Taking stock of all the talk

April 15, 2015, Ottawa

A synopsis of the CRTC decisions flowing from Let’s Talk TV

In October 2013, the CRTC initiated Let’s Talk TV, a discussion about the future of Canada’s television system. CBC/Radio-Canada attended the public hearing in September 2014 and submitted comments and a proposal for changes to the regulatory regime for television services in Canada.

In November 2014, the CRTC began releasing a series of decisions as a result of Let’s Talk TV, the last of which was announced on March 26, 2015. Below is a summary of some of these decisions and how they will affect CBC/Radio-Canada.

Read the full summary for more on the CRTC’s seven Let’s Talk TV decisions and timelines for when each of the new rules come into effect.

Obligation to maintain over‐the‐air (OTA) television

The CRTC chose to maintain the requirement for conventional TV broadcasters to broadcast over-the-air for the “near to mid‐term”. It is unclear when, if ever, conventional broadcasters will be permitted to shift to a direct-feed model.

Funding for local programming

The CRTC did not address local programming funding issues, instead announced its intention to re-examine the overall state of local television in 2015–2016.

Pick-and-pay framework

The CRTC announced that all discretionary services must eventually be offered on a stand‐ alone basis and in small packages. This rule will be implemented in two stages (March and December 2016) allowing cable and satellite service providers time to adjust. Consumers also have the option of keeping their current television services.

New entry level basic service

The CRTC is requiring cable and satellite service providers to offer a small basic package costing no more than $25 per month, as an alternative to the basic services they currently offer. This basic package must include CBC Television and ICI Radio‐Canada Télé and our national news services in their respective minority language markets.

Status quo for big basic

Customers can choose to keep their existing packages, including the old basic package that includes our national news services. It is reasonable to expect that many subscribers will choose to do so, particularly once they see the cost of the individual services and packages.

Removal of genre protection

The CRTC’s decision to immediately eliminate genre protection means that our competitors will be able to offer programming similar in format and content to our specialty services, namely, documentary channel and ICI ARTV. On the other hand, our speciality services will have more flexibility for genres of programming previously reserved to other specialty services and could broadcast up to 65% foreign content (after their next licence renewal).

Removal of access rights for discretionary services

With the exception of services that benefit from a mandatory distribution order, there will be an increased reliance on market forces for the distribution of discretionary services. This means that at their licence renewal in 2018, documentary channel and ICI ARTV (in French markets only) could be dropped by some cable and satellite providers.

Beefed up wholesale code

The CRTC is strengthening the Code of Conduct between cable and satellite providers and broadcasters to enhance the protections for independent programming services, ensuring Canada's have access to a range of independently owned channels, including all the specialty services owned by CBC/Radio-Canada. The Wholesale Code will be implemented by September 2015. Terms of trade will no longer be a condition of licence for any broadcaster.

Accessibility issues

Our conventional television services, documentary channel and ICI ARTV will be required to provide described video for programming broadcast between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. (prime time), seven days a week. This requirement will apply to programs that fall into existing program categories that have been identified for described video. This rule will come into effect September 2019. ICI Explora will be required to provide four hours of programming with described video per week by the fourth year of its next licence term.

Additional information

CBC/Radio-Canada’s submissions to the CRTC related to Let’s Talk TV

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