CRTC to consider fees for local
Politics Watch ® News Services
November 5, 2007, updated 3:30 p.m.
|Getting a pair of rabbit ears for your TV
could one day be the only way to get local television for
OTTAWA (PoliticsWatch.com) — The
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission said
Monday it will examine the introduction of a controversial proposal
that would see cable and satellite television bills increase.
The CRTC will examine the so-called fee-for-carriage
issue next year, something private broadcasters have been
Fee-for-carriage would require cable and satellite companies to
charge a subscription fee to customers who receive local
over-the-air television stations as part of their packages.
Currently, Canadians do not pay for local television stations,
whether it be by antenna or on their local cable package.
CRTC Chairman Konrad von Finckenstein made the announcement
during a speech to a Canadian Association of Broadcasters conference
"One of the things we've noted is a repeated call for the
introduction of a subscriber fee for the carriage of local
conventional TV stations," he said.
"The (over-the-air) sector has been a mainstay of the Canadian
broadcasting system, but there is no mistaking the fact that it now
faces significant challenges."
Private broadcasters and the CBC are all in favour of
charging the cable companies subscription fees to carry their local
The cable and satellite companies are opposed to such a measure,
including cable mogul Ted Rogers, who called the idea
"trash" at a recent CRTC hearing.
A recent submission to the CRTC by CanWest suggested a 50
cent monthly fee for each cable or satellite subscriber for
every over-the-air station.
CanWest has estimated the average monthly bill would rise $1.89 a
month, but Rogers Communications estimates it could be as
much as $7 a month more.
The CRTC will hold public hearings on the issue in April.
Von Finckenstein also updated the status of the CRTC's "New
Media Initiative," which is examining the regulatory issues
surrounding content and access raised by the arrival of new
technologies, such as the Internet.
The initial research phase, involving consumer analysis and
consultations with academic experts and industry stakeholders, is
completed and the CRTC is now in the "validation phase"
and will hold public hearings.
The CRTC first looked at the new media in 1999 and determined that
it offered little competition to traditional broadcasters. However,
with more and more advertising dollars moving to the new media that
determination has changed, he said.
Von Finckenstein also tried to clear up what he called a
"misunderstanding" about the study and whether it could
lead to regulating the Internet.
"I'm not talking about the Internet. I'm not interested in the
Internet," he said.
"What I'm talking about is broadcasting . . . We are interested
in broadcasting and what is the impact of new media on
The CRTC plans to issue a report on the new media in March of 2008.
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