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CAB files against Vid�otron's proposed HD channels

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Vid�otron Lt�e
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Association News
CRTC/Regulatory - TV
HDTV/digital television
OTTAWA - Saying that Canada's HD market is just developing and pleading for patience, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters recently filed an intervention against a plan by Quebec MSO Vid�otron to launch its own high definition channels.

While empathizing with Vid�otron's desire to bring HD programming to a subscriber base which can not yet receive any Canadian digital television broadcast signals over the air, the CAB says the Quebecor-owned MSO's proposal, "raises a number of fundamental issues that, if not addressed, would in fact harm the ability of Canadian television services to continue their progress towards digital transmission and the provision of HD programming," said its intervention.

Vid�otron's proposal is to take what HD programming it can find and compile its own HD channel on a temporary basis, until Montreal's broadcasters begin to broadcast digitally. Few, if any, of the province's broadcasters, including Quebecor-owned TVA, the province's largest private broadcaster, have spoken publicly about a time frame for an HD launch in Quebec.

"The CAB submits that such 'cherry picking' of selected programs from a broadcaster's over-the-air signal for the purpose of creating an entirely new programming service is clearly inappropriate," says the CAB.

"The Commission's original DTH licensing framework of 1995 recognized that, even when considering the distribution of the complete unaltered broadcast signal of a distant television station, there had to at least be 'no objection' on the part of the originating station.

"Vid�otron's proposal goes much further inasmuch as it entails the selection and rebroadcast of individual programs from the schedules of several different stations, but it makes no provision for obtaining the consent of the originating broadcasters for the use of specific portions of their broadcast schedules."

As well, such use by Vid�otron, could impact the broadcasters' program rights in Canada. "When two separate HD programs are available from different Canadian television stations during the same time period, Vid�otron proposes to record one of the programs and rebroadcast it at a later time on its HD service. Such a practice is inconsistent with program supply contracts," says the CAB's submission.

"Furthermore, the delayed rebroadcast by Vid�otron of HD programming from Canadian conventional television stations could jeopardize the future availability of programming rights for acquired HD content broadcast by those stations. Rights holders may refuse to sell such rights to television stations who have no control over the rebroadcast of certain programs by Vid�otron."

For the full submission, go to www.cab-acr.ca.
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