CRTC extends broadcaster group licences for two years

The raft of administrative renewals include Bell Media, Corus Entertainment, Rogers Sports & Media and TVA Group, as well as a number of independently-owned channels.

The broadcast licences for Bell Media, Corus Entertainment, Rogers Sports & Media and TVA Group’s English and French-language channels have been extended for another two years as part of a raft of administrative renewals by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

The decision, issued Monday (July 4), has shifted the expiration date of the respective licences from the end of next month to Aug. 31, 2024. It covers dozens of conventional and specialty channels across the four broadcasters.

The Commission has also issued one-year administrative renewals for a number of independently-owned English and French-language channels, including TFO, New Tang Dynasty Television, Telelatino, ELLE Fictions and MAX. The licences are now set to expire on Aug. 31, 2023.

Last week the CRTC renewed the Asian Television Network’s (ATN) broadcast licence for the third-language channel South Asian Television (SATV) for five years, keeping its Canadian programming expenditure (CPE) requirement at 15%. The agreement includes CPE credit incentives to commission content from Indigenous and official language minority community producers.

The Commission denied requests from ATN to benefit from SATV’s access rights from the former ethnic Category A services, which were eliminated as part of the Let’s Talk TV decisions in 2015, as well as exemptions around accessibility for viewers.

Both SATV and Vancouver-based indie channel OUTtv received administrative renewals in 2020 and 2021, with a decision from the CRTC on OUTtv’s broadcast licence still to come. The licence is currently set to expire on Aug. 31.

The 2017 group licence renewals for Canada’s major public broadcasters stirred an industry uproar over the CRTC’s decision on programs of national interest (PNI) requirements, initially reducing them to 5% of a broadcaster’s annual gross. Canadian Heritage, under then-Minister of Canadian Heritage Mélanie Joly, called for the CRTC to re-evaluate the decision, with the Commission later issuing revisions to the licence agreements in 2018 to change Bell Media and Corus’s PNI requirements to 7.5% and 8.5.%, respectively, while Rogers remained at 5%.

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