CRTC calls out OWN and G4techTV

The CRTC will hold a hearing on Dec. 11 to allow Corus-owned OWN Canada and Rogers Media’s G4techTV to answer to the charge that they have not been in compliance with their broadcast licence mandates.

According to the regulator, specialty channels OWN Canada and G4techTV have not followed their original service definitions under respective licence conditions.

The CRTC said OWN Canada has not provided the basic adult educational programming required by its nature of service definition, including 55% of daytime programming drawn from the formal education and pre-school category.

OWN Canada was originally approved as Canadian Learning Television, a national English-language specialty service that would provide formal and information educational programming focused on adult education, including basic, credit-based and skills-related programs, some undertaken in cooperation with academic and training institutions.

In 2008, CLT was rebranded as VIVA, a female-skewing entertainment channel focusing on films, TV dramas and lifestyle programming, and that was followed by the rebranding as OWN.

The CRTC renewed OWN’s broadcasting licence, maintaining its original service definition and conditions as laid out for CLT.

“The Commission is of the view that by linking television programming to such a narrow range of classes, the licensee did not adhere to OWN’s nature of service definition and acted in such a way as to avoid its regulatory obligations,” the regulator said in a notice of consultation, noting that the majority of the programming is associated with TV, media or culture studies classes.

OWN Canada’s website lists educational institutions like Athabasca University, Mount Royal University, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, Ryerson University, Professional Organizers in Canada and Mohawk College as organizations for which OWN shows are accredited.

The regulator also on Friday said that Rogers Media’s G4techTV’s programming is not complying with its nature of service definition.

The channel was originally given a licence condition, as techTV Canada in 2000, to provide programming exclusively related to computing, technology and the internet.

In later amendment requests, the regulator approved requests from the channel to add game shows and drama and comedy (both series and theatrical films) to its programming, provided that it stayed within determined weekly limits of each.

Following these changes, the CRTC said that G4techTV’s offerings have decreased programming diversity, making it more competitive with other services and are not within its service definition.

More recently, the regulator denied G4techTV’s request to redesignate its licence as a Category B service, saying it would have to apply for a new broadcasting licence because the re-designation would change “fundamental aspects” of the existing licence.

“While the Commission was prepared to process an application for G4techTV to be operated as a specialty Category B service as a means of resolving the licensee’s non-compliance, the licensee has demonstrated an unwillingness to proceed in such a manner,” the CRTC said Friday.

The CRTC will hold a public hearing starting Dec. 11, for which OWN Canada and G4techTV are ordered to show why their licences should not be suspended or revoked.