Canada regulator rejects broadcaster fee request

Thu Oct 30, 2008 4:50pm EDT
 
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main broadcasting regulator released a new set of rules for the television industry on Thursday, but turned down a request by conventional TV broadcasters to charge cable and satellite companies a fee for their signals.

"In reviewing the rules that affect conventional television broadcasters, the commission has decided to deny the request for a subscriber fee for the carriage of local conventional television stations," the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission said in a statement.

Over-the-air broadcasters such as the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., CTVglobemedia and Canwest Global Communications had argued they deserved some of the subscriber fees charged by cable and satellite companies. They say it would help offset a drop in advertising revenues they have suffered as a result of the rise of cable, satellite and specialty TV channels.

On the other hand, cable companies like Shaw Communications and Rogers Communications have said such fees would lead to higher bills for their subscribers, since the added cost would be passed on to consumers.

The CRTC announced a number of other initiatives on Thursday that will alter Canada's TV industry, including the elimination of most rules regarding how channels are packaged on cable and satellite systems.

It also said it will explore how new forms of digital and interactive advertising could benefit the broadcasting system.

As well, it said it will let conventional broadcasters negotiate payments for the retransmissions of their signals to other provinces.

"These measures will contribute to a more dynamic broadcasting system, which will be in a better position to respond to the opportunities and challenges presented by new media," CRTC Chairman Konrad von Finckenstein said in a statement.

(Reporting by Wojtek Dabrowski; editing by Rob Wilson)