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CRTC

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Living, Media Writing, Writing (all kinds) on September 22, 2011 at 3:00 AM

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CRTC takes action to ensure a wide choice of television programming
on all platforms

Today, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission
(CRTC) announced a new framework for large integrated companies that will
allow them to innovate and respond to new opportunities in a fast-changing
environment. The CRTC is also establishing measures to eliminate the
potential for these companies to harm their competitors or restrict
consumer choice.

“Given the size of the Canadian market, there are benefits to integrating
television programming and distribution services under the same corporate
umbrella,” said Konrad von Finckenstein, Q.C., Chairman of the CRTC. “At
the same time, we felt that some safeguards were needed to prevent
anti-competitive behaviour. In particular, Canadians shouldn’t be forced
to buy a mobile device from a specific company or subscribe to its
Internet service simply to access their favourite television programs.”

Following its examination of consolidation in the broadcasting industry,
the CRTC has decided to:

• Prohibit companies from offering television programs on an exclusive
basis to their mobile or Internet subscribers. Any program broadcast on
television, including hockey games and other live events, must be made
available to competitors under fair and reasonable terms.

• Allow companies to offer exclusive programming to their Internet or
mobile customers provided that it is produced specifically for an Internet
portal or a mobile device. This includes supplementary programming such as
behind-the-scenes video clips of a television program, as well as original
content.

• Adopt a code of conduct to prevent anti-competitive behaviour and ensure
all distributors, broadcasters and online programming services negotiate
in good faith. To protect Canadians from losing a television service
during negotiations, broadcasters must continue to provide the service in
question and distributors must continue to offer it to their subscribers.

• Implement measures to ensure that independent distributors and
broadcasters are treated fairly by large integrated companies. At least 25
percent of specialty services distributed by a large integrated company
must be owned by an independent broadcaster. In addition, broadcasters
launching a new pay or specialty service must make it available upon
request to all distributors as an individual service, even if a commercial
agreement has not been finalized.

Finally, the CRTC strongly encourages television distribution companies to
give Canadians more flexibility in choosing the individual services they
want as part of their packages. The CRTC has called on Bell Canada,
Quebecor Media, Rogers Communications, and Shaw Communications to submit a
report by April 1, 2012, detailing the steps they have undertaken to
respond to consumer demands.

“Canadians enjoy watching programs online as it gives them the freedom to
effectively pick and pay for what they want. They find it difficult to
accept that their cable and satellite television providers do not offer
similar choice and flexibility. If the industry fails to demonstrate that
it has made significant strides in introducing consumer-friendly options,
we will hold hearings on this issue in six months and take regulatory
action,” Mr. von Finckenstein added.

Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2011-601 http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2011/2011-601.htm

Reference documents:

News release, “CRTC launches consultation on the possible effects of
consolidation in the Canadian broadcasting system,” October 22, 2010 http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/com100/2010/r101022a.htm

Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2010-783 http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2010/2010-783.htm

– 30 –

Additional information on the CRTC’s code of conduct

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has
adopted a code of conduct to guide negotiations between broadcasters,
broadcasting distributors and new media services. Parties should make
every attempt to negotiate fair and reasonable terms for programming
rights.

When it is in the public interest, the CRTC will help resolve disputes in
a timely manner through mediation, final-offer arbitration or an expedited
hearing. The CRTC will refer to its code of conduct to determine if a
party has used its market power to engage in anti-competitive behaviour.
During this time, broadcasters and broadcasting distributors may not act
in a way that would deprive consumers of the programming or channels they
already receive.

The code of conduct sets out the following matters that should be
considered by parties as part of the negotiating process:

1. A programming service, broadcasting distributor or new media service
shall not require a party that it is contracting to accept terms or
conditions for the distribution of programming on a traditional or
ancillary platform that is commercially unreasonable, such as:
a. requiring an unreasonable rate (e.g., not based on fair market value);
b. requiring minimum penetration or revenue levels that force distribution
of a service on the basic tier or in a package that is inconsistent with
the package’s theme or price point;
c. refusing to make programming services available on a stand-alone basis
(i.e. requiring the acquisition of a program or service in order to obtain
another program or service);
d. requiring an excessive activation fee or minimum subscription
guarantee;
e. imposing, on an independent party, a most favoured nation clause or any
other condition that imposes obligations on that independent party by
virtue of a vertically integrated entity or an affiliate thereof entering
into an agreement with any vertically integrated entity or any affiliate
thereof, including its own.
2. Where applicable, negotiating a wholesale rate for a programming
service based on fair market value should take into consideration the
following factors:
a. historical rates;
b. penetration levels and volume discounts;
c. the packaging of the service;
d. rates paid by unaffiliated broadcasting distributors for a programming
service;
e. rates paid for programming services of similar value to consumers;
f. the number of subscribers that subscribe to a package in part or in
whole due to the inclusion of the programming service in that package;
g. the retail rate charged for the service on a stand-alone basis; and
h. the retail rate for any packages in which the service is included.
3. Where a broadcasting distributor includes related programming services
in themed packages, it shall include all relevant non-related programming
services in those packages.
4. An independent Category A programming service shall, unless the parties
agree otherwise, be included in the best available package consistent with
its genre and programming.
5. Where a broadcasting distributor provides its related programming
services with access to multiple distribution platforms, it shall offer
reasonable terms of access that are based on fair market value to
non-related programming services.
6. A programming service shall be given comparable marketing support by
the broadcasting distributor as is given to similar or related services.

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