To: The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)
Friends of Canadian Broadcasting
intervened with respect to Broadcasting
Notice of Consultation 2009-732. The Commission's criteria for mandatory
carriage as expressed in Broadcasting
Regulatory Policy 2010-629 are largely consistent with our recommendations.
In our view, however, the positive aspects of the decision are heavily
compromised by the two-year moratorium on the consideration of any
As the Commission is aware, preparing
applications takes significant time, effort, and money. This is especially true for 9(1)(h) or
Category 1 applications, which must be accompanied by market studies that
substantiate the value of, and/or the demand for the proposed service. While
the Commission does not release details of applications that it has received
until they are gazetted, several companies with pending applications have come
forward since the release of this decision to voice concerns about the impact
of a two-year moratorium on their respective businesses.
We are concerned about the fact that
many of the existing 9(1)(h) applications have been filed by some of the
smaller independent companies in the Canadian broadcasting system-and this, at
a time when the Commission is considering the sale of Canwest Global to Shaw
and CTV to Bell. If and when
approved, these transactions will result in a situation where both private
English over-the- air networks, the largest private French-language network,
and many of the largest and most profitable specialty channels will all be
owned by BDUs, and therefore guaranteed favoured access to carriage.
Indeed, carriage is a critical
component to the success of any channel.
The reason that the smaller independent companies often apply for
mandatory carriage is-as the Commission heard repeatedly during the BDU hearing-that
they do not otherwise have the business "clout" to secure carriage on their
A review of the BDU submissions to this
consultation confirms that a two-year moratorium on new 9(1)(h) applications
would have no negative consequences for the BDUs, nor to the broadcasting
companies that they may soon control.
However, it will be highly prejudicial to the smaller, independent
members of our broadcasting system.
We urge the Commission to consider this fact.
This inequity between the independent
sector and the BDU-owned broadcasting world is underscored by the close
proximity of this decision to the announcement that the Commission will hear
the Sun TV News application for a Category 2 licence-by a BDU-owned company, with
the proposed benefits and privileges, but not the obligations-of a Category 1
Friends notes that there would appear
to be no such moratorium on Category 2 applications, nor, for that matter, on
new foreign services, all capable of taking up valuable capacity during the
critical transition of over-the-air services and specialty channels to
Friends urges the Commission to
reconsider its position with respect to a two-year moratorium and to provide
fair and timely access to due process with regard to 9(1)(h) applications-both
those already filed, and for all interested applicants. Existing applicants should also be granted the opportunity
to modify their submissions, as the Commission has proposed.
The public interest requires that all
applicants receive a fair, equitable and timely opportunity to demonstrate
whether or not they meet the new criteria set out in CRTC 2010-629.
Friends of Canadian Broadcasting