The CRTC kicks off two weeks of hearings next week that place the spotlight on the fee-for-carriage fight. Last night, I participated in an interesting debate on the issue on TVO's The Agenda called A Pox On Both Their Houses: Cable and TV. The program is embedded below. One issue that was not raised – indeed it has not received any real public attention – was noted earlier today by Alan Sawyer. He notes that CTV and Canwest have quietly asked the CRTC to order cable and satellite companies to establish a new policy of "program deletion." The new policy (which is supported in a Toronto Star piece today) would mean that when a Canadian broadcaster buys the Canadian rights to a U.S. program, the U.S. broadcast would be blocked in Canada for a seven-day window.
In other words, rather than the current simultaneous substitution policy, which allows for the programs to air at the same time and for the substitution of the Canadian broadcast on the U.S. channel (thereby leading to the annual complaints about Super Bowl commercials), the U.S. broadcast would be blocked altogether. That would allow Canadian broadcasters to air the U.S. program whenever they like and block the U.S. version altogether. In a world when consumers expect to view programs on their schedule, CTV and Canwest seek a return to a prior era when the broadcaster retains (now illusory) control over access to the broadcasts in Canada.