CRTC denies Rogers plan to simsub Citytv into Maritimes
October 10, 2012
OTTAWA - Rogers Communications bid to extend Citytv into the Maritimes through simultaneous substitution of the broadcast feeds from bordering U.S. stations has been denied by the CRTC.
Bell Media, the CBC and several individuals argued that the proposal does not adhere to the simultaneous substitution policy, which grants simultaneous substitution privileges to only local and regional stations. The group also contended approval of the application would grant Rogers the benefits of having a local station in Atlantic Canada without investments in service to the region. The CBC added that Rogers had not substantiated its claim that there would be no impact on the revenues of incumbent broadcasters in Atlantic Canada.
In its application Rogers argued that the performance of simultaneous substitution would constitute an appropriate compensation on the part of the BDU for the retransmission of Citytv as a distant signal.
Rogers also maintained that the proposal would not constitute an exception to the simultaneous substitution policy and that it would be similar to the practice currently in place for direct-to-home (DTH) undertakings, which allows them to distribute non-Canadian signals with substituted programming from distant signals.
It responded that it was not seeking the benefits of a local station without the investments because it was not seeking to air local advertising. Rogers explained the reason it had decided not to establish a local station in the Atlantic region is to avoid disrupting existing over-the-air (OTA) services in the region.
The commission noted that simultaneous substitution privileges are currently reserved for local and regional stations and that broadcasters must operate an OTA transmitter in a given market in order to benefit from regulatory protections there, such as simultaneous substitution.
It conceded that the regulator has authorized certain broadcasters to extend their local signals into regional markets by adding new transmitters in order to maximize simultaneous substitution opportunities. But added that the regulator has not permitted simultaneous substitution for signals that are not available over- the-air. In addition, the Commission voiced concerns that permitting simultaneous substitution of distant signals over U.S. services might encourage existing conventional television broadcasters to close local stations or significantly reduce spending in local markets.
The Commission ruled it was in agreement with the CBC that Rogers has not “provided any economic evidence that would demonstrate that approval of the application would not have a negative impact on existing stations serving Atlantic Canada.”
It further concluded that its DTH comparison regarding simultaneous was not relevant to its application since those exceptions are due to “significant technological difference in the substitution of signals.”