October 31, 2008

CCSA Applauds CRTC’s New Broadcasting Distribution Framework

The CRTC's new policy framework for broadcasting distributors and pay and specialty television services, released yesterday, earned the resounding approval of the Canadian Cable Systems Alliance (CCSA), a group that speaks on behalf of independent cable television companies across Canada. "We had feared that this proceeding had been overtaken by conventional television's renewed demands for new carriage fees," said Chris Edwards, the CCSA's regulatory Vice-President, "but, in the end, the CRTC grounded its decisions very solidly on first principles and the overarching objectives of the Broadcasting Act. That approach has resulted in a balanced, flexible policy framework well-suited to completion of Canada's digital transition and to the introduction of the new digital services that Canadian consumers are now demanding."

The CCSA was especially encouraged by initiatives within the framework designed to assist smaller cable companies with roll-out of new digital services to their customers in Canada's small-town, rural and remote areas.

Those initiatives include an expanded and simplified exemption from regulatory restrictions for distributors who serve less than 20,000 customers and relief, for those same distributors, from the requirement to obtain consent to distribute out-of-market off-air television signals. In addition, by requiring program suppliers to cover the cost of transporting both standard and high definition television signals to the cable companies' facilities, the new framework also solves a serious problem that smaller, more remote cable companies had in obtaining access to new high-definition channels. That means that consumers in Canada's smaller communities should begin to have access to cable offerings of the same high definition services that their urban counterparts already enjoy.

"It is clear to us that, throughout this massive public proceeding, the CRTC paid very close attention to our submissions on behalf of small distributors and their customers," said Mr. Edwards. "We appreciate having our voice heard. The result is a policy framework that, consistent with the language of the Act, affirms that the broadcasting system must operate to the benefit of all Canadians, not just those in the urban centres, and that provides many of the tools necessary to make sure that actually happens. That's the right result and Canadian consumers in all markets should be pleased."

 Contacts: Canadian Cable Systems Alliance Inc. Alyson Townsend President & C.E.O. (506) 849-1334, ext. 203 Email: [email protected]  Canadian Cable Systems Alliance Inc. Chris Edwards V.P. Corp. & Regulatory (506) 849-1334, ext. 211 Email: [email protected]  Harris Boyd Regulatory Consultant (613) 421-3597 Email: [email protected]

SOURCE: Canadian Cable Systems Alliance Inc.