CBC and Quebecor lobby CRTC for guaranteed market access

CRTC

The call to the CRTC by individual broadcasters for guaranteed market access is becoming an industry chorus.

The CBC on Wednesday asked the CRTC to force all domestic satellite TV subscribers countrywide to have access to a local CBC or Radio-Canada signal.

“For years now, CBC/Radio-Canada has been working to establish strong regional roots and provide Canadians with programming that reflects their local communities and helps protect regional cultural identities under threat in the current media environment. The rules as they stand today are undermining our efforts,” Steven Guiton, vice president and chief regulatory officer at the CBC, argued in a submission to the regulator.

The public broadcaster said satellite TV subscribers comprise a third of Canadian TV viewers.

And yet, satellite service Bell TV carries only nine of 14 CBC stations and eight of 13 Radio-Canada stations, while rival satellite service Shaw Direct carries only 10 of 14 CBC stations and six of 13 of Radio-Canada stations.

The result is rural Canadian TV viewers too often must get their news and programming from a distant market like Toronto or Montreal, rather than receive access to a local market signal.

The CRTC has asked for public input on the satellite TV distribution until September 9.

Also Wednesday, the CRTC said Quebecor has reapplied for a broadcast license for Sun TV News, a proposed conservative all-news channel.

And the revised application includes a request for “mandatory access” for the news channel after the CRTC in July denied a rebranded Sun TV over-the-air TV station in Toronto mandatory carriage on domestic cable and satellite TV schedules.

In its application, Quebecor said being denied a must-offer designation, as opposed to a must-carry status, would knock Sun TV News out of business after it launches on January 1, 2011, pending regulatory approval.

“If mandatory access for a maximum period of three years is not granted to Sun TV News, one or more major cable or satellite providers might decide to not offer this service… and would likely result in the cancellation of the Sun TV News project,” the application stated.

The CRTC is to hold hearings on November 19 to consider the broadcast license application for Sun TV News.

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