Post Tagged with: "Broadcasting"

The Mandatory Distribution Hearing: The CRTC As Last Hope for Failed Broadcast Business Models

The CRTC kicked off its two week broadcast hearing on mandatory distribution yesterday with a steady stream of proposals hoping to hit the jackpot by winning mandatory distribution (and guaranteed millions) from cable and satellite distributors. I’ve written (here and here) about why mandatory distribution should be dropped altogether, but yesterday’s hearing provided the best evidence yet. CRTC Chair Jean-Pierre Blais started the hearing by making it clear that the Commission would establish a very high threshold – consistent with the Act – before forcing any Canadians to pay for channels they may not want. Over the course of the day, no one came close to meeting even a low threshold.

As the hearing veered from proposals backed by studies suggesting consumers weren’t interested in their product to claims that broadcaster costs were “totally retarded”, it became apparent that the mandatory distribution process is a last gasp for many failed, failing or never started broadcast proposals. The Commission heard from channels that broadcast distributors won’t carry, that advertisers won’t support, that few subscribers pay for, and that don’t have any content (user generated content was the answer for two such proposals leading one Commissioner to ask why people wouldn’t just watch YouTube). Even the Sun News Network, the headliner of the day, acknowledged that its complaints about undue preference by other distributors would not meet the legal standard, that it is already available to 70% of cable subscribers, and that Videotron, which shares the same parent company, has not placed the channel on basic service, even though it is seeking an order from the CRTC requiring everyone else to do so.  

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April 23, 2013 10 comments News

The Canadian Public’s Effect on the CRTC Ruling on Whether BCE could Buy Astral

I appeared on CBC News to discuss how Canadians are taking back the CRTC and our communications system. The CRTC, for the first time ever, included questions submitted by members of the public in the hearing. My interview can be found on Youtube or on CBC’s website for better quality.

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October 1, 2012 Comments are Disabled News Interviews, Tv / Radio

Isn’t There a Better Way to Spend $750 Million?

As is the case with all mergers involving Canadian broadcast companies, the proposed Bell Media purchase of television and radio giant Astral immediately generated interest in the Canadian television production community, who anticipated yet another huge payday that follows from each of these deals. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, which must approve the transaction, requires purchasers to “make clear and unequivocal commitments to provide tangible benefits representing 10 percent of the value of a transaction” (the percentage for television assets is typically 10 percent and 6 percent for radio assets).

Given the rapid pace of consolidation in the Canadian broadcasting industry, the size of these tangible benefits packages, which often provide funding for new Canadian productions, has grown dramatically in recent years. In 2007, Astral’s purchase of Standard Radio led to a $12 million benefits package, Rogers acquisition of five CITY-TV stations resulted in a $37.5 million benefits package, and CTVglobemedia’s purchase of CHUM netted over $100 million. In 2010, Shaw’s purchase of Canwest Global generated a $180 million benefits package. The Bell purchase of CTVglobemedia in 2011 topped that with a $239 million benefits package and now the Bell Media – Astral deal could be even bigger.

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May 11, 2012 6 comments Columns

Supreme Court of Canada Rules ISPs Are Not Broadcasters

The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that Internet providers are not broadcasters for the purposes of the Broadcasting Act when they simply transmit content to subscribers.  The court noted “when providing access to the Internet, which is the only function of ISPs placed in issue by the reference question, […]

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February 10, 2012 4 comments News

Supreme Court Grants Leave To Copyright, Broadcasting Cases

The Supreme Court of Canada yesterday granted leave to appeal in two notable cases – an appeal of the Federal Court of Appeal’s decision that ISPs are not broadcasters under the Broadcasting Act (I wrote about that decision here) and the never ending saga of Tariff 22, which involves tariffs […]

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March 25, 2011 4 comments News