CRTC sets date for public hearing on multi-ethnic TV

The commission will look at eight proposals for channels that could potentially replace Rogers' OMNI Regional.
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The CRTC is asking for input from the public on the future of multi-lingual and multi-ethnic TV services in Canada.

The commission on Tuesday (April 17) published eight proposals from broadcasters including Rogers Media, Bell Media and Telelatino Network for a service that could potentially replace Rogers’ OMNI Regional as the multi-ethnic channel that receives mandatory distribution across Canada.

In May 2017, the commission approved the licensing and mandatory distribution of OMNI Regional on all digital basic TV packages on an interim, three-year basis. At the same time, the CRTC also initiated a public process to find a longer-term provider, with the chosen channel to receive mandatory carriage from 2020.

As announced by the commission on Tuesday, a public hearing is set to begin on Oct. 15 to evaluate the applications.

Under the CRTC’s current mandate, the multi-ethnic service that receives mandatory distribution must safeguard, enrich and strengthen the cultural, political, social and economic fabric of Canada; be drawn from local, regional, national and international sources; and reflect and contribute to Canada’s linguistic duality and ethno-cultural diversity, including the special place of Aboriginal peoples in Canadian society.

In its application (for a licence term beginning in 220), Rogers Media proposed a monthly, per-subscriber wholesale rate of 19 cents in years one and two, increasing to 20 cents in years three and four, and then rising to 21 cents in year five. Under the current rules, the CRTC imposes a monthly levy of 12 cents from all Canadian cable TV subscribers for OMNI Regional.

The media co also proposed to devote 80% of its schedule to ethnic programming and a minimum of 50% to third-language programming; to broadcast six daily, national 30-minute news programs in a third language; a Canadian programming exhibition level of at least 55% of the total programming broadcast between 6 a.m. and midnight and at least 50% of the total programming broadcast between 6 p.m. and midnight; and Canadian programming expenditure levels of 50%, and a programs of national interest (PNI) expenditure level of 5%.

Meanwhile, Bell Media proposed a per-subscriber monthly wholesale rate of 25 cents for all five years of a proposed term. Under Bell Media’s application, the company stated that its service would devote 100% of its schedule to ethnic programming and a minimum of 50% to third-language programming; set Canadian programming exhibition levels of 70% of the total programming broadcast between both 6 a.m. and midnight and 6 p.m. and midnight; set the Canadian programming expenditure level at 60% and programs of national interest (PNI) expenditure level at 5%.

Other proposals were submitted by Ethnic Channels Group Limited, Independent Community Television Montreal, Amber Broadcasting Inc. and M.T.E.C. Consultants Limited.

The hearing process is open for public comment until May 17, 2018.

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