TV providers to CRTC: reject bids for guaranteed spots on basic cable, satellite -

TV providers to CRTC: reject bids for guaranteed spots on basic cable, satellite


OTTAWA – Some of the country’s largest cable and satellite TV providers urged the federal telecommunications regulator on Monday to reject a number of channels that are vying for guaranteed spots on the dial.

Shaw Communications (TSX:SJR.B), Rogers Communications (TSX:RCI.B) and regional telecom MTS Allstream (TSX:MBT) are among those who oppose what is known as mandatory carriage, which would force them to include the channels on their basic cable and satellite packages.

“(Mandatory carriage) status should be reserved for services that make an exceptional contribution and serve an audience with an extraordinary need,” said Shaw executive Barbara Williams.

“Movie, news and general-interest services clearly do not satisfy the commission’s criteria as they serve a mass audience. Mandatory distribution will only serve to distort competition within these genres. Like all services, they should compete for distribution and audience share based on their appeal to Canadians.”

The providers say costs would increase if the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission forces them to add channels to their basic cable and satellite packages.

CRTC chair Jean-Pierre Blais has said the bar for being granted mandatory carriage is set “very high.” The providers argued none of the applicants meets the CRTC’s threshold to qualify for mandatory carriage.

“What these applicants are asking the commission to do is to revive a regulatory framework for the carriage of specialty services that was abandoned years ago,” said Rogers executive Phil Lind.

“Their proposals are flawed. They are indifferent to consumer demands and industry trends. They do not satisfy the stringent test for granting (mandatory carriage) orders and should be denied.”

The CRTC is holding eight days of hearings in Gatineau, Que., to examine 22 applications for mandatory carriage from new and existing channels, as well as channels that want to renew their mandatory distribution status.

Perhaps the most high-profile applicant is Sun News, the Quebecor-owned network that’s arguing for a guaranteed spot because it produces 96 hours a week of uniquely Canadian, conservative-minded content.

Mandatory carriage would generate significant revenue for the network, which is proposing that it would earn 18 cents a month from every household that subscribes to a basic cable or satellite package.

That would help offset the network’s losses, which were $17 million in 2012 — a situation that Quebecor (TSX:QBR.B) calls “clearly unsustainable.”

Sun News says the current distribution agreements are inadequate to support the channel, which is only offered in 40 per cent of Canadian households. It says such distribution challenges also hurt advertising revenues.

The channels will have an opportunity to respond at the CRTC hearings later this week.

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TV providers to CRTC: reject bids for guaranteed spots on basic cable, satellite

  1. I want Sun TV and have to watch scraps online. Why should only the sheeple networks get the mandatory carriage?

  2. Tough for Sun News. They knew the situation when starting up. They hoped it would change if more people felt they could not do without them. WRONG. Apparently they can, and very nicely too. The rules work, why fix them?

    • sun news said it wouldn’t need help from the crtc when it got its licence to broadcast cpc porn because they expected 300k idiots to pay to drool over the smut they provided..

  3. If the CRTC has to give mandatory carriage to a crackpot tabloid channel like Sun TV News, they’ll have to give it to everyone. When it comes to forcing people to pay for something they don’t want, less is more. (Of course, I’d feel better about this whole thing if the Liberals or NDP were in charge. Harper has stacked the CRTC with partisan hacks. I’ll be surprised if we don’t end up getting hosed.)

  4. the sun avg ratings is 8000 per hour doesn’t justify mandatory carriage but CPAC does because its an essential service. it lets canadians keep an eye on our politicians

  5. Sun News “…….96 hours a week of uniquely Canadian, conservative-minded content”
    or perhaps one hour repeated 96 times?

  6. the free flow of ideas doesn’t mean making sure every disingenuous crapweasal gets to howl into a microphone as long as he wants.

  7. The cable satellite companies should lead by example…. A basic fee for the mandatory channels (as few as possible) and then let customers pick and choose the specific channels that they want.