Broadcaster

Equal, but different

10/14/2003

OTTAWA - The Canadian Association of Broadcasters and the Canadian Cable Television Association each want the rules for direct-to-home satellite carriage and cable carriage of specialty services to be the same - but have asked the Commission for two divergent approaches to reaching that equality.

When the first DTH licenses were signed seven years ago, relaxed linkage and distribution rules were applied to them so that they would be able to gain a foothold in the TV distribution market.

Together with 2.2 million customers (Bell ExpressVu [1.4 million] and Star Choice [800,000]), their feet have taken hold, so the rules should be the same.

However, while the CCTA is arguing that the relaxed linkage and distribution rules which DTH operates under should be applied to cable companies, the CAB instead wants the Commission to apply the more stringent cable rules to the two DTH companies.

"The CAB recommends that the Commission update its regulatory framework for DTH distribution undertakings by requiring them to adhere to the same distribution and linkage requirements as apply to Class 1 cable undertakings. In practice, this means that DTH undertakings would now be required to distribute Canadian analog specialty services in accordance with their dual status and modified dual status designations, as appropriate," says the CAB specialty and pay board's submission.

However, "if DTH does not have to offer dual or modified dual status services on basic, then the same flexibility should be available to other distributors," reads the CCTA's submission.

ExpressVu and Star Choice enjoy the status quo. And, ExpressVu has gone a step further, asking for more carriage flexibility so that it can offer any and all radio signals (be it U.S. or Canadian) it can pick up and chooses to add and offer to all of its customers.

The CCTA has asked that if such a provision is approved, that it include cable companies as well.

During the hearings beginning on October 20th, we'll hear both sides. Commissioners will decide which side wins.

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