June 4th. It contains major revisions to the original Broadcasting Act that was first enacted in 1968, and is based in large part on Bill C-40 which focused on the recommendations presented in the 1986 Caplan-Sauvageau Task Force Report. Generally, the new legislation provides clearer and more detailed descriptions of various elements of the Canadian broadcasting system, eliminates the national unity mandate of the CBC, and changes the network’s organizational structure. In addition, it includes provisions for educational and alternative broadcasting. It posits that all broadcast entities must provide a wide range of programming that reflects “Canadian perspectives,” and gives the government power to issue directions to the CRTC on broad policy matters.
In March, Viewer’s Choice Canada, Canada’s first pay-per-view service, is licensed (Decision 91-160).
In June, the CRTC presents a new policy for community channels. Cable systems are provided with more flexibility to share programming, minimum funding guidelines are established, and advertising is allowed in areas with no local commercial television or radio stations (Public Notice 1991-59).
Early in 1991, Western International Communications, owners of CTV affiliate BCTV (CHAN-TV) in Vancouver, made a deal to buy the independent station CHCH-TV in Hamilton, Ontario, which competed directly with CTV Toronto affiliate CFTO-TV. The proposed purchase was opposed by CFTO at the CRTC hearing in July; in October, the CRTC approved the deal, but imposed a condition that would require WIC to divest itself of ownership of either CHAN-TV Vancouver or CHEK-TV in Victoria.
To no-one’s surprise WIC’S chairman Frank Griffith declined to accede to this condition, saying “I find it impossible to believe we would comply.”
Later in the year, WIC applied to the CRTC again for permission to purchase CHCH – while retaining the two British Columbia television stations. The commission approved the purchase on December 23. WIC would spend some $9 million over the next five years in its benefits package attached to the purchase of CHCH. Included was $3.5 million to upgrade news facilities, acquire a new SNG vehicle, expand its bureau at Queen’s Park, and establish a bureau in Montreal.
In August, the CRTC changes its radio regulations; both FM and AM stations must adhere to new Canadian content levels (Public Notice 1991-89).
The Girard-Peters Task Force submits its report entitled The Economic Status of Canadian Television. It has over 44 recommendations. In December, a Television Industry summit is held in Montreal to discuss various issues.
After eight months away chairing the “Citizens’ Forum on Canada’s Future”, Keith Spicer returns to the chairmanship of the CRTC.
In May, the CRTC issues a policy statement entitled, Policies for Community and Campus Radio. It provides these stations with some flexibility for their commitment to provide alternative programming (Public Notice 1992-38).
In September, the CRTC reviews sex-role stereotyping in the media with their report, 1992 Policy on Gender Portrayal. It is their first major report on this issue since their 1986 policy on sex-role stereotyping (Public Notice 1992-58).
In November, the CRTC publishes its new regulatory framework for radio entitled, A Review of the CRTC’s Regulations and Policies for Radio. They suggest that they “will allow broadcasters as much flexibility as possible in responding to the financial difficulties they now face, in so far as these difficulties related to regulation” (Public Notice 1992-72).
The Standing Committee on Communications and Culture submits a report looking at the relationship between culture, communications and Canadian unity called Culture and Communications: The Ties that Bind. In the following year, the federal government will submit a follow-up report entitled, Unique Among Nations.
The Federal Government decides to privatize the satellite corporation Telesat Canada and provides it with a ten year monopoly in satellite communications.
Direction on foreign ownership is amended, Order in Council P.C. 1993-0933 (11 May, 1993.)
In June, the CRTC decides that digital direct-to-home (DTH) satellite services may help to fulfill certain objectives of the Canadian Broadcasting System. It also states it has jurisdiction over foreign DTH providers who are currently offering their services in Canada (Public Notice 1993-74).
CRTC announces its regulatory policy for multipoint distribution systems (MDS) to provide service to areas not served by cable TV. (Public Notice 1993-76)
In June, the CRTC publishes a policy statement on Religious Broadcasting which stresses the importance of presenting issues in a balanced way (Public Notice 1993-78).
In June, the CRTC also publishes a report based on structural public hearings it held in March. The Commission introduces new price cap regulation for cable systems as a way of providing the industry with financial incentives to upgrade their systems and to get money for a new program production fund (Public Notice 1993-74).
In December, the CRTC changes some Canadian content requirements for music. Canadians who are composers or lyricists and collaborate with non-Canadians are classified as Canadian. In addition, the commission reintroduces its rule of “once Canadian, always Canadian” (Public Notice 1993-173).
In February, the CRTC announces the creation of a new Canadian Production Fund which will start in 1995 (Public Notice 1994-10).
In April, the federal Minister of Industry, John Manley, establishes the Information Highway Advisory Council (IHAC). Its mandate is to make recommendations to the Minister of Industry on a “national strategy to govern the evolution of Canada’s advanced information and communications infrastructure respecting the overall social and economic goals of the federal government”. In addition, five working groups are created to examine the following areas: Access and Social Impact; Canadian Content and Culture; Competitiveness and Job Creation; Learning and Training; and R&D, Applications and Market Development
In June, the CRTC approves licence applications for two new pay services and eight new specialty channels. It also decides in favour of a CBC application to operate an all-news French language channel (Decision 94-285).
In August, the CRTC initially exempts DTH broadcasting from licensing on the condition that these services are owned by Canadians, use Canadian facilities, and carry more Canadian services than foreign ones (Public Notice 1994-111).
In one of its licence renewal decisions, the CRTC decides that private broadcasters will have choice in terms of certain regulatory mechanisms. They can either follow content quotas or allocate a portion of their program spending in specific target program areas.
The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage submits a report that examines the role of the CBC and recommends ways it can increase its revenues. It is entitled The Future of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in the Multi-Channel Universe.
Order in Council P.C. 1995-0620 (25 April, 1995) provides policy Direction to CRTC for licensing direct-to- home (DTH) distribution undertakings.
On May19, 1995 the CRTC publishes Competition and Culture on Canada’s Information Highway: Managing the Realities of Transition. This report examines the economic potential of the information highway and recommends introducing competition in this area of broadcast distribution quickly. It also mentions how monopolies in both the cable and telephone companies have to be removed to allow new service providers equitable access to these subscribers. In September, the IHAC also issues its own report entitled, Connection, Community, Content: The Challenge of the Information Highway.
British Columbia Telephone Co. v. Shaw Cable Systems (B.C.) Ltd.  2 S.C.R. 739 (June 22, 1995). As a specialized administrative tribunal, CRTC is entitled to curial deference. CRTC has the authority to mandate access and quality of service for cable TV companies on telephone company poles.
On July 6, following a government review of DTH satellite broadcasting, the Governor-in-Council issues two Directions, Orders-in-Council 1995-1105 and 1995-1106, to the CRTC regarding its policies for both DTH satellite distribution undertakings and pay-per-view television program undertakings. The CRTC is told that they should establish a competitive market for DTH services and for DTH pay-per-view television programming, and that this should be done by licensing entities wishing to offer DTH services.
In October, the CRTC publishes, A Policy to Govern the Introduction of Digital Radio (Public Notice 1995-184).
In December, the CRTC revokes its 1994 exemption order regarding DTH broadcasting (Public Notice 1995-219). The commission then approves applications by ExpressVu and Power DirecTV to begin offering Canada’s first national DTH satellite distribution services (Decision 95-901 & 95-902).
In December, CBC is granted a licence by the CRTC to begin the first digital audio music service called Galaxie (Decision 95-914).
Pierre Juneau is asked by the Federal Government to chair a Mandate Review Committee that will examine the future roles of the CBC, National Film Board and Telefilm Canada. It will publish its report in 1996 called Making Your Voices Heard (Juneau Report) that contains 95 recommendations.
A Task Force on Implementing Digital Television is also created. It will submit its report in 1997 called Preparing Canada for a Digital World.
In January, Shaw Communications Incorporated, a cable company, is awarded a licence by the CRTC to begin offering national DTH satellite distribution services via Homestar (Decision CRTC 97-38). However, Homestar will merge with Star Choice one year later.
An important change to the Direction on Canadian Ownership, Order in Council P.C. 1996-0479 (11 May, 1996) permits a holding company above the licensee company to be 33 1/3% foreign owned, with the licensee remaining at 20% foreign. In the result the total permitted foreign ownership influence is increased to 46.7%.
In August, the CRTC, after being advised that DirecTV will not be able to launch DTH services, awards a licence to Star Choice to begin offering these services in Canada (Decision 96-529).
In September, the CRTC approves applications and awards licences for 24 more specialty and pay-television services (Public Notice 1996-120).
The Bell Canada Act is amended so that the corporation can now hold a broadcast licence.
The IHAC releases another report on the information highway entitled, Building the Information Society: Moving Canada into the 21st Century.
The Federal Government publishes its policy framework on convergence called Convergence Policy Statement.
Sheila Copps, the Federal Minister of Canadian Heritage, announces that the Cable Production Fund and Telefilm’s Broadcast Fund will be combined to form the Canada Television and Cable Production Fund.
Françoise Bertrand becomes the first woman CRTC Chair, succeeding Keith Spicer.
In March, the CRTC announces its new regulatory framework for broadcasting distribution undertakings (BDUs) This includes cable, DTH satellite and radio communication distribution undertakings (Public Notice 1997-25)
Direction on foreign ownership, P.C. 1997-0486 (8 April, 1997) creates a new class of grandfathered applicants eligible to hold licences.
Order in Council P.C. 1997-0629 (22 April, 1997) changes definition of agents of a province.
On May 1st, the CRTC’s policy on telephone companies applying for broadcasting distribution undertaking licences is published. (Public Notice 1997-49) (Also see above, CRTC’s Competition and Culture report, 19 May, 1995.)
In June, the CRTC issues a public notice regarding a classification system for violence in television programming. This new system is developed by the action Group on Violence on Television (Public Notice 1997-80).
In July, the CRTC announces that 80% of programming contributions made by BDUs must be given to the newly established Canada Television and Cable Production Fund. The remaining 20% will be given to other independently administered funds (Public Notice 1997-98).
In July, the CRTC issues a public notice regarding the licensing of new video-on-demand program undertakings (Public Notice 1997-83)
ExpressVu Inc. v. NII Norsat  1 F.C. (July 23, 1997) Re: Satellite grey and black markets. Held: Paragraph 9(1)(c) of the Radiocommunications Act should be interpreted as providing an absolute prohibition against decoding encrypted satellite signals unless provided by a lawful distributor in Canada.
In August, LOOK TV Incorporated is given a MDS radio communication distribution licence to begin services to Southern Ontario communities (Decision 97-370).
In December, the CRTC publishes new regulations based on their new regulatory framework for BDUs (Public Notice 1997-150).
The IHAC publishes its final report on the information highway entitled, Preparing Canada for a Digital World.
Canadian Heritage Minister Sheila Copps announces that the CBC will begin to receive stable funding for a five year term, starting in April 1998.
In April, the CRTC revises its commercial radio policies in a statement entitled, Commercial Radio Policy 1998 (Public Notice 1998-41). It proposes to bring Canadian content requirements for popular music stations up to 35%. In addition, the CRTC also publishes, A Policy Framework for the Introduction of Competition to the Satellite Relay Distribution Industry (Public Notice 1998-60).
Order in Council P.C. 1998-0800 (7 May, 1998) orders CRTC to reserve an AM or FM frequency in Toronto for use by other described services.
In June, the CRTC approves Star Choice Television Network Incorporated’s application to begin operating a second national satellite relay distribution undertaking (SDRU), but rejects Prime Time Canada’s application to do so (Decisions 98-172 to 98-174)
Thomson Newspapers Co. v. Canada (Attorney General)  1 S.C.R. 877 (May 29, 1998). Prohibition on broadcasting an opinion survey during the final three days of a federal election campaign held to be an unreasonable limit in light of the Charter.
In July, the CRTC announces a call for comments related to the regulation of new media in Canada (Public Notice 1998-82).
In April, Bell ExpressVu is granted a licence by the CRTC to begin a national satellite relay distribution undertaking (Decision 99-87). In addition, Bell Satellite Services Incorporated is granted a licence to begin the first national DTH pay-per-view service.
Bell Satellite Services will offer different types of programming on 22 English and 8 French language channels (Decision 99-88).
On May 17, the CRTC announces its New Media policy decision. The Commission states that “the majority of services now available on the internet consist predominantly of alphanumeric text, and, therefore, do not fall within the scope of the Broadcasting Act and are thus outside the Commission’s jurisdiction. Accordingly, the Commission will not regulate new media activities on the Internet under the Broadcasting Act” (Public Notice 1999-84).
In June, the CRTC announces its new regulatory policy designed to strengthen the financial state of the Canadian broadcasting system. It is called, Building on Success- A Policy Framework for Canadian Television (Public Notice 1999-97). It notes that the largest multi-station ownership groups should show at least 8 hours a week of Canadian programs from 7-11pm. It also contains a list of priority programming which includes Canadian drama, music, dance, variety, documentary and regionally produced programming.
In July, the CRTC announces revisions to its ethnic broadcasting policy of 1985 (Public Notice 1999-117). In 2000, it implements new regulatory amendments (Public Notice 2000-92). This includes the fact that ethic stations must have the same minimum Canadian content levels as non-ethnic stations.
Cabinet amends the Direction on foreign ownership, P.C. 1998-1268 (15 July, 1998). Restrictions apply where non- Canadians hold more than 20% of the seats on the board or the CEO is a non- Canadian.
In July, the CRTC approves Cancom and Star Choice’s merging of their satellite relay distribution undertakings (Decision 99-169).
The Standing Committee on Transport and Communication’s Senate Subcommittee on Communications publishes a report called, Wired to Win! Canada’s Positioning within the World’s Technological Revolution. In addition, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage publishes a report entitled, A Sense of Place, A Sense of Being. It recommends continuous, stable funding for the CBC. Lastly, the CBC also publishes its own report outlining its future plans called, Our Commitment to Canadians – The CBC’s Strategic Plan.
Telesat launches Canada’s first direct broadcast satellite, Nimiq.
In January, the CRTC, in an effort to provide more choice for Canadian viewers, announces its new policies in a statement entitled, Licensing Policy Framework for New Digital and Pay and Specialty Services (Public Notice 2000-6). It also streamlines its regulatory requirements for campus and community radio policy (Public Notice 2000-12 & 2000-13), and revises its definition of a Canadian program.
In June, Shaw Communications Incorporated is given approval by the CRTC to acquire Cancom (Decision 2000-213).
In July, Global Television becomes a national network when CanWest Global Communications Corporation purchases television assets from WIC Western International Communications Limited (Decision 2000-221). In return, CanWest must divest itself of some licences.
In October, as a response to two Orders-in-Council 2000-164 and 2000-1551, the CRTC announces it seeks public input in regards to better and more diverse radio and over-the-air television services in two of Canada’s most multicultural cities, Toronto and Vancouver (Public Notices 2000-144 & 2000-145). In 2001, it will announce measures that fulfill these requests (Public Notice 2001-10 & 2001-31).
On 24 November, CRTC announces that it will issue licences for four new video-on-demand (VOD) services and follows up with its VOD policy in Public Notice 2000-172 (14 December, 2000) and sets out the conditions of licence in Decisions 2000-733 to 736 (14 December, 2000).
In December, the CRTC approves applications and awards licences for 16 English language and 5 French language Category 1 digital specialty television services, and 262 Category 2 services (Public Notice 2000-171).
In December, BCE Incorporated, the largest telecommunications company in Canada, is given permission by the CRTC to take control of CTV Incorporated (Decision 2000-747).
CBC is given $60M in additional funding by the government, announced by the Prime Minister, Jean Chrétien. It also has its radio and television licences approved by the CRTC. The CBC is told to strengthen regional representation and to focus on improving its existing radio and television services.
In January, Françoise Bertrand steps down as CRTC Chair to become a partner at Groupe Secor, and in February David Colville again becomes interim Chairman, a position he will hold to the end of the year.
In February, the CRTC publishes a report entitled, Achieving a Better Balance: Reporting on French-Language Broadcasting Services in a Minority Environment. In it the CRTC states that one of its goals is to make sure that Canadians are provided with access to both English and French language specialty services and at least one pay service given the influx of new digital technologies.
In September, over 60 new digital television channels go on air.
The CRTC renews television licences for both CTV Incorporated and CanWest Global Communications for seven years and imposes a number of conditions on both entities. For example, both corporations must adhere to the Statement of Principles and Practices regarding cross-ownership of newspaper and television stations.
In January, Charles Dalfen becomes Chairman of the CRTC.
In April, the CRTC awards a licence to Craig Broadcasting Systems Incorporated to start up two over-the-air television stations that will serve both Toronto and Hamilton (Decisions 2002-81 & 2001-82).
In April, Astral Media Incorporated is given permission by the CRTC to buy 21 Telemedia radio stations in Quebec. In addition, it gives permission to Standard Radio Incorporated to buy 64 Telemedia stations in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario, and then to Rogers Broadcasting Limited and NewCap Incorporated to buy 14 or 15 of these stations from Standard Radio (Decisions 2002-90, 2002-91, 2002-92, 2002-93).
In June, the CRTC announces its new regulatory framework for the transition from analogue to digital over-the-air television (Public Notice 2002-31). The CRTC states that digital television will be treated as a replacement for analog which will ultimately provide viewers with a superior technical format.
Order in Council P.C. 2002-1043 (12 June, 2002) requests CRTC to enquire into Internet retransmission.
In July, the CRTC asks the public for input regarding a new broadcasting regulatory framework for internet retransmission of over-the-air radio and television signals (Public Notice 2002-38). It does this in response to an Order-in-Council (P.C. 2002-1043).
In October, the CRTC affirms its commitment to community access and local programming in its new policy statement on community-based media (Public Notice 2002-61)
In January 17, the CRTC reports to Cabinet regarding internet retransmission. The Commission states that “internet transmission cannot be considered a substitute for the activities of existing licensed over-the-air broadcasting or BDUs.” In addition, it notes that there is very little internet retransmission occurring and that it cannot be a substitute for over-the-air broadcasting or BDUs until it can perform similar functions less expensively, more conveniently, and with greater choice and higher quality (Public Notice 2003-2).
Barrie Public Utilities v. CCTA  1 S.C.R. 476 (May 16, 2003). Of importance to the cable TV industry, held that CRTC has jurisdiction over power poles of provincially regulated electric power companies.
In July, the CRTC issues a call for comments on proposals for the addition of non-Canadian satellite services to the list of services eligible for digital distribution. It proposes the addition of up to 15 non-Canadian satellite services. Possibilities include Al Jazeera and RAI International (Public Notice 2003-36).
In September, the CRTC issues a call for comments in support of Canadian television drama. It is concerned that foreign drama programs outstrip Canadian drama by a ratio of 9 to 1 (Public Notice 2003-54).
In November, the CRTC announces its new regulatory framework for digital television signal distribution. Generally the CRTC states that a broadcasting distribution undertaking’s obligations to distribute digital signals will be akin to the distribution of analogue signals (Public Notice 2003-61)
In July, the CRTC approves a request to add Al Jazeera to the list of eligible satellite services given three conditions: a) the licensee is required to retain an audio-visual recording of the Al Jazeera programming; (2) the licensee is prohibited from distributing abusive comment as part of the programming of Al Jazeera, and (3) the licensee is permitted to alter or curtail the programming of Al Jazeera solely for the purpose of ensuring that no abusive comment is distributed (Public Notice 2004-51). RAI International is denied.
SOCAN v. Canadian Association of Internet Providers et al.  2 S.C.R. 427. Those who provide only internet infrastructure are not properly to be considered “users” for purposes of the Copyright Act and therefore not liable for copyright payments.
On November 19th, CRTC approves the transfer of Craig Media, recently licensed for Toronto and Hamilton television in 2002, to CHUM Limited as Craig’s finances have collapsed. (Decision 2004-502)
Order in Council P.C. 2005-0380 directs CRTC to reserve two channels on cable TV for CPAC (parliamentary programming, inter alia), in English and French.
On June 16, the CRTC decides to authorize the introduction of two satellite and one terrestrial subscription radio undertakings in Canada (Decisions 2005-246-248)
CHOI-FM v. CRTC (Federal Court of Appeal, Sept 1, 2005) upholds CRTC Decision 2004-271 denying the licence. “Freedom of expression, freedom of opinion and freedom of speech do not mean freedom of defamation, freedom of oppression and freedom of opprobrium”.
On January 13, the CRTC announces that a review of commercial radio policy will be held in May in light of the major transformations taking place in the industry. (Public Notice 2006-1)
On February 27th, the CRTC’s policy framework for the “migration” of television services from analogue to digital channels is published. (Public Notice 2006-23)
The Telecom Policy Review panel (Sinclair, Intven, Tremblay) releases its report on March 22, 2006. (It is noted here because its scope of recommendations may “spill over” to related cable TV and broadcasting policy issues.) Telecom markets are being revolutionized by IP networks, broadband and wireless. Competition is strong enough to deregulate and rely on market forces. Cabinet should take responsibility for telecommunications policy. Eliminate the appeal to Cabinet.
The Radio Review Hearing takes place from May 15 to 18, 2006. The Canadian Association of Broadcasters, maintaining that controlled market entry (i.e. licensing) will no longer regulate audio services, basically requests that the status quo be maintained with a review in three years. CRTC notes the strong financial health of radio.
By Order in Council P.C. 2006-519 (8 June, 2006), Cabinet requests the CRTC to report on the future environment facing the whole broadcasting system.
On June 12th, the CRTC requests public comments to be filed by 1 September, 2006 on the issues raised in the above P.C 2006-519. (Public Notice 2006-72)
On June 12th, the CRTC calls a hearing for 27 November, 2006 to review the regulatory framework for over-the- air television, expressing concern about the declines in Canadian program production and viewing. (Public Notice 2006-5)
June 8th, Cabinet (Governor in Council) issues Order in Council P.C. 2006-519 requesting CRTC to report on the future environment facing the Canadian broadcasting system.
June 12th, CRTC calls for comments on the request, deadline for submissions – 1 September, 2006. (BPN CRTC 2006-72)
June 15th, Regulatory framework for licensing and distribution of high-definition pay and specialty services – the transition model. (BPN CRTC 2006-74)
June 30th, Broadcasting Policy Monitoring Report published – revenues increased by 9%, 74% of Canadian households have a computer.
July 21st, Bell Globemedia Inc’s application to change ownership is approved: Woodbridge increases its holdings to 40%, Teachers and Torstar hold 20% each, BCE reduced to 20%. No significant benefits required. Dissent by Commissioner Langford. (Decision CRTC 2006-309)
July 24th, Bell Globemedia (“BGM”) announces a take-over bid for CHUM Limited, involving 33 radio stations, 12 TV stations and 21 specialty channels, with the intention by BGM to divest of six A-Channel stations but not in the Toronto coverage area.
December 11th, CRTC finds that CBC’s broadcast of Sex Traffic and Old School at 8:00 PM violated the “watershed” provision, a condition of licence.
December 14th, Report to Cabinet on the future environment facing the Canadian broadcasting system (see above: 8 June, 2006) concluding that any impact of new media has been marginal to date.
December 15th, Results of CRTC’s Radio policy review. Increased funding required for Canadian programming. No increase to current requirement for 35% Canadian musical content on radio.
On December 31st, Charles Dalfen retires as Chair of the CRTC.
On January 12th, Revised lists of eligible satellite services (BPN CRTC 2007-2) set out the vast range of specialty services that are or could be available to the Canadian viewer.
On January 25th, Konrad von Finckenstein assumes the Chairmanship of the CRTC.
On February 1st, in an Information bulletin, CRTC once more explains why Canadians watching the U.S. Super Bowl football game do not see the American ads.
On February 7th, the CRTC announces an Exemption order for mobile television broadcasting undertakings that distribute over the Internet to mobile devices, e.g. cell phones. (BPN CRTC 2007-13)
On February 13th, Chairman issues statement to ensure that large cable company owners Shaw and Quebecor resume their monthly payments to support the Canadian Television Fund, noting serious issues to be resolved.
On February 20th, CRTC creates a Task Force on the Canadian Television Fund. (See above, 13 February)
On February 24th, Astral signs a letter of intent to buy most of Standard Broadcasting Corporation Ltd., owner of 52 radio stations. If approved Astral will control 81 AM and FM radio stations across Canada. (Standard’s 40% interest in Sirius satellite radio is not included.)
On March 20th, CRTC staff members appear before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage studying the CBC and the impact of technological change.
On March 28th, Report on the financial situation of Canadian television – revenues held steady, expenses up by 7.8%. U.S. program costs rose 12.2%, Canadian 6.3%.
April 12th, Astral announces signing of its deal to acquire Standard Broadcasting. (See 24 February above.)
April 13th,] sees publication of a CRTC Review to ensure the diversity of voices, including editorial, in the broadcasting system. Comments to be filed by 18 July, 2007, Public Hearing 17 September, 2007.
On April 30th, Public Hearing commences, chaired by Mr. von Finckenstein, of t he application by CTVglobemedia Inc. (formerly Bellglobemedia Inc.) to acquire CHUM Ltd. – total price $1,365 million, with “tangible benefits” of $103.5 million.
On May 2nd, financial results for Canadian private radio are released showing an increase in revenues of 5.7% and an increase in profits before interest and taxes (PBIT) of 2.7%, resulting in an annual PBIT margin of 20% in 2006. (CRTC News Release, May 2, 2007).
On May 16th, financial results for Canadian specialty, pay, pay-per-view and video on demand are released showing an increase in revenues of 12.4% and a PBIT margin of 20% in 2006. (CRTC News Release, May 16, 2007)
On May 17th, CRTC announces its Review of Television Policy, including a gradual elimination of the current restrictions on advertising time on television and denial of broadcasters request for a fee to them for carriage on cable and satellite.
On May 25th, Canwest’s transaction to take over Alliance Atlantis (“AA”) is approved regarding preliminary issues: CRTC approves AA’s separation of regulated from unregulated assets and establishment of a Trust to hold AA’s assets pending a late summer CRTC Hearing to consider the deal.
June 8th, sees CTVglobemedia Inc.és application to acquire CHUM Limited approved subject to the condition that it divest itself of CHUM‘s Citytv stations (CKVU-TV Vancouver; CKAL-TV Calgary; CKEM-TV Edmonton, CHMI-TV Portage La Prairie/Winnipeg; and CITY-TV and CITY-DT Toronto). (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2007-165).
On June 8th, the CRTC denies an application by Only Imagine Inc. to sell commercial advertising and insert it into the local availabilities of U.S. programming services distributed by Canadian BDUs. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2007-169).
On June 29th, CRTC releases the findings of its Task Force on the Canadian Television Fund (CTF), highlighting the importance of the role played by the CTF and the Canadian independent production sector. It recommends measures to improve the funding of Canadian programs, increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the CTF, and enhance the participation of BDUs in the CTF. (CRTC News Release June 29th, 2007).
On July 5th, Commission amends its preview and promotional channels policy to permit distributors to preview non-Canadian programming services originating from countries other than the United States. The Commission will also amend the BDU Regulations to permit the airing of previews on promotional channels. (Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2007-74).
July 24 was the date for an issuance of a number of mandatory orders by the CRTC to carry the following services; each of a) national, English-language digital specialty described video programming undertaking known as The Accessible Channel; b) CBC Newsworld in Francophone markets and Le Réseau de l’information in Anglophone markets; and c) Avis de Recherche were designated for mandatory distribution on digital basic by most BDUs. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2007-246).
On Sept. 12th, CRTC publishes its new policies relating to the obligations of BDUs to distribute video description of all programming services (Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2007-101).
On the same day, the CRTC releases the “Dunbar-Leblanc Report”, commissioned by the CRTC to examine the relevance of each broadcasting policy and regulation, and to make independent recommendations that would further the objective of more efficient regulation. (CRTC News Release, September 12, 2007).
On Sept. 28th Astral Media Radio Inc. acquires effective control of Standard Radio Inc. for over $1 billion and becomes Canada’s largest radio broadcaster. The tangible benefits package of almost $62 million is the largest in Canadian radio history. (Decision CRTC 2007-359). On the same day, the CRTC also approves the acquisition by Rogers of the Citytv stations that were ordered divested by CTVglobemedia on June 8th. The CRTC pegs the value of the transaction at $395 million and orders tangible benefits of $39.5 million to be contributed. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2007-360).
On October 5th, The Commission eliminates the winback rules applicable to incumbent cable broadcasting distribution undertakings that have 6,000 or more subscribers with respect to their provision of service in multiple-unit dwellings (Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2007-111).
On December 20th, the acquisition of Alliance Atlantis Broadcasting Inc.’s (AA) broadcasting companies by a company ultimately controlled by Canwest is approved. As a result of the transaction, effective control of AA’s 18 broadcasting specialty television services, 5 of which remained unlaunched at the time, were transferred to CW Media Inc. as was a minority interest in three other services and a 50% partnership interest in Historia and Séries+. The value of the transaction was established by the CRTC at over $1.5 billion and the required tangible benefits package was set at $151.25 million. Given the 65% equity stake of non-Canadian investment banker Goldman Sachs, the CRTC closely examined the foreign ownership aspects of the transaction. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2007-429)
On January 15th, “Diversity of voices” goals are established by the CRTC for Canadian radio and television ownership. These new rules generally preclude the ownership or control, by one person, of a) a local radio station, a local television station and a local newspaper serving the same market; b) all of the BDUs in a market; or c) specialty, pay and conventional television services with more than 45% of all television viewing in the same language in the same market. (Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2008-4)
January 15th, The Journalistic Independence Code proposed by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council is approved by the CRTC, although it seeks clarification on certain issues regarding the adjudication of complaints. (Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2008-5).
On March 4th, financial results for conventional television for 2007 are released, showing stable revenue and expenses and a slight increase in profits before interest and taxes from 4.24% to 5.2% of revenues. (CRTC News Release, March 4, 2008).
On March 17th, The Canadian Association of Broadcasters` 1990 Sex-Role Portrayal Code for Television and Radio Programming is replaced with a new Equitable Portrayal Code which contains standards for the portrayal of all identifiable groups. (Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2008-23).
On March 27th, the acquisition of BCE Inc. (and, consequently, a change in ownership of CTVglobemedia Inc.) by a consortium of bidders led by Teachers’ Private Capital, a division of Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board, is approved by the CRTC. The purchase price of $39.8 billion included Bell ExpressVu and a Quebec cable company owned by BCE. The deal is never consummated following Commission approval. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2008-69).
On April 25th, financial results for Canadian specialty, pay, pay-per-view, and VOD services for 2007 are released showing an increase in revenues of 9.1% and an increase in profits before interest and taxes (PBIT) of 13%, raising the annual PBIT margin to 23.75% in 2007. (CRTC News Release, April 25, 2008).
On May 15th a consultation on broadcasting in new media is launched by the CRTC in preparation for a public hearing to be held in 2009. (CRTC News Release, May 15, 2008).
On June 5th, following a CRTC public hearing on February 4-8, 2008, a report on the Canadian Television Fund(CTF) is submitted to the Minister of Canadian Heritage by the CRTC. It contains 11 recommendations relating to the CTF’s mandate and governance structure.
On June 26th, Remstar Diffusion inc. acquires all of the shares of TQS inc. from Cogeco (60%) and CTV (40%) and the CRTC grants a number of exceptions to its policies as a temporary measure justified by the technical bankruptcy of TQS and the continuation of its operations under the protection of the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2008-129). The CRTC also concurrently approves the acquisition of several of TQS’ television assets in the Province of Quebec by CBC. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2008-130).
On June 30th, the CRTC announces changes to its practices with respect to both the allocation, and the determination, of the “value of the transaction” for purposes of calculating tangible benefits in changes in the effective control of broadcasting undertakings. (Public Notice CRTC 2008-57).
On July 23rd, financial results for Canadian private radio are released showing an increase in revenues of 6.2% and an increase in profits before interest and taxes (PBIT) of 5.5%, resulting in an annual PBIT margin of 19.99% in 2007. (CRTC News Release, July 23, 2008).
On August 20th, CBC is authorized to launch a new Category 2 sports specialty service that would primarily focus on Canadian athletes, with a particular emphasis on amateur athletes. (Seventy days later the Commission would open the mainstream sports genre to competition). (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2008-192.)
As of October 20th, amendments to the Journalistic Independence Code regarding the selection of adjudicators and operation of the Journalistic Independence Panel are approved by the CRTC. (Public Notice CRTC 2008-95).
October 21st, Disclosure of aggregate financial data for large broadcasting distribution undertakings, multi-system operators and over-the-air television and radio ownership groups, (including Astral Media Inc., the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation/Societé Radio-Canada, CTVglobemedia Inc., Canwest Media Inc., Cogeco Inc., Corus Entertainment Inc., Newcap Inc., Quebecor Media Inc., Remstar Diffusion Inc., Rogers Communications Inc. and Shaw Communications Inc.) is ordered by the CRTC. (Public Notices CRTC 2008-97 & 97-1).
On October 30th, in a key regulatory development, the CRTC introduces new regulatory frameworks for both broadcasting distribution and discretionary programming services. Some of the areas addressed include the following:
•for BDUs: new packaging and access rules for Canadian programming services, new forms of advertising, issues relating to dispute resolution and the appropriate licensing and exemption regime for BDUs;
•for pay and specialty services: changes to the rules relating to the authorization of non-Canadian services, genre exclusivity and programming flexibility for Canadian services;
•for over-the-air television undertakings: distant signals, fee for carriage and support for local programming in smaller markets. (Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2008-100)
On October 30th, In public notices related to its determinations in Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 20i8-100 (above), the Commission calls for comments on changes to its regulatory regimes relating to video-on-demand undertakings, the sale of commercial advertising in the local avails of non-Canadian specialty services, and on new conditions of licence for competitive mainstream sports and national news specialty services. (Broadcasting Public Notices CRTC 2008-101, 2008-102 and 2008-103).
On January 29th, the Commission announces revised procedures that apply to staff-assisted mediation, final offer arbitration, and expedited hearings. (Broadcasting Information Bulletin CRTC 2009-28.)
On February 11th, a new policy regarding the broadcast of hits by English-language FM radio stations is announced by the CRTC which decides to a) eliminate restrictions on the broadcast of hits by commercial FM radio stations in English-language markets, b) maintain the current restrictions on the broadcast of hits by English-language commercial FM radio stations in the bilingual markets of Montréal and Ottawa-Gatineau, and c) update the list of charts used to determine hits. (Regulatory Regulatory Policy CRTC 2009-61).
On March 4th, in response to a complaint filed by Canadian Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, the CRTC finds that there is not enough evidence to conclusively show that Canwest’s plan to shift elements of local program production from its television stations to broadcast centres in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto would contravene Canwest’s local programming broadcasting obligations. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2009-115.)
On April 8th, the CRTC dismisses Mr. John Turmel’s complaint regarding a candidates debate program that had been broadcast during the 2007 Ontario provincial election by Rogers Cable Communications Inc. Mr. Turmel had argued that Rogers had breached regulations regarding the equitable allocation of time for programs of a partisan political character by expelling him from the program, while Rogers cited Mr. Turmel’s refusal to comply with the rules of the debate despite the fact that he had not expressed any concerns when he was presented with the debate rules and format prior to the debate. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2009-184).
On May 5th, the CRTC clarifies certain issues for licensees of commercial radio stations with respect to Canadian content development (CCD) contributions. The Commission institutes deadlines for making “over and above” CCD contributions, and creates exceptions to the requirement to contribute to FACTOR and Musicaction, as well as CCD information that must be filed with annual returns. (Broadcasting Information Bulletin CRTC 2009-251).
On June 4th, the CRTC publishes its review on Canadian broadcasting in new media, in which it decides to retain new media broadcasting undertakings’ exempt status, amend the definition of new media broadcasting undertakings to include point-to-point mobile broadcasting undertakings, introduce reporting requirements and undue preference provisions for new media broadcasting undertakings and fully endorse the development of a national digital strategy. The Commission announces that it will refer the legal issue of whether or not the Broadcasting Act should be applied to Internet service providers to the Federal Court of Appeal. (Regulatory Policy CRTC 2009-329.)
In a decision dated June 11th, the CRTC approves an application by Pelmorex Communications Inc. to make it mandatory for all direct-to-home satellite distribution undertakings and Class 1 broadcasting distribution undertakings (BDUs) to distribute The Weather Network and MétéoMédia on the digital basic service starting on September 1, 2010 and continuing until August 31, 2015. In addition, Pelmorex will act as a national aggregator and distributor of emergency alert messages, which will be available free-of-charge to BDUs on a voluntary basis. (Broadcasting Order CRTC 2009-340).
On July 6th, the CRTC publishes its findings on the Local Programming Improvement Fund (LPIF), appropriate contributions to Canadian programming (with a particular emphasis on addressing issues related to local, priority and independently-produced programming), the implementation of the new distant signal policy, digital transition and terms of trade. Significantly, the CRTC decides that broadcasting distribution undertakings should allocate 1.5% of their gross revenues to the LPIF. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 406 & 406-1).
On July 21st, the CRTC addresses a variety of unresolved issues related to the accessibility of telecommunications and broadcasting services to persons with disabilities. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2009-430 & 430-1).
As stated by the CRTC on June 4th (see above),on July 28th the CRTC refers to the Federal Court of Appeal the legal issue as to whether Internet service providers carry on, in whole or in part, “broadcasting undertakings” subject to the Broadcasting Act when they provide access to broadcasting through the Internet. (Broadcasting Order CRTC 2009-452).
On August 11th, following a rare reference back from the Governor-in-Council, the CRTC reconfirms its 2008 approval of applications by Astral Media Radio Inc. and by Frank Torres for licences to operate new English-language commercial FM radio stations to serve Ottawa and Gatineau. In addition, the CRTC approves an application by Radio de la communauté francophone d’Ottawa for a broadcasting licence to operate a new French-language Type B community FM radio station. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2009-481).
On August 11th, the CRTC issued a news release indicating that it will examine de novo the establishment of a framework for the negotiation of a fair market value of the conventional and distant television signals carried by satellite and cable providers. (CRTC News Release August 11, 2009).
On August 31st, in response to 250 complaints and a petition with over 2,000 signatures regarding the New Year’s Eve broadcast of Bye Bye 2008 on CBC’s Radio-Canada service, the CRTC finds that CBC failed to meet the requirement for high standards set out in the Broadcasting Act as well as the Television Broadcasting Regulations, 1987. The CRTC indicated that it expected the licensee to issue an apology to its viewers and to implement immediately mechanisms it will use to ensure that it satisfies its regulatory obligations and conditions of licence in the future. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2009-548).
Also on August 31st, the CRTC approved the application by La Magnétothèque to make it mandatory for all Class 1 and Class 2 cable broadcasting distribution undertakings (BDUs), direct-to-home (DTH) distributors and multipoint distribution system (MDS) distributors to distribute the programming of La Magnétothèque on their basic service (analog or digital). The CRTC also approves the request by La Magnétothèque to charge BDUs a maximum monthly wholesale rate of $0.02 per subscriber and allows La Magnétothèque to air up to four minutes of advertising in any clock hour. (Broadcasting Order CRTC 2009-542).
Additionally on August 31st, the CRTC amends numerous policies and implements new regulations relating to, among other things, a) new forms of targeted advertising, b) the evidentiary burden must be applied when assessing complaints of undue preference or disadvantage against BDUs, c) the requirement that BDUs make monthly contributions to the Local Programming Improvement Fund, d) the prohibition against the withholding of signals by pay television and specialty television licensees during disputes with BDUs, and e) the prohibition against the giving an undue preference to any person or subjecting of any person to an undue disadvantage by television broadcasting undertakings. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2009-543).
On the same day, the CRTC sets out a new exemption order for terrestrial broadcasting distribution undertakings (BDUs) that serve fewer than 20,000 subscribers. (Broadcasting Order CRTC 2009-544).
On September 4th, the CRTC announces that it will publicly disclose the aggregate financial data for owners of large broadcasting distribution undertakings, multi-system operators and conventional television and radio ownership groups. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2009-560).
On September 4th, The Commission issues standard conditions of licence for competitive Canadian mainstream sports and national news specialty services. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2009-562 & 562-1).
On September 18th, the CRTC finds that Rogers subjected Allarco to an undue disadvantage in regard to the marketing of Allarco’s Super Channel service contrary to section 9 of the Broadcasting Distribution Regulations, but finds that there is insufficient evidence to establish that Rogers has given an undue preference to Astral Broadcasting Group Inc. Rogers is given a month to establish the steps it will take to ensure that its marketing of Super Channel complies with the Regulations. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2009-588).
On September 22nd, the CRTC finds that that the sale of exclusive sponsorship opportunities by TVA Group Inc. (to its affiliate Videotron) did not result in an undue preference to Videotron or an undue disadvantage to the Bell ExpressVu Limited Partnership. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2009-590).
On October 2nd, at the request of the Government of Canada, the CRTC announces that it will hold a public hearing beginning December 7th relating to the implications and advisability of implementing a compensation regime for the value of local television signals. (CRTC News Release October 2, 2009).
On October 22nd, the CRTC expands its definition of “new media broadcasting undertakings” to encompass all Internet-based and mobile point-to-point broadcasting services. It also imposes an undue preference prohibition on new media broadcasting undertakings and now may require new media broadcasting undertakings to report information relevant to their operations to the Commission upon request. (Broadcasting Order CRTC 2009-660)
On November 2nd, the CRTC sets out details relating to the Local Programming Improvement Fund (LPIF), a new fund designed to improve the quality of local programming in non-metropolitan television markets across Canada. (Broadcasting Information Bulletin CRTC 2009-686)
On November 26th, the CRTC dismisses a complaint from Quebecor Media Inc. which argued that the practices used by Bell TV to combat signal theft were insufficient and outdated. (Broadcasting Decisions CRTC 2009-726 & 726-1).
On November 30th, the CRTC opens an online consultation asking Canadians for their views relating to the future of television. This consultation formed part of the public hearing that would begin on December 7, 2009, in Gatineau, Que. which in turn responded to a request by the federal government that the CRTC submit a report following the public hearing. The CRTC noted that it was looking at various options, including the possibility of negotiations between local stations and cable and satellite companies to determine the value of television signals. (CRTC News Release November 30, 2009).
January 8th, The CRTC allows Rogers Sportsnet Inc. to replace its current conditions of licence with the standard conditions set out in Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2009-562. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2010-4)
February 1st, The CRTC allows The Sports Network (TSN) to replace its current conditions of licence with the standard conditions set out in Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2009-562 (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2010-49). Similar decisions are announced for Le Canal Nouvelles (LCN) (on February 12th) and for CBC SportsPlus (on February 16th), allowing them to amend their respective broadcasting licences accordingly.
March 2nd, The CRTC approves Rogers Broadcasting Limited’s application to create Rogers’ Mainstream Sports Specialty Service, a competitive mainstream sports specialty service. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2010-124)
March 18th, The CRTC releases the 2009 financial results for both Canadian broadcasting distribution companies and conventional television stations. While the results for the former show that that sector of the broadcast industry continued its strong performance (with total revenues growing by $1.1 billion to reach $11.4 billion in 2009), the results for the latter show that the total revenues for private broadcasters shrunk by 7.9%, going from $2.14 billion in 2008 to $1.97 billion in 2009. Even though the operating expenses of private broadcasters were cut by 2.4%, they still lost $116.4 million before interest and taxes over the 2009 broadcast year and had a negative profit margin of 5.9%. (CRTC News Release)
March 22nd, The CRTC publishes its findings on a group-based approach to the licensing of large English-language private television ownership groups addressing such topics as Canadian programming expenditures, Canadian content requirements, programs of national interest, maintaining local programming, expenditures on non-Canadian programming, Canadian independent production, regional production, continuing application of social policies, ownership issues, administrative renewals and the appropriate length of licence term. The CRTC also addressed issues pertaining to revenue support for English- and French-language television broadcasters by reviewing the Local Programming Improvement Fund. Finally, the Commission decided what a value for signal regime would look like but referred the question of the Commission’s jurisdiction to implement such a regime to the Federal Court of Appeal for expedited hearing and determination. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2010-167 and Broadcasting Order CRTC 2010-168)
March 29th, The CRTC determines that the net benefit from the sale of commercial advertising for insertion in local availabilities of non-Canadian program services had not been sufficiently demonstrated and therefore decides to retain its current policy precluding the practice. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2010-189)
March 29th, The CRTC announces its proposed regulatory framework for video-on-demand (VOD) undertakings. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2010-190)
March 30th, ZoomerMedia Limited, on behalf of itself and on behalf of Christian Channel Inc. and ONE: The Body, Mind and Spirit Channel Inc., acquires VisionTV and the shares of Christian Channel Inc., Vision TV Digital Inc., and MZ Media for $25 million. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2010-193)
April 14th, The CRTC denies the CBC’s application to change its broadcasting licence for its specialty service “bold” and gives the CBC thirty days to submit a new proposal. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2010-214)
April 19th, The CRTC revises its licence trafficking policy in an effort to reduce the regulatory burden on both broadcasters and the Commission, while ensuring the integrity of the licensing process. The new policy requires new services to run for a minimum of two years after they are initially launched in an effort to ensure greater predictability and efficiency in the licensing process. (Information Bulletin CRTC 2010-220)
April 22nd, The CRTC releases the 2009 financial results for specialty, pay and pay-per-view television services and video-on-demand services, finding that the profits before interest and taxes for these services improved to $728.7 million, up 23.5% from the $648.2 million they earned before taxes in 2008, thus continuing the upward trend from the previous year’s 22.1% increase in revenues. (CRTC News Release)
June 3rd, The CRTC releases the 2009 financial results for Canada’s commercial radio industry, finding that Canada’s AM and FM radio stations generated $272 million in profits before taxes and interest. Income and expenses both fell in 2009, with the amount of income generated falling 5.2% to $1.5 billion and expenses dropping 1.7% to $1.2 billion dollars. As a result, the profit margin for Canada`s commercial radio industry shrunk from 21% in 2008 to 18% in 2009. (CRTC News Release)
June 18th, The CRTC approves the application by the Toronto Maple Leafs Network Ltd. to operate Mainstream Sports, a national, English-language service devoted to all aspects of sports with an emphasis on mainstream Canadian professional sports. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2010-395)
June 18th, The CRTC grants a broadcasting licence to the CBC for Radio-Canada Sports, a national, French-language channel devoted to the broadcast of programs dealing with various aspects of sports with a particular emphasis on Canadian mainstream professional sports and under-represented and amateur Canadian sports. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2010-396)
July 8th, in response to a complaint launched against the allegedly inappropriate sexual material being aired during daytime hours on the March 20th, 2009 broadcast of The Dean Blundell Show on CFNY-FM Brampton, the CBSC investigation into the matter finds that CFNY-FM Brampton did not fail to meet the objective of the Broadcasting Act that programming be of a high standard. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2010-463)
July 16th, The CRTC reaches a number of conclusions regarding the transition from analog to digital over-the-air transmitters on August 31, 2011. The Commission revises its estimate of the number of Canadians who could potentially lose service as a result of the transition to over-the-air digital television and which would require digital converter boxes to maintain access to over-the-air services after the transition. The Commission agrees to allow broadcasting distribution undertakings to provide a free package consisting of all local and regional conventional television signals currently available over-the-air in a given market on the conditions that no other television services are provided in conjunction with the local package and access to the local package is not conditional on the purchase of any other services. Possible measures to educate consumers regarding the DTV transition were also discussed. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy 2010-485)
July 22nd, The CRTC revises its policy on campus and community radio, deciding to establish a single policy for both and to make provision for differences between the two types of stations where appropriate. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2010-499)
August 12th, The CRTC denies Média de Novo Inc.`s proposal to sell commercial advertising for insertion in the local availabilities of non-Canadian programming services and over advertisements on Canadian stations distributed in distant markets. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2010-570)
August 13th, The CRTC announces its approach to establishing reporting requirements for new media broadcasting undertakings (NMBUs) beginning with the NMBUs that are affiliated with licensed broadcasting undertakings and establishing a Working Group to assess further requirements. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2010-582)
August 18th, The CRTC issues its determinations regarding a request for dispute resolution over Rogers Cable Communications Inc.’s distribution of ShopTV Canada. The Commission finds that Rogers Cable Communications Inc. is not in compliance with a section of the Broadcasting Distribution Regulations relating to the distribution of third-party programming undertakings, but that Torstar Corporation failed to demonstrate that the rate charged for its exempt programming undertaking is inappropriate. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2010-590)
August 26th, The CRTC sets out its community television policy, deciding among other things that by the broadcast year of 2014, all licensees of community television channels must expend an amount equal to 50% of community programming-related expenditures on access programming, that all regulations regarding the funding of community channels by BDUs will remain in place while the CRTC examines the issue further, and that the public service orientation of community channels is best achieved through stable funding provided by licensed BDU (and thus will keep the restrictions on advertising that force a limited reliance on advertising revenues by community channels). (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2010-622)
August 27th, The Commission announced the criteria that it will use in assessing applications for mandatory distribution on the digital basic service pursuant to an order issued under section 9(1)(h) of the Broadcasting Act. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2010-629)
September 28th, The CRTC finds that the 25 January 2009 and 31 May 2009 broadcasts of Jack Van Impe Presents on CKND-TV Winnipeg did not violate the Broadcasting Act. A viewer had filed a complaint against the program because the televangelist’s assertions that the world was coming to an end in 2012 and that only Christians would be saved would be traumatizing to children watching and because the use of the term “a war on Islam” led the viewer to believe the program was spreading a hate-filled message. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2010-716)
October 22nd, The CRTC permits Shaw Communications Inc. to take control of Canwest Global Communications Corp.’s licensed broadcasting subsidiaries. The CRTC determined that the value of this transaction was $2.047 billion. In light of this and several other consolidation transactions in recent years, The CRTC launches a consultation on the possible effects of this trend toward vertical integration in the Canadian broadcasting industry and a public proceeding to review its safeguards to prevent anti-competitive behaviour. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2010-782)
November 19th, The CRTC decides against opening up the French-language general interest pay television services genre to competition, although in light of the genre’s popularity and Super Écran’s advantageous financial situation, the Commission acknowledges that a second complementary service to Super Écran could be viable. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2010-861)
November 26th, The CRTC approves an application from the Sun TV News General Partnership, (a partnership consisting of TVA Group Inc. and Sun Media Corporation), to create and operate Sun TV News, a national English-language specialty service. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2010-882)
December 17th, Corus Entertainment Inc. transfers control of its Quebec radio stations to Cogeco Inc. Cogeco is granted an exception to the Common Ownership Policy that limited the number of radio stations that it was authorized to operate in the Montréal radio market. The transaction is valued at $97.7 million. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2010-942)
January 26th, TELUS Communications Company and Bell Canada brought multiple complaints against Videotron Ltd. for not permitting the distribution of TVA programming on the VOD service of TELUS or Bell. The CRTC dismisses some of these complaints, but rules that the TVA programs must be provided to TELUS and to Bell immediately and that all parties must agree on a process for determining a reasonable fee and reasonable terms and conditions thirty days. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2011-48)
January 28th, The CRTC revokes the broadcasting licence for CKLN-FM Toronto due the serious and continuous nature of the licensee’s non-compliance with numerous regulatory obligations, the station’s inability to institute the measures necessary to ensure ongoing compliance, and the lack of confidence on the part of the Commission that such measures could or would be instituted within a reasonable amount of time and as such. The station, operated by Ryerson University, is given two weeks to cease broadcasting. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2011-56)
January 31st, The CRTC establishes the standard conditions of licence that will apply to new video-on-demand undertakings and to existing VOD licensees at the time of their licence renewal. Among other matters, these provisions include a definition of “gross annual revenue” for calculating a VOD undertaking’s contribution to Canadian independent production funds, limitations to prevent subscription VOD (SVOD) packages from directly competing with Canadian linear discretionary services, permission to advertise in programming acquired from licensed Canadian broadcasters, and a reverse onus provision in respect of undue preference allegations. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2011-59)
March 7th, The CRTC approves BCE Inc.’s application to take effective control of CTVglobemedia Inc.’s licensed broadcasting subsidiaries. The CRTC requires BCE to spend $245 million over the next seven broadcast years in tangible public benefits. These include commissioning independently produced programs of national interest that promote Canadian culture ($100 million), enhancing local news in Western markets ($28.8 million), enabling the carriage of at least 43 additional television services ($60 million), sustaining the A-Channel stations for at least three years starting on 1 September 2011 ($30 million), funding an independent Broadcasting Accessibility Fund that will improve the accessibility of the Canadian broadcasting system ($5.7 million), creating an independent fund to help pay the costs of public interest groups that participate in Commission broadcasting proceedings ($3 million), and supporting the development of Canadian musical and spoken word talent ($17.5 million). (Broadcasting Decision CRC 2011-163)
March 18th, The CRTC sets out measures that will simplify the process when customers wish to change the provider from which they receive telecommunications and/or broadcasting services, although no changes are made to the existing rules governing inside wire, quality of service standards, access agreements, and the use of local availabilities in the broadcasting distribution market. In particular, the new service provider may provide notice to the former service provider regarding the change, rather than requiring the customer to take that step. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2011-191)
March 18th, The CRTC publishes the “Conversion from Analog to Digital Television Regulations” which requires licensed television broadcasters to broadcast Public Service Announcements relating to the conversion to digital television on August 31, 2011. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2011-198)
April 11th, The CRTC approves the “merger” of satellite radio licensees Canadian Satellite Radio Inc. and Sirius Canada Inc. pursuant to which both will be wholly-owned subsidiaries of Canadian Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. No tangible benefits are required given the financial situation of the licensees. However, the CRTC imposes a number of conditions of approval including the carriage of Aboriginal programming and a price freeze. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2011-240)
May 3rd, The CRTC, by majority decision, agrees to allow the CBC to amend the broadcasting licence of its television station “bold” in order to broadcast programming that reflects the living realities of rural Canadians by providing information, interaction and entertainment programming dedicated to reflecting the lives of rural Canadians. The CRTC used the three distinct segments of the rural populations as defined by Statistics Canada, (individuals from rural non-metro adjacent areas, rural metro adjacent areas and rural northern areas), to define “Rural Canadians.” (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2011-369).
June 9th, The CRTC approves an application for a new radio licence by Intercity Broadcasting Network Inc. to be operated at 98.7 MHz and targeting the local Caribbean and African communities. Notwithstanding that the frequency is close to that of one of the CBC’s Toronto services, Industry Canada approved the use of the frequency by Intercity as a “special case”. The CRTC also approved the use of that frequency over the objections of CBC and other broadcasters, noting that Industry Canada had clarified that it is Intercity’s responsibility to solve any valid cases of interference caused to the affected stations identified in the technical certificate of acceptance. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2011-369)
June 10th, The CRTC rules in favour of Quebecor Media Inc. after they launched a complaint against Bell Canada in December 2010, claiming that Bell’s plan to repackage The Cave, (one of QMI’s subsidiaries) would constitute an undue preference to Bell and an undue disadvantage to QMI. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2011-371)
On June 17th, the CRTC announced that it would hold a hearing on September 12th, to consider the CBC’s applications for the renewal of all their various English and French radio, conventional television and specialty services. However, on July 8th the CRTC announced that it was postponing the licence renewal hearing for the CBC until June 2012.
The Commission advised that the decision had been made for two reasons. First, it was made further to a request by the Quebec English-language Production Committee (QEPC) for the same data that had been available for the group-based licence renewals for private English-language television, held in April 2011.
Second, the CBC/SRC had that day advised that the federal government had not yet established the future operating budget for the CBC. The CRTC believed therefore that it would be inappropriate to impose licence conditions given this uncertainty. Consequently, the CRTC decided to postpone the renewal hearing until June 2012. A revised notice of consultation will be issued in due course, with new procedural dates.
July 22nd, The CRTC renews The Weather Network/Météomédia (TWN/MM) from September 1st, 2011 to August 31st, 2018 and also decides that it will continue to make distribution of The Weather Network/Météomédia mandatory on the digital basic service from August 31st, 2015 to August 31st, 2018, provided that certain conditions regarding the National Alert Aggregation and Dissemination (NAAD) System are satisfied. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2011-438)
July 27th, The CRTC implements its group-based licensing policy for large private English-language ownership groups. The policy includes a reduced focus on Canadian exhibition and a greater emphasis on ensuring stable funding to Canadian production through programming expenditure requirements, (particularly so for programming that is under-represented in the Canadian broadcasting system) and a greatly increased level of flexibility in the manner in which television services make and account for Canadian programming expenditures. The changes apply to conventional television stations, Category A, Category B and Category C services, and the television services of Bell Media Inc., Shaw Media Inc., Corus Entertainment Inc., and Rogers Media Inc. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2011-441)
August 16th, The CBC is given an additional year (to August 31, 2012) to convert its over the air analog television service to digital in 22 mandatory markets. Otherwise, those transmitters would have ceased operation by no later than August 31, 2011. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2011-494)
On January 24th, Konrad von Finckenstein’s five-year term as Chairman of the CRTC expires. On January 25th, Vice-Chairman Leonard Katz is appointed as interim Chairman.
January 25th, Vice-Chairman of Telecommunications, Leonard (Len) Katz, is appointed Acting Chairman of the CRTC until the Government of Canada appoints a new Chairperson. He would remain Acting Chairman until June 2012. (CRTC News Release January 25, 2012)
February 14th, The CRTC decides that it will continue to license satellite relay distribution undertakings, (SRDUs) (rather than exempting them from licensing), incorporate the transport of pay and specialty services into SRDU licences, and continue to employ its current dispute resolution process when addressing the concerns pertaining to the amounts that the Bell DTH undertaking charges Canadian pay services for the transport of their signals in cases where they do not need to use Bell’s SRDU facilities. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2012-56)
February 21st, The CRTC approves the French-language Closed Captioning Working Group’s proposal for the imposition of mandatory standards regarding the monitoring of the accuracy rate of captions, adding these mandatory standards to the previously established closed captioning mandatory standards. In order to provide the French-language broadcasters with an appropriate amount of time to prepare for the implementation of these new mandatory standards, the Commission establishes September 1st, 2012 as the date on which the mandatory standards will come into effect. Among other new standards, the lag time between the audio and the captions for live programming must (on average) not exceed five seconds, captioning for pre-recorded programs must target an accuracy rate of 100% (including spelling), captioning for live programming must reach an accuracy rate of at least 85% averaged over the program, and each broadcaster must calculate the accuracy rate for two programs containing live content every month. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2012-741-1),
(On February 11th, the CAB had submitted the final report of the English-language Closed Captioning Working Group (EN-CCWG). In the report, the Working Group indicated that it had reached consensus on the majority of issues, specifically, those relating to the appropriate format and speed for live, pre-recorded programming and children’s programming. There were however issues on which consensus had not been achieved).
March 15th, The CRTC institutes a new mechanism by which it hopes to ensure that the dollar value of contributions by BDUs to local expression remains at current levels. The CRTC decided that the maximum dollar contribution to local expression by each terrestrial BDU licensee will be based on the amount contributed by the licensee during the broadcast year ending 31 August 2010, which will be adjusted yearly for inflation. The contribution level of new entrants will be set at 1.5% of gross annual revenues from broadcasting activities. In the case of existing BDUs that have undergone changes in structure and size, the CRTC will take various factors into consideration in helping to determine the allowable contribution level for the BDU. Each licensed BDU will be required to comply with these standards when this mechanism is implemented on September 1st, 2012. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2012-154)
March 26th, The CRTC approves a proposal for the establishment and operation of the Broadcasting Participation Fund Inc. This independent fund will help public-interest and consumer groups offset the costs of participating in the CRTC’s broadcasting proceedings. The fund will also support groups in the research, analysis and advocacy of issues related to broadcasting proceedings, and will be required to provide services and publish documents in both official languages. The CRTC directed the fund to start providing cost support to public interest groups and consumer groups within 60 days provided that BCE Inc. and the Public Interest Advocacy Centre file signed and dated executed copies of the requested documents as well as the agreements amended according to Commission’s directions within 30 days of this decision. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2012-181 and CRTC News Release March 26, 2012).
April 4th, The CRTC released the 2011 financial results for Canadian cable and satellite companies and Canadian conventional television stations.
The cable and satellite sector demonstrated sustained growth as the total revenues climbed from $12.5 billion to $13.5 billion from a year ago. Operating expenses also increased during the same period, rising 10.7% from $5.5 billion to $6.1 billion, due in part to investments in new technology and equipment, as well as higher affiliation payments to the pay and specialty services that these companies distribute. However, the number of Canadian households that subscribed to a cable company’s basic television service increased by 2.8% to reach 8.5 million in 2011 while the number of subscribers to satellite companies did not change from last year, remaining at 2.9 million people. Although there was little change in the profits before interest and taxes (PBIT) for cable companies, which came in at $2.5 billion, the PBIT margin declined slightly from 25.3% to 23.1%. The satellite companies reported a PBIT of $174.6 million, up from $163.9 million in 2010, while the PBIT margin remained almost unchanged at 6.9%.
Revenues for private conventional television stations were nearly identical in 2010 and 2011 ($2.147 billion to $2.153 billion respectively), but by cutting 7.2% from their operating expenses, (from $2.05 billion to $1.9 billion), broadcasters were able to improve their PBIT from $11.5 million to $160.6 million in one year. Both the PBIT and the PBIT margin reached their highest levels since 2005. The Commission also released financial data in respect of the CBC and noted that, in 2011, the national public broadcaster reported advertising revenues of $369.6 million, which represented a 9.1% increase from revenues of $338.8 million the previous year. (CRTC News Release April 4, 2012)
April 26th, In its first ever French-language “group” renewals, the CRTC considered the group licence applications of Astral Media Inc., and Quebecor Media Inc. (“QMI”). It also reviewed the performance of the stations of V Interactions inc. The CRTC renewed the broadcasting licences for specialty and pay television services operated by the Astral Media Inc. broadcasting ownership group for a five-year term from 1 September 2012 to 31 August 2017. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2012-241). On the same day, the CRTC renewed the broadcasting licences for the national, French-language television network TVA and the conventional television stations associated with that network, as well as the specialty services affiliated with the QMI broadcasting ownership group for a three-year term, from 1 September 2012 to 31 August 2015. QMI agreed at the hearing to a commitment to devote an average of 80% of its programming expenditures for the current year to Canadian programming expenditures, however because this percentage was considerably lower than TVA’s average for the last three years, the Commission imposed a condition of licence to this effect. The Commission also imposed a condition of licence requiring QMI to spend $20 million per broadcast year on programs by independent producers. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2012-242). Although the licences of V’s stations were not up for renewal as they do not expire until 2015, the CRTC also reviewed their conditions of licence and determined that V Interactions must gradually increase the hours dedicated each week to priority programming from 3 to 5 by 2014. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2012-243)
May 1st, The CRTC releases aggregate statistical and financial summaries for Canadian specialty, pay, pay-per-view (PPV) and video-on-demand (VOD) television services in 2011. The results indicate that there is still a strong demand for these services as profits before interest and taxes improved to $930.5 million from the $873.9 million generated in 2010. (CRTC News Release, May 5, 2012)
May 8th, The CRTC makes amendments to the Television Broadcasting Regulations, 1987, the Specialty Services Regulations, 1990 and the Broadcasting Distribution Regulations, 1997, so that the broadcasting industry must now adopt measures to ensure that commercial messages and regular programs are broadcast at an even volume by September 1, 2012. BDUs with fewer than 2000 subscribers are not required to comply with the new regulations. In a news release, the Acting Chairman of the CRTC, Leonard Katz, stated that “The rules [the CRTC] published bring us a step closer to our goal of eliminating loud TV ads.” (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2012-273 and CRTC News Release, May 8, 2012)
May 16th, The CRTC releases statistical and financial summaries for individual Canadian specialty, pay, pay-per-view (PPV) and video-on-demand (VOD) television services from 2007-2011. (CRTC Report, May 16, 2012)
May 22nd, The CRTC issues its new standard conditions of licence for campus and community radio stations flowing from its new regulatory approach announced in Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2010-497. Previously, there were two separate policies for campus and community radio stations, however given the similarities of their roles in the communities they serve, the CRTC decided that it would be appropriate to regulate both campus and community stations by means of a single policy, while allowing for variations in their respective mandates. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2012-304)
May 25th, The CRTC changes the conditions of licence for competitive Canadian mainstream sports and national news specialty services by changing their definition of what constitutes a “broadcast day” for mainstream sports services. Previously, a broadcast day was automatically defined as, “the period of up to 18 consecutive hours, beginning each day not earlier than six o’clock in the morning and ending not later than one o’clock in the morning of the following day, as selected by the licensee.” Under the new conditions of licence, existing specialty Category C services that would prefer a 24-hour broadcast day can submit an application to the Commission. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2009-562-2)
June 4th, The CRTC releases the 2011 financial results for Canadian commercial radio stations. Revenues increased by approximately 4% over the previous year and are now back to pre-recession levels. Thirteen new FM radio stations were created bringing the number of FM stations operating in Canada to 535, while the number of AM radio stations declined from 141 in 2010 to 134 in 2011 as a number of stations converted to the FM band. (CRTC News Release, June 4, 2012).
June 21st, The CRTC approves Rogers Broadcasting Limited’s purchase of the Saskatchewan Communications Network. In its decision the Commission noted that Rogers’ purchase would ensure the survival of SCN and that Rogers had committed to maintain SCN’s designation as Saskatchewan’s educational broadcaster. Rogers was directed to contribute $300,000 (10% of the purchase price) to the Rogers Digital Development Fund over the course of seven consecutive broadcast years as tangible benefits. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2012-339)
July 5th, The CRTC sets the mandatory quality standards for English-language closed captioning which will come into effect on September 1, 2012. Some of the new mandatory standards are that the lag time between the audio and the captions for live programming must not exceed six seconds (averaged over the duration of the program); that the closed captions for live programming must be 95% accurate and for pre-recorded programming the target is 100%; and that the captions do not block other on-screen information. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2012-362)
June 7th, The Harper Government announces the appointment of Jean-Pierre Blais as the new Chair of the CRTC for a five year term beginning June 18, 2012. Mr. Blais’ most recent post was at Treasury Board, the management board of government. He also served in a senior position at Canadian Heritage as assistant deputy minister of cultural affairs, responsible for files including copyright and cultural industries. A lawyer by training, he previously served as executive director of broadcasting at the CRTC as well as general counsel, broadcasting.
July 16th, The CRTC approves the application by High Fidelity HDTV Inc. to allow effective control to be exercised by Blue Ant Media Inc. The CRTC determines the value of the regulated assets involved in this transaction to be $79,957,672 and requires tangible benefits in the amount of $7,995,767 (i.e., 10% of value of the transaction). (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2012-381)
July 18th, The CRTC reviews the local programming improvement fund (LPIF), and decides that it will gradually phase it out by September 1, 2014. While the CRTC found that the LPIF had assisted local television stations over the past two years in maintaining and enhancing local programming in non-metropolitan areas, it also felt that it would be inappropriate to maintain the LPIF in the long term as a result of the fact that it is funded by subscribers and conventional television financial results had improved since it was implemented. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2012-385)
July 19th, The CRTC makes amendments to the Broadcasting Distribution Regulations, 1997 relating to the mechanism for the funding of local expression by broadcasting distribution undertakings. A BDU’s required contribution to local expression will now be based on its earnings from 2010 and adjusted annually to account for inflation. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2012-392)
July 20th, The CRTC releases its decision regarding two disputes involving Bell Media, Telus and the Canadian Independent Distributors Group, concerning four matters:
the packaging of programming services so that consumer choice is enhanced while ensuring that the objectives set out in the Broadcasting Act are fulfilled;
making non-linear programming rights available on commercially reasonable terms; and
a final offer arbitration (FOA) process to set rates.
In regard to the dispute between Bell Media and TELUS, the Commission determined that, on balance, the TELUS final offer is the appropriate choice. In regard to the dispute between Bell Media and the Canadian Independent Distributors Group, the Commission determined that Bell Media’s final offer is the appropriate choice. The Commission directed all parties to execute their respective final offer affiliation agreements by no later than 25 July 2012. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2012- 393)
July 26th, The CRTC amends the Television Broadcasting Regulations, 1987, the Pay Television Regulations, 1990, the Specialty Services Regulations, 1990, and Broadcasting Distribution Regulations, 1997, to implement its rulings regarding vertical integration. Some of the new measures include introducing reverse onus provisions to harmonize the undue preference/disadvantage rules, instituting a prohibition against tied-selling of programming services at the wholesale level, introducing mechanisms to guard against anti-competitive head starts with respect to new pay and specialty programming services, and introducing dispute resolution provisions, including one relating to mandatory mediation between parties to a dispute by the Commission. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2012-407)
August 7th, The CRTC approves a proposal for the establishment and operation of the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund (BAF). The BAF would act as an independent and impartial funding body to support and fund innovative projects that promote accessibility of all broadcasting content in Canada. It would only be allowed to fund projects that are incremental to the existing regulatory obligations of the broadcasting industry in Canada, which also provide practical solutions that tangibly increase accessibility in broadcasting as quickly as possible and in the most cost-effective manner for new technologies and applications in Canada. An independent funding officer will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Corporation. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2012-430)
August 14th, The Commission finds that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation did not contravene the undue preference and disadvantage provision of the Amended Exemption order for new media broadcasting undertakings when it launched its online music service CBC Music. Stingray Digital Group Inc. is a broadcaster that owns and operates various services, including the national pay audio programming undertaking Galaxie and an online music service Stingray-music.com. Stingray complained that when CBC launched its new music Internet portal CBC Music (an online service to which users can subscribe free of charge), it violated the undue preference provisions because of CBC’s reliance on government funding that is not available to private enterprises and its reliance on preferential copyright licence fees. With respect to the issue of government funding, the Commission noted that the CBC’s government funding is set by Parliament and is not under the CBC’s control. The Commission also noted that the CBC has, since its inception, used government funding to operate its broadcasting undertakings in conjunction with, and often in competition with, commercial broadcasting undertakings. With respect to the copyright rates, the Commission noted that these rates were, as submitted by SOCAN, set by the Copyright Board following a public hearing. Accordingly, the Commission dismissed the complaint. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2012-442)
August 16th, The CRTC approves a two-step transaction that sees control of Leafs TV, Raptors TV and Gol TV pass to a company that is jointly controlled by Rogers Communications Inc. and BCE Inc. The CRTC established the value of the transaction with respect to regulated assets at $75,646,202 and required tangible benefits to be paid in the amount of $7,564,620. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2012-443)
August 30th, The CRTC announces how it plans to enforce its new policy to regulate the loudness of television commercial messages. Broadcasters and television service providers are directed to submit a report by October 15, 2012 confirming that the new requirements have been met by demonstrating that they have properly installed the test equipment that will be used to enforce the new regulations. This new equipment must be maintained, operated and periodically tested and technicians and engineers must be trained in how to use it. (Broadcasting Information Bulletin CRTC 2012-471)
August 31st, The CRTC announces the creation of the new position of Chief Consumer Officer and appoints Barbara Motzney to fill it. The Chief Consumer Officer’s role is to better understand the concerns of Canadian consumers and bring them to the Commission’s attention during the decision-making process and will head the Consumer Affairs and Strategic Planning sector, which was previously known as the Policy Development and Research sector. The new sector will conduct research and planning activities with a focus on consumer policy. (CRTC News Release August 31, 2012)
September 4th, the CRTC issues annual report on the state of the Canadian communications industry finding that the average Canadian family spent more than $180 per month on communications services in 2011. Despite the availability (and increased consumption) of content on digital platforms, the average Canadian spent more time watching television and listening to the radio than they had a year ago (28.5 and 17.6 hours a week respectively). The number of hours that Canadians spent watching Internet television per week increased to 2.8 from 2.4 in 2010. Seventy-eight per cent of the 13.4 million households in Canada had an Internet subscription. (CRTC News Release September 4, 2012)
September 6th, the CRTC announces its priorities for 2012-2015, stating that they will focus their efforts around three key pillars: “create, connect and protect.” The “create” pillar aims to ensure that Canadians have access to diverse, compelling creative content. The “connect” pillar aims to ensure that Canadians can connect to these services at affordable prices. The “protect” pillar seeks to promote compliance with, and enforcement of, its regulations and to ensure that Canadians have access to emergency communication services, such as 911 services and public alerting systems. (CRTC News Release September 6, 2012)
Sept 7th, the CRTC approves the Code of Best Practices for Community Television Access Programming. The Code sets out a dispute resolution process for resolving access disputes, states that access producers should retain all rights to their work, and amends the wording so that the Code’s principles apply to all outlets for local expression offered by licensed broadcasting distribution undertakings. (Regulatory Policy CRTC 2012-481)
September 11th, the CRTC grants a licence to Rock 95 Broadcasting, allowing it to launch a new radio station to serve the Toronto market at 88.1 FM. Under the terms of the new licence, forty per cent of the music featured on the new station will be Canadian musical selections, of which at least 60 per cent will be from emerging artists. (CRTC News Release September 11, 2012)
October 18th, the CRTC denies the application by BCE Inc. (BCE), on behalf of Astral Media Inc. (Astral), for authority to change the effective control of Astral’s broadcasting undertakings as it was not convinced that the transaction would provide significant and unequivocal benefits to the Canadian broadcasting system. It also indicated concerns related to competition, ownership concentration in television and radio, vertical integration and the exercise of market power. (CRTC News Release October 18, 2012 and Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2012-374).
On the same day, Bell Media issues a press release expressing shock at the CRTC’s decision, and announcing it would be requesting that the federal Cabinet intervene in the CRTC’s decision to reject Bell’s acquisition of Astral Media. Bell said it was “appalled that the CRTC would come to a decision that so negatively impact(ed) Canadian consumers and the national broadcast industry, contravene(d) its own policy and (was) tainted by behind-the-scenes lobbying by Bell’s cable rivals.”
October 30th, the CRTC decides that it needs to revise its policy for large broadcast groups regarding Canadian programming over-expenditures for conventional television and specialty services. It removes the 5% limitation on the carry-over of such over-expenditures from year to year as well as the obligation to utilize those carryovers the subsequent broadcast year. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy 2012-596)
November 16th, the CRTC renews and consolidates Sirius XM Canada Inc.’s two satellite radio licences, (Sirius Canada and XM Canada) into a single licence. It also revises the condition of licence as they relate to Canadian music channels to better clarify what constitutes a Canadian music channel. Sirius XM must continue to respect the 1:9 ratio of Canadian to non-Canadian channels even in its “best of” packages. Furthermore, subscribers can only receive a package of channels if there are at least than three French-language and three English-language Canadian music channels included in the package. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2012-629)
November 19th Astral and Bell announce that they have amended their Arrangement Agreement and submitted a new proposal to the CRTC for approval of Bell’s acquisition of Montréal-based Astral. Bell also announces that it has formally withdrawn its request to the federal Cabinet for a policy direction to the CRTC.
November 29th, the CRTC approves Shaw Direct’s request to allocate tangible benefits funds towards the marketing of the Local Television Satellite Solution and extend the eligibility period of the program for an additional 12 months. (CRTC Letter to Shaw dated November 29, 2012)
November 29th, the CRTC renews the broadcasting licences for the five stations owned by Aboriginal Voices Radio Inc. While Aboriginal Voices Radio Inc. wanted to have a 7-year long term licence renewal the CRTC decided that since AVR has been in non-compliance with its condition of license for three consecutive licence terms, it would only grant the stations a 3-year short-term licence renewal and strongly expects AVR to improve the performance of each of its stations during the new licence term. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2012-653)
December 10th, the CRTC finds that Telus has been subjecting OUTtv to an unfair disadvantage since Telus was not marketing or distributing OUTtv in the same manner as it had been doing with other similar programming services. While the CRTC found nothing wrong with Telus distributing OUTtv in the “Lifestyle Extra” package, it did find that Telus had not gone far enough in its marketing of the “Lifestyle Extra” package. Accordingly, Telus had been subjecting OUTtv Network to an undue disadvantage and must therefore create a detailed plan to rectify this situation by no later than February 8th, 2013. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2012-672).
December 19th, the CRTC issues a new exemption order in respect of Category B services that serve fewer than 200,000 subscribers and that operate under an approved nature of service. The Commission determined that the work involved in processing applications for new Category B services is wasteful and inefficient, for both the Commission and the broadcasting industry as a whole, especially since most of them are never launched. Accordingly the Commission exempted such services from licensing provided that they launch under a nature of service that the Commission approved. In addition, the Commission amended the Exemption order respecting certain third-language television undertakings to include provisions relating to the loudness of commercials. (Broadcasting Order CRTC 2012-689).
December 20th, the CRTC approves Rogers Communications Ltd.’s acquisition of CJNT-DT, an ethnic television programming undertaking in Montreal. The CRTC also approves Rogers’ request to change the station into an English language undertaking since Rogers was concerned that a French language ethnic television station would not be economically viable in Montreal and because the proposed amendments to the condition of licence would enhance the diversity of voices available in the Montreal market and have a positive impact of the Canadian broadcasting system. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2012-672).
March 6th, the CRTC announces that beginning on May 6th it would hold a hearing to consider renewed applications by Astral Media and Bell Media for authority to change the effective control of Astral’s broadcasting undertakings to BCE Inc.
March 15, the CRTC finds that OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) has violated its conditions of licence. OWN was originally approved in 1996 under the name Canadian Learning Television (CLT) and its condition of licence required the channel to provide educational programming and learning opportunities generally focusing on formal adult education. After CLT was bought by Corus Entertainment Inc. (Corus) in 2008, it was rebranded as VIVA before being rebranded yet again as the Oprah Winfrey Network on March 1st, 2011. While the name of the station changed, the station’s conditions of licence had not. After review, the CRTC finds that OWN had not made any significant changes to its programming to come into compliance. The CRTC therefore denied several of Corus’ proposals to amend their condition of licence and also outlined the new measures that Corus must undertake if it wishes to be in compliance with its condition of licence. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2013-125 and Mandatory Order CRTC 2013-126).
April 25, the CRTC issues a call for applications for radio licences to serve the Vancouver market. Applicants are to submit their applications by no later than June 17, 2013. The Commission indicated that it had not reached any conclusion on the licensing of any radio licence at this time. (Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2013-149).
April 9th, the CRTC releases the 2012 statistical and financial summaries for Canadian cable and satellite services. While cable companies reported modest growth in revenues and subscribers, satellite companies recorded a decline in both categories. However, the combined revenues for these categories of broadcasting distribution undertakings increased by 4.2%, from $13.5 billion in 2011 to $14.1 billion in 2012 and the total number of subscribers rose by 1% from 11.4 million to 11.5 million. (CRTC News Release April 9, 2013).
April 11th, the CRTC releases the 2012 statistical and financial summaries for individual Canadian specialty, pay, pay-per-view (PPV) and video-on-demand (VOD) television services. Revenues for these television services climbed by 35.4% over the past five years to reach nearly $4 billion in 2012. In addition, close to $1.4 billion, was invested in the creation of a variety of Canadian programming, resulting in the creation of 226 new jobs. (CRTC News Release April 11, 2013).
April 30th, in a transaction deemed to be worth $172,174,047, the CRTC approves Rogers Media Inc.’s application to take control of The Score Television Network. It denied Rogers’ request to direct tangible benefits contributions towards the Sportsnet Winter Games initiative on the grounds that doing so would not benefit either Canadian broadcasting system or the community served by The Score. The Commission also extends The Score’s licence until August 1, 2014 in order to align The Score’s renewal with that of other Rogers services. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2013-207).
May 2nd, the CRTC announces its annual Three-Year Plan aimed at ensuring that Canadians have access to a world-class communication system. To achieve this goal, the CRTC aims to continue its activities aimed at creating new Canadian content, ensuring Canadians can connect to communication services, and protecting the safety and interests of Canadians. The CRTC also reviewed its 2012-2013 goals and found that aside from deferring its goals to streamline both the radio exemption orders and tangible benefits policy, it had either achieved or was in the process of achieving its goals by the end of 2013. (CRTC Report May 2, 2013)
May 28th, the CRTC renews the licences of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s English- and French-language television and radio services for the next five years. New conditions of licence have been included which aim to ensure that the CBC provides services to Official Language Minority Communities. The CBC was authorized under a number of conditions to include national advertising on its Radio 2 and Espace Musique radio networks for the next three years. Also, the CBC will now have to provide greater transparency by codifying the presence of, and the process for, nominating the CBC ombudsman. (News Release May 28, 2013 & Broadcasting Decisions CRTC 2013-263, -264 & -265)
June 13th, the CRTC releases the 2012 statistical and financial summaries for Canadian conventional television stations. Canadian cable company expenditures rose from $562.9 million in 2011 to $661.8 million in 2012. While private conventional television stations saw their revenues drop by 5% from $2.14 billion in 2011 to $2.04 billion in 2012, their expenses increased by just over 1% from $1.9 billion in 2011 to $1.92 in 2012, resulting in a decline in profits before interest and taxes (PBIT) from $151.6 million to $22.9 million. Despite this decline, private conventional stations invested 17.6% more on Canadian programming. (News Release June 13, 2013)
June 18th, the CRTC amends its Broadcasting Distribution Regulations so that appropriate Category B services which serve fewer than 200,000 subscribers are now exempt from certain conditions of licence in order to minimize the regulatory burden they face. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2013-292)
June 19th, the CRTC releases the 2012 statistical and financial summaries for Canadian commercial radio stations. Total revenues for AM and FM stations increased by 0.4%, from $1.61 billion in 2011 to $1.62 billion in 2012 despite increased competition from satellite, online and mobile services. Expenses declined by $3.7 million during the same period, resulting in an increase in profits before interest and taxes (PBIT) from $311 million to $323 million. (News Release, June 19, 2013)
June 27th, the CRTC approves BCE Inc.’s revised bid to acquire Astral Media Inc.‘s television and radio services. Due to concerns that BCE could exert its market power to limit choice and competition, a number of conditions are imposed upon BCE in order to ensure that the transaction benefits Canadians and the Canadian broadcasting system. This conditions include a provision that BCE must invest $246.9 million over the next seven years on initiatives that will provide Canadians with a range of programming choices along with new Canadian content. BCE must also divest itself of several television stations (including The Family Channel, TELETOON/TÉLÉTOON, The Cartoon Network, MusiMax, and Disney Junior) and ten radio stations. BCE Inc. is also only allowed to acquire Astral’s three main English-speaking stations, (CJAD, CHOM-FM and CJFM-FM Montréal), on certain terms and conditions, including that it continue to operate CKGM Montréal in the sports format. (News Release June 27, 2013 and Broadcasting Decisions CRTC 2013-308, -309 & -310)
August 8th, the CRTC approves a limited number of applications for mandatory distribution on cable and satellite companies’ digital basic television service. Out of 22 applications, the CRTC approved two new services for mandatory distribution on the basic service of all distributors (AMI French and Nouveau TV5), one service for mandatory distribution on the basic service of satellite companies in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories (the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories) and one new service for distribution on a discretionary basis in anglophone markets (ARTV). The CRTC renewed five existing mandatory distribution orders AMI-TV (English), AMI Audio, Canal M, APTN and CPAC. In order to keep rates low, the CRTC approved lower rates than were requested by AMI (French), Nouveau TV5, Canal M and APTN. It denied the rest of the applications and ordered that the mandatory order in respect of Avis de Recherche expire in 2 years. Finally, while denying the application by Sun News, the Commission highlighted the importance of news to Canadian society and issued a Notice of Consultation regarding the terms of carriage of Category C national news services (News Release August 8, 2013, Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2013-372, and Notice of Consultation CRTC 2013-394).
September 25th, the CRTC and the Competition Bureau sign a Letter of Agreement calling for closer cooperation between the two agencies. Some of the terms of the new agreement are: calls for the sharing of best practices through joint training exercises of employees and knowledge transfer sessions, the creation of an employee exchange program, and holding semi-annual meetings between senior management to discuss further avenues for cooperation and collaboration. (News Release, September 25, 2014)
September 26th, the CRTC releases its annual Communications Monitoring Report. The 2013 report finds that Canadians are accessing more content on more platforms. The average Canadian listened to an average of 17.5 hours of radio each week and watched an average of 28.2 hours of television per week, both slight decreases from what was listened to/ watched a year before. Canadian programs accounted for 48.9% of the television watched by Canadians in 2012. The report also found that over half of all Canadians owned smart phones and more than a quarter owned tablets. Internet and Wireless communication became both faster and more prevalent in Canadian homes in 2012 as 62% of Canadians had download speeds of 5 megabits per second or more and 72% had access to LTE networks. For the first time in history, revenues for the communication sector surpassed $60 billion with $16.8 billion revenues being generated by broadcasting services and $43.9 billion being generated by telecommunications services. (News Release, September 26, 2014)
October 30th, the CRTC issues a notice of consultation calling for comments with respect to certain targetted aspects of its commercial radio policy. The Commission noted that, since the last policy review conducted in 2006, the commercial radio sector has remained relatively stable, both financially and in terms of tuning. Accordingly, CRTC indicated that a comprehensive review is not necessary at this time, but that the sector would nevertheless benefit from an update of certain regulatory and policy elements. These include the CRTC?s approach to calls for applications and to small markets; the processing of applications for the conversion of low-power, unprotected stations to protected status; the definitions for local and national time sales and the need for a definition for regional advertising; the possible implementation of HD Radio technology in Canada and the need for a regulatory framework; the possible adoption of new compliance mechanisms to encourage licensees to comply at all times with regulatory requirements and their conditions of licence; and a regulatory update of the provisions under which licensees must maintain and submit their logs and records. Comments are due January 30, 2014 with reply comments by April 1, 2014. (Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2013-572 and 572-1)
October 23rd, the CRTC revises the regulatory framework for pay-per-view services with a view to making it more consistent with the framework for VOD services (with which PPV competes). Among other things, the new regulations set out the amount of French and English Canadian content that must be available to all Canadian consumers, with minima for Canadian feature films, Canadian events, and non-feature film material. In addition, these services must direct 5% of their gross annual revenues to an existing Canadian independent production fund. The Commission removed the requirement that PPV packages be no longer than 7 days in length. Finally, the CRTC maintains that the Accessibility Policy should apply to all PPV services, but will adopt a case-by-case approach for applicants requesting flexibility in meeting these requirements. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2013-561)
October 24th, the CRTC launches ?Let?s Talk TV: A Conversation with Canadians?. Canadians are encouraged to express their ideas and thoughts about the current television system as well as the future of television in Canada. The CRTC is also looking to hear how Canadians receive their television programming and if they have enough information to make informed choices when they are not satisfied with their service. Canadians wishing to participate in this discussion can access an online discussion forum, send an email, call a toll-free telephone number, fill out an online form or write a letter to the Secretary General by November 22, 2013. (News Release, October 24, 2013)
October 31st, the CRTC amends its regulations to put in place standard clauses for non-disclosure agreements for undertakings negotiating or engaged in a distribution arrangement in order to prevent the misuse of competitively sensitive information. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2013-578)
October 31st, the CRTC clarifies the manner in which audits are conducted by programming undertakings, in order to ensure the subscriber information held by BDUs can be verified. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2013-585)
December 19th, the CRTC adopts a new framework for all television news services. Under the new framework, Canadians must be given the option to subscribe to all Canadian news services either through packages or paying for each on a stand-alone basis. Specifically, the Commission has required broadcasting distribution undertakings to make the programming services of CBC News Network, CTV News Channel, Le Canal Nouvelles, Le Réseau de l?information and Sun News Network available to their subscribers as of 19 March 2014. By no later than May 20, 2014, these services must be included in the best available discretionary package consistent with their genre and programming and consumers must also be given the option to subscribe to these services on a stand-alone basis when they are available in a discretionary package. Finally, the Commission imposed requirements for the filing of affiliation agreements, dispute resolution mechanisms and factors to be considered in the negotiation of wholesale rates for these services. (News Release, December 19, 2013), (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2013-734) & (Broadcasting Order CRTC 2013-735)
December 20th, the CRTC approves the acquisition of TELETOON/TÉLÉTOON, TELETOON Retro, TÉLÉTOON Rétro and Cartoon Network by Corus Entertainment Inc. from BCE Inc. These divestitures had been ordered by the CRTC as a condition of the CRTC’s approval of the acquisition of Astral Media Inc. Corus must contribute $26.02 million over the next seven years in tangible benefits, $23.185 million of which will be directed to production, script and concept development and export initiatives, including $5 million to French-language production. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2013-737)
Also on December 20th, the CRTC approves the acquisition of Historia and Séries+ by Corus Entertainment Inc. Corus must expend $14.48 million over the next seven years to help provide Canadians with more choices in programming and increasing the number of opportunities for Canadian creators to showcase their talent. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2013-738)
January 29th, the CRTC releases a report on the over 1300 comments they received as result of Phase 1 of “Let’s Talk TV: A conversation with Canadians”. The CRTC will use the information gathered in this phase to create an interactive questionnaire to elaborate on some of the issues that were raised by Canadians during Phase 1 (CRTC News Release 29/01/14)
January 29th, the CRTC releases a report on the over 1300 comments they received as result of Phase 1 of “Let’s Talk TV: A conversation with Canadians”. The CRTC will use the information gathered in this phase to create an interactive questionnaire to elaborate on some of the issues that were raised by Canadians during Phase 1 (CRTC News Release 29/01/14)
February 18th, the CRTC initiates Phase 2 of “Let’s Talk TV: A conversation with Canadians” by launching the Let’s Talk TV Choicebook. While the first phase sought out Canadians’ opinions about their personal experiences, the Let’s Talk TV Choicebook asked for the survey takers’ opinions on issues that would affect all Canadians. The survey would remain open until March 14, 2014. (CRTC News Release 18/02/14)
March 19th, the CRTC approves Newcap Inc.’s acquisition of five radio stations (of which two were located in Toronto-CFXJ-FM and CFXK-FM Toronto-and three in Vancouver-CHHR-FM, CKZZ-FM, and CISL Vancouver) that were previously owned by Bell Media. The transaction was valued at $112 million and included a tangible benefits package worth 6% of the value of the transaction and will be paid over a seven-year period. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2014-129)
April 24th, the CRTC announces that it is launching Phase 3 of “Let’s Talk TV: A conversation with Canadians” which will be a formal review of the issues and priorities identified by Canadians in Phases 1 and 2. An oral public hearing will begin on September 8, 2014 and will seek to address how the Canadian television system can foster choice and flexibility in selecting programming services, encourage the creation of compelling and diverse Canadian programming and empower Canadians to make informed choices and provide recourse mechanisms in the case of disputes. (Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2014-190 & CRTC News Release 24/04/14)
April 30th, the CRTC releases the 2013 financial results for specialty, pay, pay-per-view and video-on-demand services. Revenues for these television services exceeded $4 billion for the first time and, over the past five years, revenues from these services had grown by 7% annually. Over $1.3 billion was invested in the creation of new Canadian-made television programs by specialty, pay, PPV and VOD services in 2013. The pre-tax profit generated by these services also increased from $872 million in 2012 to over a billion dollars in 2013. (CRTC News Release 30/04/14)
May 1st, the CRTC releases the results of the “Let’s Talk TV: Choicebook”. Over 6,300 people filled out the questionnaire in addition to a select panel of 1,200 people representative of the Canadian population. Based on these results, the CRTC proposed a number of changes designed to a) foster a greater degree of consumer flexibility and choice when selecting programming services, b) encourage the creation of diverse Canadian programming and c) allow for Canadians to make informed choices. A public hearing will be held beginning on September 8, 2014 to discuss the CRTC’s proposed changes. (CRTC News Release 01/05/14).
May 6th, the CRTC releases 2013 financial results for local television stations. Revenues dropped 4.6% from $2.04 billion in 2012 to $1.94 billion in 2013 while expenses decreased by 3.4% from $1.92 billion in 2012 to $1.85 billion in 2013. Profits before interest and taxes decreased from $22.9 million in 2012 to losses of $2.3 million in 2013. 97% of the CBC/SRC’s $724.6 million programming expenditures was spent on Canadian programs. (CRTC News Release 06/05/14).
May 15th, the CRTC releases 2013 financial results for cable and satellite stations. The number of cable company subscribers grew 1.5% in 2013 to 8.8 million while the 2.7 million subscribers to satellite companies represented a 4.8% decrease from 2012. However, when combined, the number of cable and satellite subscribers did not change from 2012 to 2013 as it remained at 11.5 million. Cable and satellite companies declared $12.3 billion in revenues which was a 6.1% increase from the $11.6 billion they reported in 2012. While cable companies also recorded increased expenses of $6.9 billion in 2012 compared to $6.6 billion in 2013, they were still able to record $2.7 billion in profits in 2013 which was a 12.5% increase from the $2.4 billion they generated in 2012. Revenues and operating expenses from satellite companies both decreased in 2013, with revenue decreasing by 0.9% from $2.5 billion in 2012 to $2.48 billion in 2013 and operating expenses decreasing 5.9% from $1.7 billion to $1.6 billion. In spite of decreased revenue, satellite companies were able to increase their profits before interest and taxes by more than 10% earning $439 million in 2013 as opposed to the $389 million they earned in 2012. (CRTC News Releases 15/05/14)
May 29th, the CRTC discloses the 2013 financial results for owners of large distribution undertakings, multi-system operators and conventional ownership groups that are required to publicly disclose such information under the Broadcasting Regulatory Policy. (CRTC News Releases 29/05/14)
June 3rd, the CRTC releases the 2013 financial results for the 685 commercial radio stations in Canada. Total revenues for AM and FM radio stations remained fairly stable, increasing by a quarter of a percent from $1.618 billion in 2012 to $1.623 billion in 2013. Operating expenses decreased from $1.244 billion in 2012 to $1.242 billion in 2013. This slight increase in revenue and decrease in expenses led to an increase in profits before interest and taxes from $321 million earned in 2012 to $328 million being earned in 2013. The addition of 13 new FM radio stations in 2013 brought the total number of FM stations operating in Canada to 556. Ethnic FM radio stations experienced the largest growth in revenue as they experienced 4.3% increase from 2012 to 2013. The 129 AM radio stations were the only section to experience a decrease in revenues, as their revenues fell by 3.8% from $306.2 million in 2012 to $294.6 million in 2013. (CRTC News Release 03/06/14)
June 19th, the Public Service Awards of Excellence recognizes the CRTC for its creative and innovative work in the areas of Official Languages, Employment Equity and Diversity and Policy. The CRTC received an award in the Official Languages category due to the high degree in which English and French was promoted in the CBC/Radio-Canada licence proceedings and for instituting measures to ensure that all Canadians could be heard in the language of their choice to help foster participation from minority language communities. The CRTC’s work to support the integration of developmentally-challenged employees in the workplace in which their unique needs are addressed and respected was recognized by receiving an award for Employment Equity and Diversity. The CRTC received a policy award for its use of new and innovative forms of media to engage Canadians in developing a code of conduct for wireless service providers in order to ensure that the public’s views were being included in the discussion at a public hearing. (NR 19/06/14)
July 24th, the CRTC approves DHX Media Ltd.’s request to take over ownership and control of Disney Junior, Disney XD, and Family Channel from Bell Media Inc. The CRTC values this transaction at $173,134,220. The CRTC also approves several amendments to Family Channel’s conditions of licence which will decrease the amount of Canadian programming expenditures from 30% of revenues to 22% and to reduce the percentage of PNI expenditures allocated to independent producers from 75% to 60%. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2014-388)
July 31st, the CRTC approves Rogers Media Inc.’s request to group several of its broadcasting undertakings together as a designated group. The CRTC decides that it will revoke the existing broadcasting licences of the “OMNI” stations and issue new licences on September 1, 2014 so that the OMNI stations’ two-year renewal cycle will coincide with that of other Rogers’ properties. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2014-399)
August 8th, the CRTC dismisses Quebecor Media Inc.’s (Quebecor) complaint against the Bell Broadcast and New Media Fund (the Fund). Quebecor had filed the complaint in February after the Fund refused to finance three of their projects and requested that the Fund pay $100,000 in damages to cover the expenses relating to one of their three films. The CRTC dismisses their complaint and also made note of the fact that the CRTC does not have the power to impose financial penalties or require the payment of compensation in broadcasting. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2014-418)
August 21st, the CRTC launches an online discussion forum for Let’s Talk TV: A conversation with Canadians which will remain open until the final day of Let’s Talk TV public hearing on September 19, 2014. The discussion forum will be the final opportunity Canadians have to comment on the future of television in Canada during the Let’s Talk TV: A conversation with Canadians initiative. However, the CRTC also recommends that the Fund establish a more clear and transparent grading scale to use when analyzing film applications in order to reinforce the Fund’s objectivity and transparency. (CRTC News Release 21/08/14)
August 29th, the CRTC announces that it will now require the broadcasting industry to relay emergency alert messages to Canadians. Cable and satellite companies, radio stations, television stations and video-on-demand services must comply with this new requirement by March 31, 2015 while campus, community-based and native broadcasters will have until March 31, 2016 to comply.?(CRTC News Release 29/08/14).
September 2nd, the CRTC publishes It’s Your CRTC! Your 5-minute Guide to Understanding and Participating in Our Activities. This guide explains the role the CRTC plays in Canadian broadcasting and how it tries to encourage participation and input from the public. The guide also provides examples of recent CRTC decisions and provides information on the methods that members of the public can use to contact the CRTC. (News Release 02/09/14)
September 4th, the CRTC issues its annual report on the state of Canadian broadcasting industry. While the report finds that there was a modest increase in the overall average number of weekly television viewing hours, more Canadians were choosing to watch television content over the Internet and through Netflix. Netflix adoption grew to 29% of adult English speakers in Canada as well as 7% among French speaking Canadians. (News Release 04/09/14).
September 5th, the CRTC simplifies its approach to tangible benefits for television transactions. Henceforth 80% of a company’s tangible benefits must be allocated to the Canada Media Fund (CMF) or another certified independent production fund. If a company can make a compelling case that the public interest could be better served by other measures, then the CRTC will require that company to only direct at least 60% of its tangible benefits to the CMF. The rules pertaining to tangible benefits from radio ownership transactions remain unchanged. The CRTC also adopts some new rules for calculating the value of a transaction to make it more difficult for companies to apply for exemption from, or reduce, the amount they must contribute to the CMF. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2014-459)
October 2nd, the CRTC issues its decision in the arbitration hearing between Rogers Communications Partnership (Rogers) and Quebecor Media Inc. over the wholesale rate charged for distributing Quebecor’s Sun News Network (SNN). The CRTC selected the offer made by Rogers as it was more consistent with the rates paid by unaffiliated BDUs (especially those with comparable levels of penetration) for the right to distribute SNN. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2014-508)
On October 2nd, the CRTC also issues its decision in the arbitration hearing between TELUS Communications Company (TELUS) and Quebecor Media Inc. over the wholesale rate charged for distributing Quebecor’s Sun News Network (SNN). Both companies agreed that the amount charged for SNN’s services should be calculated based on a variable rate, however, they disagreed on how such an amount should be calculated. While the Commission considered neither offer to be consistent with the rates paid by TELUS for comparable news services, nor the value consumers placed on SNN, it ultimately determined that Quebecor’s offer was the better of the two since it provided TELUS with a measure of packaging flexibility and also provided SNN with the financial means to meet its programming commitments. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2014-509)
October 16th, the CRTC releases its Communications Monitoring Report for 2014. The report finds that the average Canadian family in 2013 spent $191 a month on communications services, a $6 increase from 2012. The largest reason for this increase comes from the amount the average Canadian family spent on Internet services per month which increased by $4.42 to $35.37 in 2013. The CRTC believes that this large increase in the amount spent on Internet services is due to Canadians using more data than ever before and the fact that more people are subscribing to high-speed Internet services. Cable and satellite companies reported a 42.2% profit margin on their earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization which were 1.1% higher than in 2012. The profit margin of wireless companies also grew (from 40.7% to 43.2%) while wireline companies’ profit margins decreased 1.1% to 40% in 2013. Overall, the total revenues for the Canadian communications industry grew 1.9% to reach $61.9 billion. The report also included a section comparing Canada’s telecommunications to those of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Australia. Canada had the second most expensive rates for high speed Internet, yet had the third slowest average download speed of the countries compared. Canadians also paid the 2nd highest amount for the average (5 GB/month) mobile data plan, but had the second fastest average mobile download speeds. (News Release 16/10/14)
October 28th, the CRTC completes its review of its commercial radio policies. During its review, the Commission looked at developing an HD Radio policy for but decided against doing so as the medium was still in its initial stages in Canada. It also issued new rules relating to stiffer penalties for radio stations found not to be in compliance with the CRTC’s rules and regulations; to a licence renewal application checklist for radio licensees’ licence renewal process; and to requiring radio stations to retain program logs and audio recordings for four weeks following the date of a broadcast so that it can be reviewed by the CRTC if a complaint is filed. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2014-554)
November 6th, the CRTC decides that customers should no longer have to give 30 days’ notice to providers of their voice services, Internet services, or broadcasting distribution services if they wish to cancel the service. This is the CRTC’s first decision resulting from its Let’s Talk public process. (News Release 06/11/14) and (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2014-576)
November 13th, the CRTC orders three radio stations serving Canada’s South Asian community (Sher-E-Punjab Radio Broadcasting Inc., Radio Punjab Ltd., & Radio India (2003) Ltd.) to stop broadcasting signals from the United States into Canada through cross-border transmitters as none of the stations had a valid licence to broadcast in Canada. (News Release 13/11/14)(Broadcasting Decisions CRTC 2014-587, 589, 591)
November 21st, the CRTC updates its approach with respect to non-compliant radio stations. Radio stations that are found not to be in compliance with the CRTC’s rules and regulations can now be forced to broadcast announcements regarding their non-compliance, to distribute additional Canadian content, or to lose their ability to make Canadian content contributions through discretionary initiatives. In addition, non-compliant radio stations can still have their licences suspended, cancelled, not renewed (or renewed for a shorter term) or have additional conditions imposed on their licences. The CRTC will decide which measure(s) to apply to non-compliant radio stations on a case-by-case basis. (Broadcasting Information Bulletin CRTC 2014-608)
December 17th, the Federal Government grants the CRTC more power and responsibilities. The CRTC now has the power to issue administrative monetary penalties to companies that violate the Telecommunications Act. In addition, broadcasting distribution undertakings (such as cable and satellite companies) and telecommunications companies can no longer charge their customers if they wish to receive paper copies of their bills for wireless, Internet, telephone and television services. This includes undertakings that the CRTC has exempted from holding a broadcasting licence. (CRTC Statement).
January 29th, the CRTC determines that over-the-air transmissions play a valuable role in providing inexpensive television programming to Canadians and will not permit the shutting down of transmitters that broadcast these signals. The decision was made after over 95% of Canadians who participated in the Let’s Talk TV initiative voiced their disapproval with proposals to shut down such transmitters. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2015-24).
The CRTC decides that it will continue to allow the practice of simultaneous substitution although it will require broadcasters to take steps to ensure that errors are not made during the process. In response to numerous requests from Canadians, the CRTC decides that the non-Canadian advertising produced for the Super Bowl constitutes an integral part of that special event’s programming. As a result, distributors will no longer be allowed to perform simultaneous substitution during the Super Bowl after the end of the 2016 NFL Season. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2015-25) On March 2nd, Bell Media files for leave to appeal with the Federal Court of Appeal, claiming that the January 29th decision by the CRTC that prohibits simultaneous substitution in the Super Bowl starting in 2017 impairs Bell Media’s rights and interests. On May 5, 2015, approval is granted for the appeal to proceed.
The CRTC directs Bell TV to eliminate the data charging practices (which the CRTC determined were illegal) for its mobile TV services, by April 29th, 2015 and directs Videotron to remove its illico.tv app for Blackberry and Android-based phones by March 31, 2015. (Videotron had already advised that it had ceased the practice effective December 31, 2014 but that users would be able to access the related app until March 31, 2015). A consumer had complained that Bell Mobility Inc. was conferring an undue preference on itself by exempting Bell’s own mobile TV services from the standard monthly data caps and data charges while a trio of consumer groups brought a similar complaint against Videotron with respect to its illico.tv app. The Commission concluded that Bell Mobility and Videotron were providing telecommunications services and were operating as Canadian carriers when they provided the data connectivity and transport necessary to deliver Bell Mobile TV and illico.tv, respectively, to their subscribers’ mobile devices. The CRTC found that these practices should be subject to the Telecommunications Act, regardless of whether or not concurrent broadcasting services are also being offered. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2015-26) Bell Media files for leave to appeal with the Federal Court of Appeal, claiming that the CRTC made errors of law by ignoring section 4 of the Telecommunications Act (which says the Act does not apply in respect of broadcasting by broadcasting undertakings) and by finding that Bell was giving itself an undue advantage without any evidence on the record that its competitors suffered any actual harm. Leave to appeal is granted on April 2nd, 2015.
March 4th, the CRTC revokes Sun Media Inc.’s broadcasting licence for the Sun News Network at the voluntary request of the licensee, Sun Media Inc. This concluded a saga that had begun in 2010 with the denial of Sun News’ original request for a Category 1 specialty programming licence which would have made it mandatory for subscribers to pay for it. Sun Media refiled its application, withdrawing the “mandatory” nature, and was awarded an optional “Category B” licence which did not guarantee it carriage. In 2011, this was changed at Sun Media’s request to a Category C competitive national news licence but the service continued to struggle financially. In 2013, Sun Media again sought mandatory carriage and again was denied. Finally, the service went off the air on February 13, 2015, after reportedly losing $46.7 million over a three year span. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2015-80).
March 12th, the CRTC sets out its findings based on the Let’s Talk TV initiative on ways to build a future Canadian television system that encourages the creation of compelling and diverse programming made by Canadians. The CRTC sets out the four themes under which it will start introducing measure and policies to help facilitate the transition to an increasingly on-demand environment. The CRTC’s new policies will aim to set the stage for innovative approaches, shift the emphasis from quantity to quality of Canadian programming, offer regulatory support for specific types of programming deemed to be of public interest and where market failure has been demonstrated before, and simplify and streamline the licensing process. The CRTC decides to allow broadcasters to apply to remove requirements to adhere to a terms of trade agreement, effective April 29th2016, five years after the original executed terms of trade agreement was submitted to the Commission. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2015-86). On April 13th, the Canadian Media Production Association (CMPA) applies to the Federal Court of Appeal for leave to appeal the portion of the decision relating to terms of trade, arguing that that the CRTC failed to provide the CMPA with notice or the opportunity to make proper submissions with respect to what it describes as a “critically important issue for independent producers”. Leave to appeal is denied on May 29, 2015.
As part of its March 12 rulings, the CRTC issues a call for comments on its proposed amendments to exemption orders and standard conditions of licence for video-on-demand undertakings and sets the deadline for comments at April 27th, 2015. These amendments were made in order to take into account the inclusion of new hybrid VOD services and the elimination of the standard condition of licence prohibiting Canadian VOD subscription packages from competing directly with genre-protected Canadian discretionary services. (Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2015-87)
The CRTC issues a new Exemption Order reflecting its policy determinations regarding discretionary television programming undertakings with fewer than 200,000 subscribers. Under the new policy, the regulatory burden for such services will be reduced by eliminating obligations relating to adherence to a declared nature of service, enabling all services with fewer than 200,000 subscribers to operate as exempt undertakings and eliminating genre-protection. However, all third-language services must maintain the current exhibition and accessibility requirements for third-language services rather than imposing the same levels as those for English and French-language services while all other services will be subject to a common set of obligations. (Broadcasting Order CRTC 2015-88)
March 16th, the CRTC dismisses Bell’s complaint of undue preference against Rogers Media Inc. over the manner in which GamePlus is offered to Rogers’ customers. GamePlus was part of an NHL broadcasting undertaking operated by Rogers called GameCentre Live which allowed users to enjoy additional NHL content on a second screen, such as a computer, tablet or smartphone while watching the an NHL game. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2015-89)
March 19th, the CRTC publishes “A World of Choice-A roadmap to maximize choice for TV viewers and to foster a healthy dynamic TV market”. The roadmap set out the CRTC’s plan to give Canadians more choice when it comes to the selection and packaging of their TV services while also fostering a healthy, dynamic TV market. The policy was the result of the process initiated by the Let’s Talk TV initiative which resulted in the CRTC’s decisions regarding local over-the-air TV, simultaneous substitution and content creation. Some of the more notable areas addressed by the CRTC include the following requirements:
• BDUs will be required to offer more Canadian than non-Canadian services
• By March, 2016, all discretionary services will have to be offered by BDUs on either a pick-and-pay basis or in small reasonably priced packages, which must either be chosen by the consumer or pre-assembled by the BDU. By December, 2016 all discretionary services must be offered on both a pick-and-pay basis and a small package basis to their customers.
• The CRTC plans on opening the market to more BDUs by expanding the exemption order for terrestrial BDUs with fewer than 20,000 subscribers
• All vertically integrated BDUs will be required to offer English and French language independent services on a 1:1 ratio by September 1, 2015.
(Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2015-96)
As part of its March 19 rulings, the CRTC issues a call for comments on a Wholesale Code, which is intended to govern the commercial arrangements between BDUs, programming undertakings and exempt digital media undertakings. The purpose of the Wholesale Code is to ensure that there is a vigourous wholesale market in Canada as the CRTC believes this is essential for fostering an environment and retail market with greater consumer choice. The CRTC sets the deadline for comments at May 4, 2015 and will allow parties to file replies to comments until May 14, 2015. (Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2015-97)
March 26th, in its final policy decision flowing from the Let’s Talk TV proceeding, the CRTC publishes its findings on ways in which it can build a Canadian television system in the future that provides Canadians with recourse mechanisms in case of disputes and enables them to make informed choices about programming. The CRTC also sets out new policies which aim to create a television system where there is improved customer service and handling of complaints and one which is more accessible to Canadians with disabilities. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2015-104)
The CRTC issues a call for comments regarding its intention to establish a mandatory Code of Conduct for television service providers which will address the clarity and content of agreements between the television services and their customers. The CRTC has provided a working version of the proposed Code of Conduct and invites Canadians to evaluate the document and determine if it meets their needs to make informed choices about their television services. Notable aspects of the working document of the Code show concern for the use of clear language, the setting out of charges, how packaging options are promoted, how promptly service calls are answered, rebates during service outages and provisions which require all critical information, such as channel selection, charges and how to file complaints, to be clearly presented to the customer. The CRTC sets the deadline for comments at May 25, 2015 and will allow parties to file replies to comments until June 4, 2015. (Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2015-105)
March 31st, the CRTC standardizes its licence renewal application procedures for radio television and broadcasting distribution undertakings. Instead of issuing individual notices of consultation, the CRTC will publish a joint notice of consultation in the spring which will include a list of all licences which are to expire in the following broadcast year and instructions on how and when licensees must submit their licence renewal forms. If licensees wish to make amendments to their existing licences, they must submit separate applications. The CRTC will still retain the flexibility to publish individual notices of consultation if necessary. (Broadcasting Information Bulletin CRTC 2015-116)
April 17th, the CRTC approves Rogers Media Inc.’s application which grants the company authorization to broadcast “Hockey Night in Canada” on the CBC. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2015-154)
May 6th, the CRTC releases its final arbitration offer relating to the distribution rates Bell Canada will have to pay for distributing Quebecor Media Inc.’s TVA Sports services. The CRTC became involved in the arbitration process at Bell’s request in mid-December, 2014. While both companies agreed that a rate increase was in order after TVA Sports recently acquired the rights to broadcast National Hockey League games, the two companies disagreed on the size of the increase, with Bell wanting to pay less and Quebecor wanting to charge more. The CRTC ruled in favour of Bell’s proposed rate, although it noted that if Quebecor could effectively demonstrate that the value of its service has increased by the closing date of the current agreement, then a further rate increase would be justified. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2015-182)
May 13th, the CRTC denies Hubbard Broadcasting Inc.’s application to remove its conventional television station KSTP-TV Minneapolis from the list of non-Canadian programming services authorized for distribution in Canada. Hubbard argued that it never intended for its station to available in Canada and that it was not duly notified prior to KSTP-TV being added to the list. The CRTC indicated that the copyright issues raised by Hubbard were outside its jurisdiction and were better raised in another forum. The CRTC confirmed that simultaneous substitution was a requirement in Canada but that eliminating closed captioning would be a violation of the Broadcasting Act had sufficient evidence been provided to make such a determination. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2015-187)
June 25th, the CRTC revokes the broadcasting licence of CFSI-FM Salt Spring Island and CFSI-FM-1 Mount Bruce after CFSI-FM failed to follow the requirements of various mandatory orders that had been imposed by the CRTC on June 20, 2014. While the CRTC noted that Canadians living on Salt Spring Island would no longer have access to the radio service of CFSI-FM as a result of this decision, they were confident that a higher-quality radio service could be provided to the island residents in the future. The revocation would come into effect on July 25th, 2015. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2015-281)
June 25th, the CRTC revokes the broadcasting licences of five Type B native radio stations held by Aboriginal Voices Radio Inc. after finding that AVR in non-compliance with its regulatory obligations over four consecutive licence terms. It also found that AVR was not honoring its commitment to broadcast programming that would serve the needs, interests and concerns of Aboriginal Canadians. AVR had not been broadcasting from its station in Ottawa since the fall of 2014. The revocation would come into effect on July 25, 2015. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2015-282) [Ed. Note. On August 21, 2015, the Federal Court of Appeal granted AVR leave to appeal the CRTC’s revocation decision of June 25, 2015; the notice of appeal was filed on October 20, 2015.]
July 21st, the CRTC announces its plan to implement new methods for monitoring the amount of and expenditures on Canadian children’s and youth television programming in the Canadian broadcasting system starting on September 1, 2015. The CRTC will standardize target audience groupings into 4 groups (preschool children, children, teenagers, and adults), require licensees to record their programs’ demographic information in their program logs, and require services to break down their total expenditures on programming produced or acquired for children and youth into three categories in their annual returns. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2015-323)
July 23rd, the CRTC announces its new procedure for dealing with simultaneous substitution errors, including how viewers can submit complaints. It also issues a call for comments from the public on the proposed simultaneous substitution regulations as part of its Let’s Talk TV process. The deadline for the submission of comments is September 11, 2015. (Information Bulletin CRTC 2015-329 and Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2015-330)
August 6th, the CRTC revises its exemption order and standard conditions of licence for licensed video-on-demand (VOD) undertakings by creating a new hybrid VOD service category with specific rules aimed at giving Canadians more opportunities to discover Canadian programing on multiple Canadian-operated platforms. VOD undertakings within this new category must offer their services on the Internet to all Canadians and cannot be restricted to those with a subscription to a specific broadcasting distribution undertaking, mobile service or retail Internet access service. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2015-355 and Broadcasting Order CRTC 2015-356)
August 19th, the CRTC amends its regulatory policy relating to local availabilities on U.S. television services. Broadcasting distribution undertakings (BDUs) must henceforth use at least 75% of the time allocated for local availabilities on U.S. television services to promote first-run original Canadian television programming. BDUs will still be able to use 25% of local availabilities on U.S. television services to promote their own companies’ services. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2015-380)
August 26th, the CRTC issues a call for radio applications that will serve urban Aboriginal communities in Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver (following the CRTC’s decision to revoke the licences of Aboriginal Voices Radio on June 25, 2015). Applications must be filed by January 12, 2016 and must demonstrate that there is a demand and a market for their proposed service. (Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2015-399). [Ed. Note. On August 21, 2015, the Federal Court of Appeal granted AVR leave to appeal the CRTC’s revocation decision of June 25, 2015; the notice of appeal was filed on October 20, 2015.]
September 24th, the CRTC announces the new Wholesale Code which will come into effect on January 22, 2016. It contains a variety of prohibitions aimed at fostering a retail market that will allow for greater subscriber choice while still supporting the creation of a diverse range of Canadian-made programming. Notably, the new Wholesale Code provides a number of protections for independent services that are not owned by the large, vertically-integrated broadcasting companies. Although the CRTC could not impose the Wholesale Code on non-Canadian services, it indicated that those services should govern themselves as if they were or face possible removal from the Canadian market. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2015-438, Broadcasting Order CRTC 2015-439, Broadcasting Information Bulletin CRTC 2015-440).
November 6th, the CRTC amends the Broadcasting Distribution Regulations to prohibit BDUs from requiring customers to give 30 days’ notice when cancelling services. Going forward, BDUs must cancel a customer’s programming service the day that the cancellation request is received. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2015-495)
November 12th, the CRTC denies the Ontario French-Language Educational Communications Authority application for a must-offer order which would have required all licensed terrestrial BDUs and all DTH satellite distribution undertakings to offer the French-language educational television service TFO in English- and French-language markets across Canada. The CRTC indicated that it had not persuaded the Commission that it merited such a nationwide “must-offer” order and added that it thought that the Wholesale Code would provide TFO with a useful tool to negotiate carriage with BDUs across Canada and that therefore a must-order act was unnecessary. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2015-502)
November 19th, the CRTC publishes its new regulations relating to simultaneous substitution. BDUs had complained that they were given too little time to prepare simultaneous substitutions in the past and as such were unable to ensure that they were free from errors. The CRTC acknowledges that, while it has to power to require BDUs to offer error-free simultaneous substitution, the current system of penalizing them for simultaneous substitution errors would jeopardize the system and retained the case-by-case approach whereby it considers the circumstances of particular errors. The CRTC also addressed the NFL’s comments (although it called them “premature”) relating the simultaneous substitution of the Super Bowl [set to begin in 2017] and provided its view that it has the authority to enact such a regulation. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2015-513)
The CRTC also amends the Broadcasting Distribution Regulations in light of the Let’s Talk TV proceedings. Among other things, the new regulations:
a) set a price cap of $25 a month for the basic service and defined which types of programming services must be included on the basic service (as well as those which must not be);
b) set the deadline by which all licensed BDUs must make the switch to a pick-and-pay model, namely March 31, 2016 until November 30, 2016 for distribution of programming services on a standalone basis OR in a package of up to 10 programming services and December 1, 2016 for distribution on BOTH a standalone basis and in packages of up to 10 programming services.
c) eliminate genre protection for programming services who are now free to change into other genres of programming (with certain exceptions);
d) institute a 1:1 matching rule so that the vertically-integrated companies now have to offer one English- or French-language independent service for each service of their own that they offer in the same language;
e) provide more access to accessibility features for Canadians with disabilities; and
f) require the distribution of at least one minority-language service (i.e. French or English) for each majority-language service in each majority-language market.
(Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2015-514)
January 7th, the CRTC announces a new mandatory code of conduct for television service providers (the “Television Service Provider Code”). Among other things, the new code a) aims to make it easier for consumers to understand their television service contracts, b) institutes a new framework to improve customer service calls, outages and disconnections, and c) establishes new rules for trial periods for persons with disabilities and for changes to programming choices. The new code will become mandatory for all television service providers on September 1st, 2017. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2016-1)
March 1st, the CRTC’s new policy requiring BDUs to offer a small entry-level basic service (colloquially called “skinny basic”) and amend their packaging options comes into effect. More specifically, during the period beginning on 1 March 2016 and ending on 30 November 2016, all discretionary services must be offered either on a stand-alone basis or in packages of up to 10 services. After 1 December 2016, they must be offered both on a stand-alone basis and in packages of up to 10 services (Broadcasting Information Bulletin CRTC 2016-59)
March 17th, after review, the CRTC decides that the Commissioner for Complaints for Complaints (“CCTS”) can continue to operate as an independent, self-regulating body for consumer dispute resolution and complaint assistance and resolution. However, under the new mandate, all television service providers will be required to become participants in the CCTS by September 1st, 2017 and the CCTS’ mandate has now been expanded to include addressing complaints relating to the user’s television services. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2016-102)
March 23rd, the CRTC approves an application by Shaw Communications pursuant to which it would transfer all of its shares in Shaw Media to a related company, Corus Entertainment. The CRTC examined the proposal and allowed it to proceed since it found that this corporate reorganization would not result in a change in effective control, would not result in the need for tangible public benefits to be paid, and would not adversely affect members of the public. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2016-110)
June 15th, the CRTC sets out regulatory measures for local and community television to ensure Canadians can access programming that reflects their needs and interests. The Commission finds that the requirements for English-language stations to broadcast at least 7 hours of local programming per week in non-metropolitan markets (14 hours in metropolitan markets) were appropriate. News programming will be considered locally reflective if the subject matter relates specifically to the market a station is licensed to serve, if it portrays an onscreen image of the market (i.e. including its residents or officials), and if it is produced by the station’s staff or independent producers specifically for the station.
To ensure that local television stations have the financial resources to provide good quality local news, the CRTC will allow BDUs to devote part of their local expression and Canadian programming contributions to the production of local news on local television stations. The CRTC also creates the Independent Local News Fund which all BDUs are required to contribute to in order to help provide financial support to independent local television stations. Finally, the CRTC makes some adjustments to the community television framework to ensure subscribers’ needs are reflected in local news content. Now, the minimum proportion of local expression expenses that BDUs must allocate to direct programming costs has increased to 75% and BDUs must create citizen advisory committees for community channels in markets with a population of over one million people. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy 2016-224)
July 12th, the CRTC accepts Videotron’s offer regarding the distribution of Bell Media Inc.’s RDS services. The offer sets out the per-subscriber wholesale rates for the distribution of the RDS services in linear packages by Videotron. Among other reasons, the CRTC rules that Videotron’s offer was more reasonable, for the purposes of examining volume discounts, because the rates paid by Bell to the RDS services may be less representative of fair market value due to the affiliation between RDS services and Bell. Additionally, Videotron’s offer would have less of an impact on subscriber choice and the proposed rate increase aligned with the decrease in viewership share of the RDS services since 2011. (Broadcasting Regulatory Decision CRTC 2016-262)
August 19th, the CRTC issues a distribution order (pursuant to section 9(1)(h) of the Broadcasting Act) which removes authorization for simultaneous substitution for the Super Bowl. As of January 1, 2017, Canadians will be able to view U.S. Super Bowl commercials if they watch the Super Bowl on a U.S. television station. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy 2016 – 334 and Broadcasting Order 2016 – 335). [This decision has been appealed by Bell Media, holder of the rights to the Super Bowl which will take place in February, 2017].
August 25th, CRTC reviews the policy framework for Certified Independent Production Funds (CIPFs) to ensure that CIPFs contribute to the development of a well-rounded Canadian production sector which has the flexibility to operate in a multi-platform environment. Notable changes include the CRTC’s elimination of the requirement for producers to obtain a broadcast licence/development agreement to receive CIPF funding, redefining “new media content” to only include “non-programming digital content,” requiring all CIPFs to introduce a system to measure success, and allowing CIPFs to fund productions achieving at least six Canadian certification points as well as pilot projects recognized by the CRTC (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy 2016 – 343)
October 20th, the CRTC orders Surrey Myfm inc. (Myfm) and Ravinder Singh Pannu not to carry on broadcasting undertakings except in compliance with the Broadcasting Act. The CRTC orders, pursuant to section 12(2) of the Broadcasting Act, that Myfm adhere to the terms of the exemption pursuant to which they claimed to operate the broadcasting undertaking. The CRTC also issues a mandatory order prohibiting 89.3 Surrey City FM Ltd. and Gurpal Garcha from operating or having involvement in an undertaking that is carrying on a broadcasting undertaking in whole or in part in Canada without a licence. 89.3 Surrey City FM Ltd. was also operating under the low-power tourist information radio station exemption. The same order is issued to Sur Sagar Radio Inc. and Ravinder Singh Pannu, who were not abiding by the terms of their exemption in operating a low-power house of worship radio station (Broadcasting Regulatory Decisions 2016 – 414-424).
November 2nd, the CRTC reviews the policy framework for the accuracy of closed-captioning for live programming. Following a call for comments, a group of broadcasters formed the 2016 Working Group and submitted a proposal for a trial to develop and test a different method for measuring closed-caption accuracy in order to ultimately improve the accuracy. As requested by the 2016 Working Group, the Commission will temporarily suspend the requirement for broadcasters to reach a given captioning accuracy rate until 31 August 2019. The Commission still expects broadcasters to meet the accuracy rate for live English-language programming during the trial period, and expects that the 2016 Working Group will submit a final proposal for a new accuracy rate and measurement model for live programming by 2 November 2018. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy 2016 – 435)
November 2nd, the CRTC issues the following broad licensing categories, which will consolidate all types of television programming services: a standard set of conditions of licence, expectations and encouragements for television stations (including over-the-air [OTA] television stations and provincial educational television services), discretionary services (all pay television and specialty services), and on-demand services (i.e., pay-per-view [PPV] and video-on-demand [VOD] services). The requirements set out in the regulatory policy will also be implemented at licence renewal. (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy 2016 – 436).
December 20th, the CRTC approves the change of ownership and control of the terrestrial BDU serving Winnipeg, Manitoba, and surrounding areas which was licensed to MTS. It will now be controlled by BCE Inc. which has committed to invest in infrastructure in Manitoba, including in unserved markets which the Commission indicates would benefit the broadcasting system. This decision does not concern any transactions relating to telecommunication services which do not require the Commission’s approval. (Broadcasting Regulatory Decision 2016 – 487) [Note: The CRTC is not the only regulatory agency which must approve the transaction.]
February 24, 2017 the CRTC calls for comments on proposed amendments to the Broadcasting Distribution Regulations and the Television Broadcasting Regulations. In the proposed amendments to the Broadcasting Distribution Regulations, the Commission amends the calculations for determining contributions to Canadian content and local expression, confirming that future contributions to Canadian programming will be based on the previous year’s revenues. The CRTC also decides to gradually increase the minimum proportion of local expression expenses that BDUs must allocate to direct programming costs on community channels from 50% to 75%. The CRTC proposes to amend the regulations relating to logs and records to include additional information, such as information relating to access programming, originality of programming, accessibility and language. In the proposed amendments to the Television Broadcasting Regulations, the CRTC also determines that local television stations would be required to broadcast certain levels of local programming and locally reflective news and information as part of their exhibition requirements. This would be monitored through the use of data points. Moreover, in the interest of streamlining these reporting obligations, the Commission proposes to further amend the schedules to make them more consistent with those proposed as part of the Discretionary Services Regulations. The amendments set out in the Appendix would come into force on 1 September 2017. (Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2017-50)
March 3, 2017 the CRTC found that Bell’s proposed repackaging for MusiquePlus violates section 7 of the Wholesale Code, and that the proposed repackaging for Max violates section 9 of the Code. However, the proposed repackaging for MusiquePlus does not violate section 9 of the Code. The CRTC also accepts in part the complaint by MusiquePlus, and states that Bell is modifying a legacy package on its own initiative by withdrawing the two independent discretionary services, which is not in the spirit of the Code. The CRTC therefore requires that Bell continue to offer the services in a package on the Genesis legacy platform. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2017-59).
April 6, 2017 the CRTC directs wireless service providers to implement Wireless Public Alerting (WPA) capability on their long-term evolution (LTE) networks by 6 April 2018. Alerts on mobile devices will warn Canadians about dangers to life and property in a timely manner so that they can take appropriate action. The CRTC directs the CRTC Interconnection Steering Committee (CISC) to resolve a number of outstanding issues before the mandatory distribution of emergency alert messages begins. One of these issues is ensuring the public is aware of this initiative. The CRTC determines that it will not require the implementation of WPA on pre-LTE networks or mobile satellite services. Bell Canada, and other interveners submitted that WSPs should receive liability indemnification during the course of providing all emergency services, including any liability arising from the delivery of emergency alert messages as part of WPA. The CRTC rules that carriers are free to set limitations of liability without Commission approval, subject to laws of general application (ie. contract, torts). The CRTC mandates the reception of emergency alert messages on mobile devices, based on a list developed by the Senior Officials Responsible for Emergency Management Federal/Provincial/Territorial Public Alerting Working Group (SOREM), as amended from time to time. The Commission is of the view that the adoption of the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) standard will assure Canadians of the authenticity of emergency alert messages received on their mobile devices. The Commission acknowledges SOREM’s intentions to explore governance mechanisms with other public alerting stakeholders and looks forward to contributing to and seeing the results of its efforts in this regard. The Commission directs each WSP to file, by 21 May 2018, and annually thereafter for a period of three years, a report confirming network implementation of alert distribution capability and interoperability with the National Alert Aggregation & Dissemination (NAAD) System. (Telecom Regulatory Policy CRTC 2017-91)
April 26, 2017 the CRTC approves, subject to certain conditions and modification, an application by Sirius XM Canada Holdings Inc., for authority to effect a change in its ownership structure. The proposed transaction would result in Canadian shareholders Obelysk and Slaight each holding 33.5% of the voting shares of Holdco, whereas Sirius US would hold 33%. This change in effective control would result in the payment of tangible benefits, and Sirius XM Canada was required to contribute $28.7 million into initiatives which would benefit the Canadian broadcasting system. The CRTC also requires a number of changes to be made to the documentation between the parties to ensure that the licensee remains Canadian owned and controlled. Approval of the transaction would take effect when the Commission receives proof of payment of a shortfall of CCD payments in the amount of $313,021 which the Commission found owing from the 2013-2014 broadcast year. (CRTC Broadcasting Decision 2017-114).
On August 14, the Governor in Council sent Broadcasting Decisions CRTC 2017-143 through 2017-151 (summarized below) back to the CRTC for reconsideration “in order to ensure that we achieve the right balance of investment in content and in the ability to compete.”
On May 15th, the CRTC renews the broadcasting licences held by the French-language ownership groups Bell Media Inc., Corus Entertainment Inc., Groupe V Média inc. and Quebecor Media Inc. for a new, five-year licence term starting on 1 September 2017. The CRTC also sets out a streamlined approach for the approval of changes to the contours and technical parameters of local television stations and transmitters as a result of the repurposing of the 600 MHz frequency band in Canada. The determinations set out in the decision, along with other determinations specific to each of the ownership groups, are implemented in the individual licence renewal decisions for the groups, also issued on this date. The Commission has set out measures implementing new exhibition requirements, new Canadian programming expenditure (CPE) requirements, and new Programs of National Interest (PNI) expenditure requirements, eliminating genre protection and applying the new standard conditions of licence, which are set out in Broadcasting Regulatory Policy 2016-436. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2017-143)
On May 15th, the Commission renews the broadcasting licences for the television services that will form Bell’s French-language Group for the next licence term, from 1 September 2017 to 31 August 2022. In addition, the Commission renews the broadcasting licence for RDS, which will not be part of the group, from 1 September 2017 to 31 August 2022. The Commission sets the minimum Canadian Programming Expenditure (CPE) threshold for the services in Bell’s French-language Group at 35% of the previous broadcast year’s gross revenues. In accordance with the determinations set out in the Introductory Decision [described above], the services can share CPE among themselves and benefit from credits if Bell makes expenditures for programming produced by Indigenous producers or producers from Official Language Minority Communities. The Commission sets the minimum PNI expenditure requirement for Bell’s French-language Group at 18% of the previous broadcast year’s gross revenues. The Commission denies Bell’s request to delete the requirement that 60% of the evening broadcast period be devoted to Canadian programming. The Commission also denies Bell’s request that the conditions of licence regarding the broadcast of Canadian programming be replaced by a requirement that Cinépop and Super Écran each devote at least 30% of the broadcast day to Canadian programming, instead of the standard requirement of 35% set out in Broadcasting Regulatory Policy 2015-86. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2017-144)
On May 15th, the Commission renews the broadcasting licences for the television services that will form Corus’s French-language Group for the next licence term from 1 September 2017 to 31 August 2022. Further, the Commission renews the broadcasting licence for the service La Chaîne Disney, which will not be included in the Group, from 1 September 2017 to 31 August 2022. The Commission imposes on La Chaîne Disney a condition of licence requiring it to devote at least 10% of its gross revenues from the previous broadcast year to CPE. The Commission sets the minimum CPE level for the services in Corus’s French-language Group at 26% of gross revenues from the previous broadcast year. The Commission also approves Corus’s request to delete the individual conditions of licence for Historia and Séries+ relating to original programs. In Broadcasting Decision 2016-110, the Commission reiterated that while it continues to recognize the structural separation that exists between the licensed subsidiaries of Shaw Communications and Corus, it has nonetheless treated these entities as being under the common effective control of Mr. JR Shaw when applying regulations, policies and safeguards in the area of concentration of ownership. Consistent with the application of the vertical integration policy on the services of Rogers, Bell, Shaw Communications and Quebecor, the application of that policy will apply to all of Corus’s services, regardless of language of operation. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2017-145)
On May 15th, the Commission renews for a period of five years the broadcasting licences for the various French-language television services that will form the Groupe V Média inc. group of services, from 1 September 2017 to 31 August 2022. The Commission determines that Groupe V Média’s group of services (Groupe V) will consist of the following services: its network known as V Montréal, CFAP-DT Québec, CFJP-DT Montréal, CFRS-DT Saguenay, CFKS-DT Sherbrooke, CFKM-DT Trois-Rivières, MusiquePlus, and MAX. The Commission imposes on Groupe V’s television services a condition of licence requiring the group’s services to devote 35% of the previous broadcast year’s gross revenues to CPE of which at least 10% of the previous broadcast year’s gross revenues are to be devoted to PNI for all services included in the group. The Commission also imposes on the Groupe V services a condition of licence requiring 75% of the group’s PNI expenditures to be devoted to programming produced by independent production companies. The Commission also imposes a condition of licence requiring the Groupe V stations to devote at least 5% of their gross revenues from the previous broadcast year to the acquisition of or investment in local news. Finally, the Commission approves the deletion of the condition of licence requiring contributions to the Remstar Fund by the services MusiquePlus and MAX. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2017-146)
On May 15th, the Commission renews the broadcasting licences for the various television stations and services that will form TVA Group for the next licence term, beginning 1 September 2017 and ending 31 August 2022. Further, the Commission renews the broadcasting licences for the various television services that will not be part of TVA Group for the next licence term, from 1 September 2017 to 31 August 2022. The Commission imposes on TVA Group a condition of licence requiring it to devote 45% of the previous broadcast year’s gross revenues to CPE for all its services. The Commission considers that a requirement of 25 hours of local programming for CFTM-DT is appropriate. The Commission imposes a requirement to the effect that CFTM-DT must devote six hours per broadcast week to the broadcast of locally reflective information and news programs. The Commission maintains the current requirements for local programming and imposes a new exhibition requirement relating to locally reflective news in accordance with the Local TV Policy. Therefore, in each broadcast week, the Québec station must devote at least 18 hours each week to local programming, including: at least 5 hours and 30 minutes of newscasts produced in Québec, at least 3 hours and 30 minutes of locally reflective news and information programming, and 3 hours and 30 minutes of other programs reflecting the Québec region. The Commission imposes conditions of licence on these stations requiring the broadcast of 5 hours of local programming, including 2 hours and 30 minutes of locally reflective news. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2017-147)
On May 15th, the broadcasting licences for the television services held by the large English-language ownership groups Bell Media Inc., Corus Entertainment Inc. and Rogers Media Inc. were renewed for a new licence term starting on 1 September 2017. In this decision, the Commission addresses the role these groups will play in serving Canadians and contributing to the achievement of the objectives of the Broadcasting Act over that licence term. The CRTC also maintains the 30% of revenue spending requirement on Canadian content but harmonizes the spending on Programs of National Interest (PNI) at 5% where previously they had been at varying amounts for different broadcasters. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2017-148)
On May 15th, the CRTC renewed the broadcasting licences for the various English-language television stations and services that will form the Bell Media Group in the next licence term, from 1 September 2017 to 31 August 2022. In addition, the Commission renews the broadcasting licences for various television services that are not included in the Bell Media Group in the next licence term, from 1 September 2017 to 31 August 2022. For Bell TV On Demand (terrestrial pay-per-view service) and Bell TV On Demand (direct-to-home pay-per-view service), the CRTC revokes the current broadcasting licences, effective 31 August 2017. New broadcasting licences will be issued for the services, which will take effect 1 September 2017 and expire 31 August 2022. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2017-149)
On May 15th, the CRTC renewed the broadcasting licences for the currently licensed television stations and discretionary services that will form part of the English-language Corus Entertainment Inc. (Corus) group in the next licence term, from 1 September 2017 to 31 August 2022. In addition, the CRTC approves the request by Corus for broadcasting licences to operate the currently exempt discretionary services Disney Channel, Disney Junior and Disney XD as licensed discretionary services. These licences will take effect 1 September 2017 and expire 31 August 2022. The discretionary services ABC Spark, National Geographic Wild and BC News 1, as well as Disney Channel, Disney Junior and Disney XD, will be included in Corus’s group of services. Further, Corus will maintain the bilingual licence for the discretionary service TELETOON/TÉLÉTOON, as well as the service’s current Canadian programming expenditure requirements in each linguistic market. Finally, the CRTC revokes the broadcasting licence for CKWS-TV-2 Prescott and approves Corus’s request to add that transmitter to the licence for CKWS-DT Kingston as a rebroadcasting transmitter. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2017-150)
On May 15th, the CRTC renewed the broadcasting licences for the currently licensed television stations and discretionary services that will form part of the Rogers Media Inc. Group in the next licence term, from 1 September 2017 to 31 August 2022. Further, the Commission renews the broadcasting licences for the mainstream sports services Sportsnet and Sportsnet One, and the on-demand service Rogers on Demand, from 1 September 2017 to 31 August 2022. In addition, the Commission renews the television network licence for the program Hockey Night in Canada, from 1 September 2017 to 31 August 2022. The Commission also renews the broadcasting licences for the OMNI television stations from 1 September 2017 to 31 August 2020. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2017-151)
On May 15th, the CRTC approves, in part, an application by Rogers Media Inc. (Rogers Media) to operate a national, multilingual multi-ethnic discretionary service to be known as OMNI Regional for a licence term of three years, beginning 1 September 2017 and ending 31 August 2020. The approval of this licence is an interim measure. The CRTC issues a call for applications for a national, multilingual multi-ethnic television service offering third-language news and information programming that, if licensed, would receive mandatory distribution on the digital basic service. To serve the needs of Canada’s ethnic and third-language communities in the interim, the Commission also approves Rogers Media’s request for mandatory distribution of OMNI Regional on the digital basic service for the licence term. To ensure that OMNI Regional serves the needs of these communities throughout its licence term, the Commission will impose specific programming requirements on the service, which are set out in Appendix 1. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2017-152 & 153)
On May 15th, the CRTC calls for applications from persons wishing to operate a national, multilingual multi-ethnic television service offering news and information programming as well as other programming. If licensed, such a service would receive mandatory distribution on the digital basic service. The Commission indicates that it is issuing this call to fill the exceptional need for a national, multi-ethnic television service that can provide Canadians with programming, including news and information, in multiple languages from a Canadian perspective. Persons interested in responding to this call must submit a duly completed application to the Commission by no later than 18 August 2017. (Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2017-154)
On June 14th, the CRTC approves an application by Northern Native Broadcasting (Terrace, B.C.) for a broadcasting licence to operate an English- and Indigenous-language Type B Native FM radio station to serve the urban Indigenous community in Vancouver. The Commission also approves applications by Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta for broadcasting licences to operate English- and Indigenous-language Type B Native FM radio stations to serve the urban Indigenous communities in Edmonton and Calgary. In addition, the Commission approves applications by First Peoples Radio Inc. for broadcasting licences to operate English- and Indigenous-language Type B Native FM radio stations to serve the urban Indigenous communities in Ottawa and Toronto. In light of the above, the CRTC denies the remaining applications for broadcasting licences to operate radio stations to serve the urban Indigenous communities in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa and Toronto. (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2017-198)
On July 18th, industry veteran Ian Scott is named chairman of the CRTC for a five year term commencing September 5th. The government also appoints public servant Caroline Simard to the role of vice-chair of broadcasting for a five year term commencing September 11th and names the CRTC’s senior general counsel Christianne Laizner as vice-chair of telecommunications, for a term of up to one year effective July 17th.
As noted above, on August 14, the Governor in Council sent the foregoing Broadcasting Decisions CRTC 2017-143 through 2017-151 back to the CRTC for reconsideration “in order to ensure that we achieve the right balance of investment in content and in the ability to compete.” In an interview, Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly said that the Government had received 89 petitions asking that the CRTC be asked to reconsider aspects of the decisions that could have a negative effect on the amount of money that broadcasters would spend on Canadian productions.
On 5 December 2017, the Commission issued a call for comments relating to the reconsideration of its May 2017 decisions renewing the licences of Canada’s largest French-language and English-language broadcasting groups. By way of background, after the Commission issued a series of decisions to renew those licences, by Order in Council P.C. 2017-1060 (the OIC), issued on 14 August 2017, the Governor in Council referred back to the Commission for reconsideration and hearing certain aspects of Broadcasting Decisions 2017-143 to 2017-147 (French-language ownership groups) and Broadcasting Decisions 2017-148 to 2017-151 (English-language ownership groups). The OIC indicated that the decisions derogated from the attainment of the objectives of the Canadian broadcasting policy set out in section 3(1) of the Broadcasting Act (the Act), and in particular section 3(1)(s). As part of the reconsideration process of the renewal decisions for the French-language ownership groups, the Commission was ordered to consider how to ensure that significant contributions are made to the creation and presentation of original French-language programming and music programming. As part of the reconsideration process of the renewal decisions for the English-language ownership groups, the Commission was ordered to consider how it can be ensured that significant contributions are made to the creation and presentation of: 1) programs of national interest; and 2) music programming, short films and short-form documentaries. The Order in Council also specified that in the reconsideration process (in respect of the renewal of the licences for both French-language and English language broadcasters), the Commission must “take into consideration that creators of Canadian programming are key to the Canadian broadcasting system and that, while the industry is going through a transformation, Canadian programming and a dynamic creative sector are vital to the system’s competitiveness and contribute to Canada’s economy.” Following these directions from the Governor in Council, the relevant broadcasting groups were asked to update their licence renewal applications and to submit any information relevant to the aspects of the decisions being reconsidered.
Broadcasting Decision 2018-334
[Introductory Note: By Order in Council P.C. 2017-1060, dated 14 August 2017 (the OIC), the Governor in Council referred back to the Commission for reconsideration and hearing certain aspects of the decisions set out in Broadcasting Decisions 2017-143 to 2017-147 (French-language ownership groups) and Broadcasting Decisions 2017-148 to 2017-151 (English-language ownership groups), indicating that the decisions derogate from the attainment of the objectives of the Canadian broadcasting policy set out in section 3(1) of the Broadcasting Act (the Act), and in particular section 3(1)(s).With respect to the French-language groups, the Governor in Council indicated that it would be material for the Commission to consider how it can be ensured that significant contributions are made to the creation and presentation of original French-language programming and music programming.]
On August 30th, the Commission issued the decision resulting from its reconsideration of the licence renewal applications of the French-language groups. It determined that with respect to original French-language programs, each group subject to the French-language group licensing regime will be required to devote at least 75% of its Canadian programming expenditures (CPE) to original French-language programs in each broadcast year over their respective licence terms. However, given that the groups will only have a short time to adjust their programming to meet the new requirements, the Commission is imposing an expenditure level equal to 50% of their CPE for the broadcast year beginning 1 September 2018 and ending 31 August 2019. With respect to music programming, the groups will be required to direct 0.17% of their services’ previous broadcast year’s gross revenues to MUSICACTION. This amount may be counted towards meeting the groups’ CPE, which includes expenditure on programs of national interest (“PNI”). This expenditure requirement will be temporary. The amended conditions of licence took effect on 1 September 2018, the beginning of the second year of the licence term for the groups’ affected services, and will apply until 31 August 2022, the end of the licence term.
Broadcasting Decision 2018-335
[Introductory Note: By Order in Council P.C. 2017-1060, dated 14 August 2017 (the OIC), the Governor in Council referred back to the Commission for reconsideration and hearing certain aspects of the decisions set out in Broadcasting Decisions 2017-143 to 2017-147 (French-language ownership groups) and Broadcasting Decisions 2017-148 to 2017-151 (English-language ownership groups), indicating that the decisions derogate from the attainment of the objectives of the Canadian broadcasting policy set out in section 3(1) of the Broadcasting Act (the Act), and in particular section 3(1)(s).With respect to the English-language groups, the Governor in Council indicated that it would be material for the Commission to consider how it can be ensured that significant contributions are made to the creation and presentation of programs of national interest and music programming, short films and short-form documentaries.]
On August 30th, the Commission determined that the Bell and Corus services that are part of the group licensing regime will be subject to PNI expenditure requirements of 7.5% and 8.5% of the previous broadcast year’s gross revenues, respectively. Rogers’ PNI expenditure requirements will be maintained at 5% of the previous broadcast year’s gross revenues. The groups will be required to direct 0.17% of their services’ previous broadcast year’s gross revenues to FACTOR. This amount may be counted towards meeting the groups’ Canadian programming expenditure requirement. This expenditure requirement will be temporary. The Commission considered that additional specific funding from the groups for short-form content was not necessary as the contributions of the Bell Fund to short-form content help to ensure adequate support for the creation of such content despite the dissolution of the BravoFACT fund. The amended conditions of licence took effect 1 September 2018, and will apply until 31 August 2022, the end of the licence term.
On October 1st 2018, as part of the newly negotiated USA-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) that replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) after thirteen months of hard negotiations between the three countries, Annex-15 in the USMCA included this wording in reference to the television broadcast of the Super Bowl:
“Canada shall rescind Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2016-334 and Broadcasting Order CRTC 2016-335. With respect to simultaneous substitution of commercials during the retransmission in Canada of the program referenced in those measures, Canada may not accord the program treatment less favorable than the treatment accorded to other programs originating in the United States retransmitted in Canada.”
This meant that, once Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2016-334 and Broadcasting Order CRTC 2016-335 are no longer in effect, the Canadian rightsholder (CTV) in the television broadcast would once again be entitled to have the Canadian signal, with Canadian commercials, substituted for the incoming US signal.
Telecom Decision CRTC 2018-384
On October 2nd, the Commission denies an application by the FairPlay Coalition and determined that it does not have the jurisdiction under the Telecommunications Act to implement the FairPlay Coalition’s proposed website blocking regime to address copyright piracy and, consequently, it would not consider the merits of implementing the regime. The FairPlay Coalition comprises more than 25 stakeholders, including broadcasting and telecommunications companies (e.g. Asian Television Network International Limited, Bell Canada, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Cogeco Connexion Inc., Corus Entertainment Inc., Ethnic Channels Group Limited, Rogers Communications Canada Inc., and Quebecor Media Inc.), unions and organizations associated with the broadcasting industry (e.g. the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists; l’Association québécoise de l’industrie du disque, du spectacle et de la vidéo; and l’Union des artistes), and organizations linked to the film and/or broadcasting industries (e.g. the Toronto International Film Festival and Cineplex Entertainment LP). Its application requests that the Commission create a regime that would identify websites and online services that are engaged in copyright piracy and require Internet service providers to block access to those websites and services.
In its decision the Commission acknowledges that while there is evidence that copyright piracy results in harm to the broadcasting system, there are other avenues to examine the means of minimizing or addressing the impact of copyright piracy, including the parliamentary review of the Copyright Act and the expert panel review of the Telecommunications Act and the Broadcasting Act.
Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2018-404
On October 23rd, the Commission approves an application by Newfoundland Capital Corporation Limited (NCCL), on behalf of Newcap Inc. and its licensed broadcasting subsidiaries, for authorization to effect a change in the ownership and effective control of various radio and television broadcasting undertakings in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador, so that effective control of the undertakings will be exercised by Mr. Eric Boyko. Newcap and its subsidiairies are the licensees of 71 radio stations and 29 rebroadcasting transmitters and of two conventional television stations in Alberta. This application follows an agreement entered into by Stingray Digital Group Inc. (Stingray), controlled by Mr. Boyko, with NCCL to acquire all issued and outstanding shares in the capital of NCCL. The value of the transaction is assessed at $523,949,242. The Commission according to its policy directs Stingray to allocate tangible benefits in the following manner: $30,104,028 to initiatives relating to radio and $859,277 to initiatives relating to television, for a total contribution of $30,963,305, all to be distributed equally over seven consecutive broadcast years.2019
Broadcasting Decision 2019-109 & 2019-110
On April 18th, the Commission finds that TVA Group Inc. (TVA Group) contravened section 15(1) of the Discretionary Services Regulations (the Regulations) by withholding TVA Sports’ signal from distribution by Bell Canada (Bell) in a way that prevented Bell from providing TVA Sports to Canadians during a dispute. Bell requests that the Commission revoke the licence for TVA Sports or, at a minimum, suspend the licence until 30 June 2019, to coincide with the last day of the NHL playoffs. Bell further requests that the Commission issue a mandatory order to maintain the signal and register it with the Federal Court before 23 April 2019, when the injunction issued by the Quebec Superior Court requiring Quebecor to restore service expires. Bell expressed concern that Quebecor would again pull its signal in the absence of an enforceable Commission order.
Pursuant to section 12(2) of the Broadcasting Act (the Act), the Commission issues a mandatory order requiring TVA Group to continue to provide its programming service TVA Sports to Bell until the present dispute becomes resolved and to comply with section 15(1) of the Regulations at all times. Further, pursuant to sections 9 and 24 of the Act, the Commission suspends the broadcasting licence for TVA Sports. However, the suspension will go into effect only if TVA Sports’ signal is withheld from Bell’s distribution undertakings by TVA Group prior to the resolution of the dispute.roadcasting Decision CRTC 2019-172 & Broadcasting Order CRTC 2019-173
Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2019-172 & Broadcasting Order CRTC 2019-173
On May 23rd, the Commission approves, in part, an application by Rogers Media Inc. to operate a new national, multilingual, multi-ethnic discretionary service to be known as OMNI Regional. The mandate of this service is to reflect multilingual multi-ethnic communities across Canada and provide news and information programming that meets their needs and interests. OMNI Regional will benefit from mandatory distribution on the digital basic service at a wholesale rate of $0.19 per subscriber per month. A licence term of three years, beginning 1 September 2020 and ending 31 August 2023, will align this licence with those of other services that benefit from mandatory distribution. The conditions of licence are set out in Appendix 1 of the decision. The mandatory distribution order is set out in Appendix 2 of the decision. The Commission denies the remaining applications seeking a licence to operate a national, multilingual multi-ethnic discretionary service and to benefit from an order requiring its distribution on the digital basic service.
Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2019-90
On March 28th, the Commission calls for comments on a new, annual digital media survey, to be administered to all currently licensed Canadian broadcasting undertakings (radio, television and distribution) as part of the Commission’s fall 2019 Annual Broadcasting Survey. The survey is not be administered to any non-Canadian digital media broadcasting undertakings that provide services in Canada, or to any Canadian digital media broadcasting undertakings that are not associated with a licensed undertaking. The purpose of the new digital media survey is to gather basic financial information on the digital media broadcasting activities of such undertakings that is necessary in order to gain a better understanding of those activities and of how they are changing in an increasingly digital environment. The deadline for the receipt of interventions is 14 May 2019. The deadline to file replies is 29 May 2019.
Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2019-91 and 2019-91-1
On March 28th, the Commission calls for comments on a proposal to update its policy on Canadian programming expenditures (CPEs) and, in doing so, to takes into account the digital media broadcasting environment. The Commission’s 2018 report entitled Harnessing Change: The Future of Programming Distribution in Canada, notes that Canadians will increasingly rely on the Internet to discover and consume music, entertainment, news and information. It also states, however, that applying regulations designed for traditional television and radio services to digital media poses significant challenges, including those relating to requirements to make financial contributions to Canadian production. The Commission further notes that existing definitions relating to distribution and programming services, and even to broadcasting, are challenged by digital services, and that new legislation was required to address the digital media environment. In its call for comments the Commission invites responses to the several questions regarding the overall approach it should take for updating its CPE policy.
With respect to this Notice of Consultation, a request for information letter dated 28 March 2019 was sent to 20 broadcasters operating conventional television and discretionary services in Canada. Commission staff requests data on revenues and expenditures associated with those broadcasters’ digital media broadcasting activities, with a reply deadline of 11 April 2019. Following a procedural request by one of those broadcasters, the reply deadline is extended to 18 April 2019. In the Notice, the Commission also indicates that it expected to publish some of the data on an aggregated basis. Some of the broadcasters that were sent the request for information letter complied with that request. However, in a joint reply dated 17 April 2019, fourteen of those broadcasters (the Broadcasters) indicated that they would not comply with the request. As a result, Commission directs certain broadcasters to comply with a request for information regarding data on revenues and expenditures associated with their digital media broadcasting activities by 3 June 2019. Consequently, the deadline for the receipt of interventions is changed to 8 July 2019, and the deadline to file replies to those interventions to 23 July 2019.Broadcasting Decision 2019-109 & 2019-110On April 18th, the Commission finds that TVA Group Inc. (TVA Group) contravened section 15(1) of the Discretionary Services Regulations (the Regulations) by withholding TVA Sports’ signal from distribution by Bell Canada (Bell) in a way that prevented Bell from providing TVA Sports to Canadians during a dispute. Bell requests that the Commission revoke the licence for TVA Sports or, at a minimum, suspend the licence until 30 June 2019, to coincide with the last day of the NHL playoffs. Bell further requests that the Commission issue a mandatory order to maintain the signal and register it with the Federal Court before 23 April 2019, when the injunction issued by the Quebec Superior Court requiring Quebecor to restore service expires. Bell expressed concern that Quebecor would again pull its signal in the absence of an enforceable Commission order.
Pursuant to section 12(2) of the Broadcasting Act (the Act), the Commission issues a mandatory order requiring TVA Group to continue to provide its programming service TVA Sports to Bell until the present dispute becomes resolved and to comply with section 15(1) of the Regulations at all times. Further, pursuant to sections 9 and 24 of the Act, the Commission suspends the broadcasting licence for TVA Sports. However, the suspension will go into effect only if TVA Sports’ signal is withheld from Bell’s distribution undertakings by TVA Group prior to the resolution of the dispute.
Broadcasting and Telecom Information Bulletin CRTC 2019-184 On May 29th the Commission publishes revised practices and procedures for dispute resolution. This information bulletin replaces Broadcasting and Telecom Information Bulletin 2013-637. These practices and procedures build upon those adopted by the Commission in the past and reflect recent changes in the broadcasting regulatory environment relating to maximizing choice for Canadian television viewers (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy 2015-96), and to the Commission’s Wholesale Code (Broadcasting Regulatory Policy 2015-438). In addition, the information bulletin provides clarification in regard to the availability of dispute resolution and the application of the standstill rule in broadcasting disputes. Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2019-209On June 13th, at the request of Corus Entertainment Inc. (Corus), the Commission deletes 44 rebroadcasting transmitters from Corus’s broadcasting licences for various over-the-air television stations across Canada. Corus stated that these transmitters do not generate any incremental revenue and generally attract little to no added viewership, due in part to their locations in smaller markets. The Commission considers that in the circumstances, there would not be any loss of local or other original programming in the Canadian broadcasting system under this proposal, given that no stations that originate their own unique programming would be shut down. Further, the Commission, by majority decision, approves with changes Corus’s request to reallocate the $2,365,771 of tangible benefits that has not yet been expended on the digital conversion of its transmitters to a number of eligible initiatives. Of this amount, at least 80% shall be allocated to the Canada Media Fund, with the remaining 20% being distributed to educational institutions, the Ontario Association of Broadcasters and the Western Association of Broadcasters.
Broadcasting Notice of Proceeding CRTC 2019-217
On June 20th, the Commission launches a proceeding to review its policy on Indigenous broadcasting and co-develop a new framework for Indigenous broadcasting in Canada with Indigenous peoples. The Broadcasting Act recognizes that the broadcasting system has an important role to play in reflecting and supporting the special place that Indigenous peoples occupy in Canadian society and ensuring that it provides programming that reflects Indigenous cultures. The purpose of this proceeding is to modernize the existing regulatory framework so that the Canadian broadcasting system can adequately support the special needs of Indigenous peoples, now and in the future. The proceeding will include three phases: Phase One – Early engagement sessions; Phase Two – Public consultation; Phase Three – Preliminary conclusions and determinations. The Commission invites Indigenous broadcasters, content creators and artists within the Indigenous broadcasting creative community in Canada to participate in Phase One. Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2019-231
On June 28th, the Commission denies the application by Videotron Ltd. to replace certain conditions of licence related to the national set-top box-based audience measurement system (the measurement system). The Commission is of the view that the objectives of the measurement system set out in Broadcasting Decision 2018-263 are still relevant and that the arguments raised by Videotron to justify its application are not significantly different from the elements that the Commission took into consideration in 2018-269. Further, given the delays caused by this application, the Commission extends the deadline for the implementation of the measurement system to 15 January 2020. Videotron shall also confirm with the Commission that it has rejoined the working group by no later than 5 July 2019. At the same time, it invites licensees of broadcasting distribution undertakings subject to the applicable conditions of licence to file an application to reflect this new deadline. Broadcasting Information Bulletin CRTC 2019-304
On August 29, the Commission replaces the existing Programs of National Interest Report with a Production Report for the large English and French-language ownership groups. Broadcasters will need to report spending on original, first-run programming and other content, including that produced by official language minority communities and Indigenous producers. Broadcasters are now also required to report on their efforts to commission programming made by women occupying the roles of producer, director, writer, cinematographer and editor, as well as programs that have women occupying the roles of first and second lead performers. The Regional Production Report is not being replaced and will continue to be required in addition to the Production Report. A template for reporting along with detailed instructions is appended to the Bulletin. The large English- and French-language ownership groups will be required to file their first Production Report for the 2018-2019 broadcast year by no later than 29 February 2020 and their subsequent Production Reports by no later than 30 November of each year. Broadcasting Regulatory Policy 2019-308 and 2019-308-1
On August 30th, the Commission approves a new accuracy rate and measurement model for live programming based on a proposal by the 2016 Working Group which included the English Language Broadcasters Group, representatives from associations for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, closed captioning providers and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT). Specifically, the CRTC establishes a rate of 98 for English-language live programming, based on the NER model as described in the Canadian NER Evaluation Guidelines. This replaces the previous 95% accuracy test based on the verbatim test. From 1 September 2019 to 29 February 2020, broadcasters will be expected to reach this accuracy rate. Beginning 1 March 2020, this expectation will become a requirement. Reporting of monitoring results will now be done annually rather than every two years, and two programs per month will be monitored for quality, one from the “news” category and one from a genre that fairly represents the live program mix of the broadcaster. In CRTC 2019-308-1, the Commission corrects Appendix 2 to Broadcasting Regulatory Policy 2019-308 so that the NER score calculation equation reads as follows: NER SCORE = (Words – NER Deductions) / Words x 100. The full set of revised closed captioning quality standards and the Canadian NER Evaluation Guidelines are available here: https://crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2019/2019-308.htm.
Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2019-397 (see also 379-2, 379-3, 379-4 and 2020-201)
On November 25, 2019, the CRTC releases its notice of hearing to consider the applications by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation/Société Radio-Canada (CBC) to renew the licences for its various English- and French-language audio and audio-visual programming services.
The CBC’s services up for renewal include: French-language television stations (Vancouver, Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montréal, Québec, Rimouski, Sherbrooke, Trois‐Rivières, Saguenay/Chicoutimi, Moncton); French-language discretionary services (ICI ARTV, ICI EXPLORA, ICI RDI); French-language radio stations (ICI Première Chaîne, ICI Musique); English-language television stations (Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg, Windsor, Toronto, Ottawa, Montréal, Fredericton, Halifax, Charlottetown, St. John’s, Yellowknife); English-language discretionary services (CBC News Network, The documentary channel); and English-language radio stations (Radio One, Radio Two/CBC Music).The CBC has also proposed to increase the monthly wholesale rates for its two national news services that have mandatory distribution on digital basic: CBC News Network in French-language markets – from $0.15 to $0.20 and ICI RDI in English-language markets – from $0.10 to $0.13.
In the notice, the CRTC invites responses to a number of questions related to the CBC’s programming; establishing a regulatory approach that is consistent with the CBC’s mandate and best meets the needs of Canadians; and establishing a measurement framework that reports on the achievement of the CBC’s mandate as set out in the Broadcasting Act in order to ensure it remains transparently accountable to Canadians and to the CRTC in regard to its programming and activities.
Broadcasting Regulatory Policy 2019-392
On December 3rd, the CRTC approves with amendments a COL proposed by Bell, Rogers and Corus that programming received without described video (DV) less than 72 hours before broadcast in prime time be exempt from the requirement to provide DV. Specifically, the amendment shortens the proposed 72 hour timeframe to 24 hours and requires that excepted programs are broadcast with DV for repeat airings. Excepted programs must air with a logo and audio notification that repeat broadcasts will air with full DV at a future time. The licensees are also encouraged to form a Working Group to develop solutions to the exception, and are required to report to the Commission at six month intervals on their progress. Progress will be also be reviewed at licence renewal time.
Broadcasting Decision 2019-422
On December 16th, the Commission denies the application by Cablevision du Nord de Québec inc. to withdraw its third-party Internet access service and encourages the parties to continue negotiations until a final agreement is reached. The Commission makes this decision in light of the intervention and the related applications filed by Videotron Ltd on 10 July 2019 concerning Cablevision’s application. Videotron submits in these applications that Videotron had contacted Cablevision on 16 October 2018 with the intention of becoming a customer of the TPIA service, and had subsequently engaged in negotiations and the signing of a confidentiality agreement and exchange of draft master agreements. Cablevision had failed to inform Videotron of its intention to withdraw its TPIA service. Broadcasting Decision 2019-423
On December 16th, the Commission approves in part the two applications by Videotron Ltd. (Videotron). The Commission encourages Cablevision du Nord de Québec inc. (Cablevision) and Videotron to continue their negotiations to conclude a third-party Internet access (TPIA) service agreement. The Commission directs Cablevision to file with the Commission a tariff notice for its TPIA service by no later than 3 February 2020, and to be ready to implement the interconnections at the Val-d’Or and Rouyn-Noranda points of interconnection by no later than 3 April 2020.
Broadcasting Decision 2019-427
On December 19th, the Commission finds Bell conferred undue preference upon RDS and subjected TVA Sports to an undue disadvantage. The Commission finds that Bell Canada and Bell ExpressVu Inc. (the general partner) as well as Bell Canada (the limited partner), carrying on business as Bell ExpressVu Limited Partnership, has conferred an undue preference upon RDS, its discretionary sports service, and has subjected the service TVA Sports to an undue disadvantage by packaging the two services in a different manner. The preference and disadvantage are undue since they have caused a material adverse impact on TVA Group Inc. and on the achievement of objectives of the Broadcasting Act. Accordingly, the Commission directs Bell to report back to the Commission, by no later than 5 February 2020 on a new packaging structure that would neither unduly disadvantage TVA Sports nor unduly prefer RDS.
Broadcasting Decision 2019-429
On December 19th, the Commission finds Quebecor did not subject Bell to undue preference or disadvantage when modifying its Super Écran package. The Commission finds that although Quebecor Media Inc., on behalf of Videotron Ltd., has conferred a preference upon Club Illico, its hybrid video on-demand service, and has subjected Bell Media Inc. (Bell) to a disadvantage when it modified the packaging of Super Écran, at this time the preference and disadvantage are not undue. Accordingly, the Commission dismisses the complaint by Bell.
Bell Canada v. Canada (Attorney General)
On December 19, 2019, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the CRTC Order (and related Decision) that disallowed simultaneous substitution of the NFL’s annual Super Bowl game, saying that it was not authorized under s. 9(1)(h) of the Broadcasting Act. Simultaneous substitution was enshrined in various regulations under the Broadcasting Act and allowed for a television service provider to temporarily delete and replace the entire signal of a distant (usually national or international) television station with the signal of another (usually local) television station that was airing the same program at the same time. Until the CRTC’s Order, the Canadian broadcast of the Super Bowl had been subject to the simultaneous substitution regime and Canadians were prevented from viewing the version of the game broadcast in the United States which featured high-profile American commercials. Bell Canada and Bell Media, which held the Canadian rights to the game under a multi-year contract with the NFL, and the NFL, had both appealed the Order through the courts until the actions were joined and the Supreme Court agreed to hear both actions together. The result of the Supreme Court’s decision was that the Super Bowl would once again be subject to the same simultaneous substitution rules as the rest of the Canadian broadcasting system and Canadians would once again not be able to watch the US version of the Super Bowl. However, Canadians could still expect to be able to see the “high profile” U.S. Super Bowl commercials, which had been made available on several other channels and widely over the Internet in recent years.
The year 2020 was marked by the advent of the Corona virus Covid-19, which quickly became a pandemic of major proportions. Broadcasters around the world were affected by its appearance, both by the public’s expectations to be kept informed and updated on the growth of the virus and progress made to find a vaccine, and by the inevitable effect on commerce in general and the availability of advertiser dollars in particular. This effect on the industry would result in much dialogue between broadcasters and the CRTC, and would affect several of the Decisions that are reported in the following pages.
Broadcasting Notice of Proceeding CRTC 2020-25
On January 28, 2020, the Commission initiates a proceeding to review the commercial radio policy framework. This proceeding includes the resumption of the Review of the regulatory framework for French-language vocal music applicable to the French-language commercial radio sector, initially announced in 2015-318. The proceeding will consist of three phases: Phase 1: A conversation with Canadians through public opinion research; Phase 2: The Commission will publish a notice of consultation in which it will invite interested parties to submit their comments; Phase 3: an appearing public hearing, if necessary. The Commission releases no timelines for the implementation of these phases in this Notice.
Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2019-379-1
On January 28, 2020, following the submission of a study on public broadcasters in other jurisdictions, which is added to the public record of the renewal proceeding, the Commission extends the deadline for the submission of interventions to the licence renewal proceeding to February 20, 2020. Consequently, the new deadline for the submission of replies from the licensee is March 6, 2020.
BTLR Report “A Time to Act” January 29, 2020
On January 29, 2020, the federal Broadcasting & Telecommunications Legislative Review Panel (BTLRP) releases Canada’s Communications Future: Time to Act, its final report and recommendations to government. Created in June 2018, by the Ministers of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada and Canadian Heritage, the six-member Panel reviewed Canada’s decades-old Broadcasting, Telecommunications and Radiocommunication Acts and made recommendations for modernizing the legislation and regulatory framework. Canada’s Communications Future: Time to Act contains 97 specific recommendations touching on four themes:•Reducing barriers to access by all Canadians to advanced telecommunications networks;•Supporting the creation, production and discoverability of Canadian content;•Improving the rights of the digital consumer; and•Renewing the institutional framework for the communications sector.
Broadcasting Notices of Consultation CRTC 2020-108 and 357
On March 26, 2020, the CRTC calls for comments on a proposed amendment to subsection 12(9) of the Broadcasting Distribution Regulations. The proposed amendment is clerical, replacing the reference to the previous Practices and Procedures for Dispute Resolution (CRTC 2013-637) with the updated CRTC 2019-184, which clarifies the practices and procedures relating to dispute resolution, most notably the application of the standstill rule in broadcasting disputes. The Commission is calling for comments on the wording of the proposed amendment with an intervention deadline of April 27, 2020. On October 23, 2020, the CRTC calls for comments on a proposed amendment to section 52 of the CRTC Rules of Practice and Procedure and subsection 14(4)(a) of the Discretionary Services Regulations. Theses amendments also replace the reference to the previous Practices and Procedures for Dispute Resolution (CRTC 2013-637) with the updated CRTC 2019-184. The Commission is calling for comments on the wording of the proposed amendment with an intervention deadline of November 23, 2020.
Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2020-114
On April 2, 2020, the Commission approves, subject to certain modifications, an application by Leclerc Communication inc. for authority to acquire from Média ClassiQ inc. the assets of the French-language commercial specialty radio station CJPX-FM Montréal, and for a new broadcasting licence to continue the operation of this station. In its decision, the Commission denies the request by Leclerc for a new seven-year broadcasting licence, and instead grants a two-year licence to align its licence term with CJPX-FM Montréal and CJEC-FM Québec.
Commission approves the request by Leclerc to delete CJPX-FM’s conditions of licence relating to the specialty format to allow the station to operate under a commercial mainstream format (Adult Album Alternative – Triple A and Adult Contemporary), and sets the value of the transaction at $4,889,163.
Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2020-115
On April 3, 2020, The Commission approves the application by Groupe V Média inc.(V Média), on behalf of MusiquePlus inc. (MusiquePlus), for authority to change the ownership of MusiquePlus. The Commission also approves the application by V Média, on behalf of MusiquePlus, to amend certain conditions of licence for the discretionary services ELLE Fictions and MAX. In light of CPE and PNI expenditure surpluses accumulated by Groupe V and the distribution of certain of its surpluses to the discretionary services operated by Musique Plus, the Commission directs MusiquePlus to file, by no later than November 30, 2020, as a condition of approval, a document relating to the distribution of surpluses between V Média and MusiquePlus.
Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2020-116
On April 3, 2020, the CRTC authorizes Bell Canada’s application to acquire V Interactions and create a new French-language Bell Media Group. V Interactions also holds the licence for MusiquePlus inc. (MusiquePlus) and is the licensee of the French-language television network called V and of five French-language television stations. The Commission imposes conditions of licence to guarantee adequate levels of investment in local programming (5 hours per week for Montréal and Québec City markets in 2020-2021 increasing to 8 hours and 30 minutes in 2021-2022; the stations will also be required to broadcast at least 5 hours of local programming per week for the Trois-Rivières, Saguenay and Sherbrooke markets), a CPE threshold of 40% of the previous broadcast year’s gross revenues, and commitments to original French-language Canadian programming. The CRTC also directs Bell to invest more than $3 million, which will be allocated to the Canada Media Fund and Bell Fund in equal annual payments over seven consecutive broadcast years. The rationale for this decision will be published at a later date (see Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2020-154 below).
Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2020-154
On April 3, 2020 the CRTC authorizes Bell Canada’s application to acquire V Interactions and create a new French-language Bell Media Group. On May 19, 2020, the Commission releases its reasoning for this decision. In evaluating the transaction, the Commission considers the impact on the broadcasting system, local programming and local news, Canadian programming expenditures, accessibility, and the value of the transaction and the tangible benefits.
Impact on the Broadcasting System
When evaluating the impact on the broadcasting system, the Commission looks at the viability of the V Stations, the players in the broadcasting system in the French-language market, and the diversity of voices in the market. The Commission finds that in properly evaluating the impact of the transaction from a French-language market perspective, only Quebecor and SRC would feel the impact of the transaction and that due to the numerous assets at their disposal, they would be able to compete with Bell in the French-language market. With respect to diversity of voices, the Commission explains that, following the transaction, Bell would hold a 22% share of the French-language television market, below the usual 35% threshold. In addition, Bell would own in these markets only one conventional television station and no local newspaper. In this assessment, the Commission also considers commitments made by Bell regarding in-house production of local newscasts as well as the requirements imposed by the Commission relating to broadcast of news.
CPE and PNI
The Bell Media Group will also be required to spend at least 40% of the previous year’s revenues on Canadian programming and at least 18% of the previous year’s revenues on programs of national interest. These new thresholds represent an increase since Bell Media’s current threshold for Canadian programming expenditures is 35%, while the V stations’ current threshold for programs of national interest is 10%. The Commission explains in its decision that the imposition of a 40% CPE threshold would allow the new French-language Bell Media Group to benefit from a level of flexibility in the new transition period, while taking into account the proposals from a number of intervenors. It should also be noted that a maximum of 25% of the CPE required from the V Stations may be allocated to the discretionary services of the new French-language Bell Media Group.
Value of the Transaction and Tangible Benefits
The Commission further directs Bell to pay tangible benefits amounting to $3,133,863, which will be allocated to the Canada Media Fund (60%) and Bell Fund (40%) in equal annual payments over seven consecutive broadcast years.
Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2019-397-2
On April 8, 2020, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commission postpones the hearing that was to begin on May 25, 2020 to consider the applications by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation/Société Radio-Canada to renew the broadcasting licences for its various English- and French-language audio and audio-visual programming services. The hearing date is to be announced at a later time.
Telecom and Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2020-124, 124-1, and 124-2
On April 14, 2020, in light of its new role under the Accessible Canada Act (ACA), the Commission will be creating new regulations regarding the accessibility reporting requirements for broadcasting undertakings, Canadian telecommunications common carriers, and telecommunications service providers. As a first step in that process, the Commission is seeking comments on (i) how to structure draft regulations and (ii) certain procedural requirements of those draft regulations. In a subsequent consultation, the Commission will seek comments on the draft regulations, which will be based on input the Commission receives in response to the present call for comments. The deadline for interventions is May 14, 2020, and all parties must file replies to intervention by May 29, 2020.
On May 13, 2020, the Commission revises the deadline for submission of interventions to June 12, 2020, and deadline for submission of replies to June 22, 2020. On June 4, 2020, the Commission approves a proposal by Bell Canada regarding the use of $125,000 from its deferral account. These funds shall be made available to defray the costs of public-interest and accessibility intervenor participation in this proceeding and, if any funds remain, in the follow-up proceeding. Both proceedings are aimed at making regulations under the Accessible Canada Act.
Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2020-158
On May 21, 2020, the Commission becomes aware of an error in paragraph 5 and 6 of Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2020-115 which indicated that following the transaction, MusiquePlus will be the wholly owned subsidiary of MusiquePlus, on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated (OBCI), which will be held by the Shareholders according to the current shareholder structure of Groupe V Média inc. (V Média). Although this is the wording used in the application filed with the Commission by V Média, on behalf of MusiquePlus inc. (MusiquePlus), it was found that Appendix 2 to this application indicates a slightly modified distribution of shares. Indeed, under the proposed corporate restructuring, Fiducie Seismikmax will no longer be a shareholder of MusiquePlus, OBCI. This change in the shareholder composition does not, however, modify the effective control of MusiquePlus, OBCI, which will continue to be exercised by Maxime Rémillard. This error does not affect the Commission’s findings in Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2020-115.
Broadcasting Decisions CRTC 2020-191 and 192, and Broadcasting Order CRTC 2020-193On June 15, 2020, the CRTC issues a decision indicating that it would add QVC in its unmodified form (i.e. the original U.S. feed) to the List of non-Canadian programming services and stations authorized for distribution (the List). The CRTC also amends the Exemption Order respecting Teleshopping Service Undertakings (Teleshopping Exemption Order) to allow modified U.S. home shopping services to operate in Canada. Both of these decisions are a result of the Direction issued by the Governor in Council to the Commission to implement the new Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), which comes into effect July 1, 2020.
While the Commission authorizes QVC to be added to the List, the Commission also confirms and details its reasoning from its 2016 decision which denied VMedia’s application to distribute QVC in Canada pursuant to the List. The Commission’s reasoning for revising the Teleshopping Exemption Order is as a result of the provision in CUSMA requiring U.S. home shopping programming services to have access to the Canadian broadcasting system. Under the revised Teleshopping Exemption Order, any U.S. programming undertaking specializing in home shopping that is modified for the Canadian market is able to operate in Canada under the exemption order.
Therefore, QVC may distribute the exact same (unaltered) programming in Canada as it does in the U.S. without adhering to the Teleshopping Exemption Order. However, if QVC (or any other U.S. home shopping service) would like to modify its service to create a Canadian feed, it will be subject to the Teleshopping Exemption Order.
Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2020-238On June 16, 2020, the Commission denies the application from 9116-1299 Québec inc. to renew the broadcasting licence for the French-language commercial radio station CFOR-FM Maniwaki, Quebec. The Commission’s reasoning for denying the application is due to the severity and recurrence of the current instances of non-compliance; of the station’s history of non-compliance and the licensee’s actions, which demonstrate its poor understanding of its conditions of licence and regulatory obligations, or its lack of willingness to respect them; of its inability to implement the necessary measures to ensure compliance; and of its disregard for the Commission’s authority and for its responsibilities as a broadcaster, the Commission is not convinced that the imposition of conditions of licence or mandatory orders, a suspension or a short-term renewal would be effective measures. Consequently, the Commission finds that not renewing the licence is the only appropriate measure in the circumstances.
The Commission also denies the procedural request for an extension filed by the licensee to allow the latter to file the documentation required to fulfill the commitments made to the Commission as part of the public hearing.
Broadcasting Order CRTC 2020-195
On June 17, 2020, the CRTC announces that the estimated 2020-2021 Part 1 Broadcasting Licence Fees (which have been waived by the federal government in light of COVID-19) are $32.340 million, which is a 0.49% decrease from the $32.498 million for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.
Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2019-397-3
On June 22, 2020, the CRTC announces that the CBC’s licence renewal proceeding is now scheduled to begin on January 11, 2021 after the announcement of its postponement in May. In response to interveners who submitted that there was a lack of financial transparency regarding CBC’s digital revenues and expenses in the intervention period that ended February 13, 2020, the CRTC has added the new information submitted by the CBC to the public record for this proceeding.
The Commission also reopens the intervention period with respect to this new information only in order to give parties a chance to respond to it. Interventions that fall outside the scope of this additional information will not be considered by the Commission. The deadline to submit interventions/comments/answers regarding the new information is July 13, 2020, and the CBC will have until July 23, 2020 to reply.
Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2020-201
On June 22, 2020, the Commission extends the administrative renewal of CBC’s broadcasting licences for its television and radio programming undertakings from September 1, 2020 to August 31, 2021, subject to the terms and conditions in effect under the current licences. The distribution orders for CBC News Network, ICI RDI and ICI ARTV are also extended until August 31, 2021.
Broadcasting Decisions CRTC 2020-205 and 206On June 29, 2020, the CRTC renews the broadcasting licence of Allarco Entertainment Inc.’s Super Channel for a four-year period (July 1, 2020 to August 31, 2024). Due to what the Commission describes as “serious non-compliance” during Super Channel’s first licence term, the renewal is subject to a suspension if Allarco fails to pay for the shortfall the licensee accumulated during the previous licence term with regard to required script and concept development expenditures; or if the licensee obtains protection under the CCAA or the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. In order to meet the condition of paying the CPE shortfall from its previous licence term, Allarco is now required to make bi-annual payments in instalments of about $630,000 to the CMF beginning in February 2021 and extending over the course of the four-year licence term. The Commission also directs the licensee to submit an affidavit confirming the payment no later than 30 days after the payment is made. Several intervenors recommend that Allarco should only receive a three-year licence extension, but the CRTC ultimately decides that the $5 million CPE shortfall could reasonably be repaid over four years, and that the longer term would give Allarco more stability and the opportunity to demonstrate its willingness to comply with its regulatory obligations.
The Commission does not re-impose conditions of licence concerning the regional outreach program and the script and concept development expenditures. In its reasoning, the Commission explains that although Allarco’s failure to comply with its CPE obligations would normally prompt the CRTC to re-impose them as a COL, the initial requirement was imposed as a result of a competitive process at a time when genre protection was still in effect. Additionally, the Commission notes that this type of condition is not typically imposed on discretionary services. The Commission also does not make a finding of non-compliance with respect to Allarco’s Canadian exhibition obligations, as they acknowledged that the reporting could have been complicated by a number of factors including monitoring and system changes instituted midway through the licence term. Given the foregoing, the Commission finds that imposing non-standard Canadian content conditions of licence was unjustified and would be unfair to Super Channel. The Commission also issues a mandatory order requiring Allarco to devote at least 30% of the previous year’s gross revenues to CPE, stating this was necessary given “Allarco’s history in respect of its CPE requirements and the Commission’s concerns with its willingness and ability to comply going forward.” The licensee will also be required to file an annual production report.
Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2020-220
On July 10, 2020, the Commission approves Corus’ application to increase its maximum allowable yearly under-expenditure for CPE from 5% to 10% for their English-language television services, with the same flexibility on PNI expenditures. However, the Commission denies Corus’ request that the under-expenditures be repaid over the course of the current licence term, and instead any amount underspent in one year must be made up in the subsequent year. Corus’ CPE obligations remain at 30% of previous years’ revenues. The Commission also explains that requiring Corus to make up any under-expenditures for one year in the subsequent year only creates a maximum annual fluctuation in expenses of less than 1% of the overall CPE. In the Commission’s view, allowing Corus to make up resulting shortfalls over the course of the licence term would have presented too much of a risk of permitting substantial shortfalls to accumulate.
The Commission explains in this decision that its policy behind allowing spending flexibility on CPE requirements for broadcasters is to accommodate certain market and other realities that were unforeseen, as broadcasters are required to base their programming expenditures on revenue totals that are not fully known to them until several months into the broadcast year. The Commission finds its partial approval of Corus’ request to be consistent with the Broadcasting Act and notes that the Commission has in the past traditionally allowed certain flexibilities in regard to the accounting of spending on Canadian programming.
Corus requested this amendment in October 2019 due to significant revenue swings over the last two broadcasting years which they determined would drive an unanticipated spike in Corus’ CPE requirements for the 2019-2020 broadcasting year.
Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2020-239
On July 31, 2020, The Commission denies the application from Groupe Médias Pam inc. to renew the broadcasting licence for the French-language commercial radio station CJMS Saint-Constant, Quebec. The Commission’s reasoning for denying the application is due to the severity and recurrence of the current instances of non-compliance; of the station’s history of non-compliance and the licensee’s actions, which demonstrate a poor understanding of its conditions of licence and regulatory obligations, or a lack of willingness to respect them; of its inability to implement the necessary measures to ensure compliance; and of its disregard for the Commission’s authority and for its responsibilities as a broadcaster. Therefore, the Commission is convinced that the imposition of conditions of licence or of mandatory orders, a suspension, or a short-term licence renewal would not be effective measures. Consequently, the Commission finds that not renewing the licence is the only appropriate measure in the circumstances.
Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2020-336
On September 17, 2020, the Commission issues a call for comments in relation to the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB)’s Part 1 Application requesting regulatory relief for Canadian broadcasters in light of COVID-19. Due to the potential implications of the CAB’s application on the various elements of the broadcasting system, the Commission decides to consider the application in the context of a notice of consultation, rather than through the Part 1 application process. In the CAB’s Part 1 application filed on July 13, 2020, the CAB requests immediate regulatory relief by proposing:
1)“Deemed compliance,” whereby the Commission deems broadcasting licensees to have met their conditions of licence and regulations relating to spending for the 2019-2020 broadcast year regardless of actual levels of expenditures made, and would not require that any shortfalls be made up in subsequent broadcast years. 2)That the Commission formally confirm any necessary flexibility for exhibition-related and other conditions of licence subject to a “should resources permit” condition. 3)A proposal to suspend, as of July 31, 2020, the pre-approval requirement for local management agreements (LMAs) for radio stations for a minimum period of 18 months, granting implicit permission for two differently-owned radio stations in a given market to be co-managed by one entity and allowing for the co-sale of advertising between those stations and entities.
In its preliminary findings, the Commission explains that any review of the Commission’s current approach to LMAs is best dealt with in the context of the future proceeding resulting from Broadcasting Notice of Proceeding CRTC 2020-25, the Commercial Radio Policy Framework review, and not as part of this current proceeding. The Commission also believes that “deemed compliance” may not align with the Commission’s proposed outcomes for the proceeding, which focus on ensuring that other parties in the Canadian broadcasting system who benefit from these requirements are not unreasonably affected by the granting of any potential relief. Instead, the Commission proposes that it may be more appropriate to adopt an approach, applicable to all broadcasters, whereby financial requirements could be spread over several broadcast years to ensure that broadcasters have the flexibility they need, while ensuring that the broadcasting system benefits from broadcasters’ financial contributions as Canada’s creative industries ramp back up to full capacity.
The Commission is asking for comments on whether the suggested regulatory relief in both the CAB’s initial application and by the Commission in this notice align with the proposed outcomes for this proceeding. The Commission also asks how the proposed relief should be implemented, and if there is other possible regulatory relief that should be considered. Finally, the Commission outlines the importance of being able to monitor any flexibility granted to broadcasters, and asks for comments relating to implementing an effective monitoring tool.
The deadline for the receipt of interventions is October 19, 2020, and the deadline for the filing of replies is October 29, 2020.
November 3, Bill C-10, An Act to Amend the Broadcasting Act
On November 3, 2020, Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault tables amendments to the Broadcasting Act that, if passed, would empower the CRTC to implement a ‘modernized’ broadcasting regulatory framework such that both traditional and online broadcasters will contribute to Canadian content in an ‘appropriate manner.’ The amendments would subject online streaming services such as Netflix and Disney+ to CRTC regulation (e.g. contribution and discoverability requirements as well as programming reflective of, and accessible to, French-speaking Canadians, Indigenous People, racialized communities and People with Disabilities). The amendments would also grant administrative monetary penalty powers (AMPs) to the CRTC to enforce the new requirements. Once the Bill is passed, the Minister will issue a policy direction to the CRTC asking it to hold a hearing and complete the process within 9 months to ensure online broadcasters are making contributions by then. Estimates are that the new funding sources will bring $830M annually into the domestic funding ecosystem by 2023.
Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2019-397-4
On November 10, 2020, the Commission announces that the CBC licence renewal hearing on January 11, 2021 will be held virtually. The Commission also denies a procedural request from the Community Media Advocacy Centre regarding the provision of data by the CBC relating to human resources and employment equity. In a letter also issued November 10, 2020, the Commission requests that the Corporation file additional information relating to the manner in which the production of its English- and French-language programming meaningfully includes in key production roles members of the diverse Canadian population – which includes women, Indigenous Peoples, ethnic and multicultural communities, Canadians with disabilities and Canadians who identify as LGBTQ2. If the Corporation does not have or collect this information, the letter requests that it explain how it believes it can meet its diversity targets without such information. The Commission has requested that the Corporation file its reply providing this information by no later than December 1, 2020.
Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2020-374
On November 12, 2020, the CRTC issues its Notice of Consultation for the Commercial Radio Policy Review. This release initiates Phase 2 of this review. Phase 1, a conversation with Canadians through public opinion research was initiated in March 2020 and to complete this research, the Commission has concurrently launched an online survey on commercial radio, which will close November 26, 2020. Phase 3 is an appearing public hearing, if necessary. However, the Commission states its intention is to conduct this review without holding a hearing. The Commission also notes that if any changes are made to the Broadcasting Act during this review process, the Commission will notify interested parties on how to proceed to take this into account. In the Notice, the Commission has separated its 54 questions into two main categories: funding (CCD contributions/ownership restrictions) and programming (music programming and spoken word, including news). The following is a brief outline of some of the issues that will be addressed by the Commission in this review:
Common Ownership Policy
•Are the criteria for defining the size of a market (fewer than eight, or eight or more stations) still appropriate and relevant, should the number of stations of a particular language that one entity can own in a given market be different for large vertically integrated/national players than for independent local players, are guidelines regarding contour overlapping (used to determine number of stations that can be operated in a market) still appropriate and relevant, is it still relevant to limit the number of stations that a single entity can hold on the AM band in a market?;•Should licensees be able to convert their AM stations to the FM band when they have maximized the number of FM stations allowed in a market, in what circumstances should the Commission allow exceptions to the Common Ownership Policy, what advantages would there be for the financial health of Canada’s commercial radio sector if the Commission were to allow a single entity to operate more than two FM stations in a particular language in a given market?;
•Basic CCD Contributions, Over-and above contributions, Tangible Benefits•In noting that the decline in the commercial radio market will cause a significant decrease to CCD contributions – should formulas for calculating contributions be modified to maintain the current contribution level, should the number of stations operated by licensees be taken into consideration, should the Commission change how it defines revenues to calculate basic CCD contributions, should the Commission require a higher tangible benefit contribution than the minimum of 6% of the value of a transaction, should broadcasters be provided greater flexibility with respect to certain requirements, is the way contributions are allocated in each component appropriate, should the Commission remove the option of allocating a portion of contributions to discretionary initiatives, are the eligibility criteria for discretionary initiatives still relevant?;
•The Commission also suggests requiring every licensee to submit to the Commission an annual report on its discretionary CCD spending, which would include the following performance indicators and would be made publicly available:
the number of music and spoken word artists supported;
•the percentage of discretionary funds distributed by music genre or spoken word;
•the percentage of total discretionary funds allocated to performance fees paid to artists;
•the number of audience attendees at events;•the number of shows or tours developed for music and spoken word artists;
•the number of new music and spoken word recordings supported;
•the percentage of discretionary funds spent on marketing or promotion expenditures;
•the number of English-language music and spoken word artists supported;
•the number of French-language music and spoken word artists supported; and
•the number of Indigenous music and spoken word artists supported
ProgrammingCanadian Music, Canadian content Rules
The existing definition of Canadian music selection and the four conditions of the MAPL system, the impact of Canadian content quotas, potential elimination of music genres (content categories 2 and 3), possibility of introducing other measures for encouraging discovery and broadcast of new music formats, changing peak listening hours (6:00 am to 6:00 pm, Monday-Friday);
How commercial radio can contribute more or differently to the support and discovery of emerging Canadian artists – including imposing quotas requiring broadcast of music by emerging artists and changing existing definitions of English-and French-language emerging Canadian artists;
Hits in Bilingual Markets
The definition of a hit, and adequacy of the list of charts used to identify hits, the relevancy of the policy regarding broadcast of hits, whether French-language counterparts should receive regulatory relief if quotas are waived for English-language commercial radio stations in bilingual markets, other methods that could be considered to better support English and French-language artists;
Should specific regulations be established with respect to the number of minutes and hours of local news broadcast during a broadcast week in addition to the regulations on local programming, should content created by online audio services be considered local content, do the current regulations provide Canadians with access to varied local programming reflecting different viewpoints and relevant high-quality programming in sufficient quantity – if not, what measures could be put in place to remedy the situation, do more regulations need to be put in place to ensure spoken word content adequately reflects local culture?
In addition to the above, the Commission is open to reviewing other issues and concerns related to the commercial radio sector under its jurisdiction and authority under the Broadcasting Act. The deadline for receipt of interventions is February 1, 2021, and the deadline for receipt of replies is March 3, 2021.Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2019-397 (see also 379-2, 379-3, 379-4 and 2020-201) On November 25, 2019, the CRTC releases its notice of hearing to consider the applications by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation/Société Radio-Canada (CBC) to renew the licences for its various English- and French-language audio and audio-visual programming services.
The CBC’s services up for renewal include: French-language television stations (Vancouver, Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montréal, Québec, Rimouski, Sherbrooke, Trois‐Rivières, Saguenay/Chicoutimi, Moncton); French-language discretionary services (ICI ARTV, ICI EXPLORA, ICI RDI); French-language radio stations (ICI Première Chaîne, ICI Musique); English-language television stations (Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg, Windsor, Toronto, Ottawa, Montréal, Fredericton, Halifax, Charlottetown, St. John’s, Yellowknife); English-language discretionary services (CBC News Network, The documentary channel); and English-language radio stations (Radio One, Radio Two/CBC Music).The CBC has also proposed to increase the monthly wholesale rates for its two national news services that have mandatory distribution on digital basic: CBC News Network in French-language markets – from $0.15 to $0.20 and ICI RDI in English-language markets – from $0.10 to $0.13.
In the notice, the CRTC invites responses to a number of questions related to the CBC’s programming; establishing a regulatory approach that is consistent with the CBC’s mandate and best meets the needs of Canadians; and establishing a measurement framework that reports on the achievement of the CBC’s mandate as set out in the Broadcasting Act in order to ensure it remains transparently accountable to Canadians and to the CRTC in regard to its programming and activities.
Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2020-391
On December 4, 2020, the Commission approves applications to amend the broadcasting licences for six over-the-air television stations that form part of the Corus Group of services in order to add conditions of licence that authorize six undertakings, specifically, CHEX-DT Peterborough, CHKL-DT Kelowna, CHKL-DT-1 Penticton, CHKL-DT-2 Vernon, CIII-DT-6 Ottawa and CKWS-DT Kingston, to broadcast a multiplexed signal and seven undertakings, specifically, CHBC-DT Kelowna, CHBC-DT-1 Penticton, CHBC-DT-2 Vernon, CIII-DT-2 Bancroft, CIII-DT-27 Peterborough, CKWS-DT-1 Brighton and CKWS-DT-2 Prescott, to have their current signal broadcast as part of a multiplexed signal by one of the aforementioned six transmitters.
Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2019-397-5
On December 18, 2020, the Commission explains that on November 10, 2020 it had requested that the Corporation file additional information relating to the manner in which the production of its English- and French-language in-house programming meaningfully includes in key production roles individuals that reflect the diversity of Canadian society – which includes women, Indigenous peoples, ethnic and multicultural communities, Canadians with disabilities and Canadians who identify as LGBTQ2. On December 1, 2020, the Corporation files a reply with the Commission, which has been placed on the public record for this proceeding. In its reply, the Corporation does not provide any of the requested information regarding the key production roles held by members of the diverse Canadian population. It cites confidentiality concerns and indicated that it is not in a position to provide the data due to the voluntary nature of employee disclosure. The Commission is dissatisfied with the Corporation’s reply and intends to question the Corporation on these issues at the 11 January 2021 public hearing.
CRTC Annual Reports, 1969-1992, Supply and Services Canada, Ottawa.
Peter Grant, Broadcasting & Cable Television Handbook, Vols. 1-2, Law Society of Upper Canada, 1973.
Marc Raboy, Missed Opportunities: The Story of Canada’s Broadcasting Policy,
Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press, 1990.
Canada, Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, Our Cultural Sovereignty:
Second Century of Canadian Broadcasting, Ottawa: Queen’s Printer,
Peter Grant, Anthony Keenleyside and Grant Buchanan, 2004 Canadian
Broadcasting Regulatory Handbook, 7th Edition, McCarthy Tetrault,
Supreme Court of Canada Reports
Federal Court Reports
John Hylton – July, 2007
Subsequent entries by Fraser, Chandler and Grant Buchanan