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CRTC Sets New Rules for Broadcasters That Own Both Programming and Distribution

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The CRTC has set out some new rules for broadcasters that own both programming and distribution, also known as vertical integration. The new rules were established to prevent anticompetitive behaviour. Such examples include companies refusing to sell mobile rights to a TV show to other companies at fair rates.

Such vertically integrated broadcasters include:

Shaw Communications, which controls Canwest Global Communications Corp.
Quebecor Media Inc., which controls TVA.
Rogers Media Inc., which controls Citytv.
BCE Inc., which is trying to acquire sole control of CTVglobemedia.

CRTC chairman, Konrad von Finckenstein:

“Canadians shouldn’t be forced to buy a mobile device from a specific company or subscribe to its internet service simply to access their favourite television programs…

…Given the size of the Canadian market, there are benefits to integrating television programming and distribution services under the same corporate umbrella…At the same time, we felt that some safeguards were needed to prevent anti-competitive behaviour.”

The CRTC also asked Bell, Quebecor, Rogers, and Shaw to give Canadians ‘more flexibility’ to choose the channels they want in their TV packages.

This is good news for consumers as it ensures content to be streamed to mobile devices cannot be held exclusively by vertically integrated companies. They must charge fair rates to others looking to acquire rights to the content for their own streaming.

We haven’t fully adopted streaming TV to our smartphones yet (the continued expansion of 4G networks will surely help), but when it becomes mainstream these rules ensure all carriers will have access to content at a fair price.

[via CBC]

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  • Hopefully this means better and faster distribution of channels to other cable companies as well. For example, Space is owned by Bell… which probably explains why Rogers doesn’t have Space HD. Rogers may -eventually- get it, but clearly Bell isn’t in a hurry.

    What still confuses me, however, is how different regions have fewer channels over digital cable. Compared to Ontario, Atlantic Canadian Rogers customers have far fewer HD channels. What’s the hold-up? It’s not like you have to work out licensing rights for different parts of the same country.

  • Sean

    Actually Space is owned by CTV Globemedia, of which Bell is a subsidiary. Semantics, I know.

    Atlantic Canada has fewer HD channels because the infrastructure simply isn’t there. Rogers hasn’t spent the money to upgrade either TV or cellular towers, therefore: small pipe = fewer signals.

    That’s why it’s easy to cancel a Rogers cell phone contract if you live outside the Halifax area, without paying the ECF.

  • N Hooper

    I am still waiting for the day when this anti competition, anti consumer, useless government department is shut down!

  • KoiRoy

    Is this really the CRTC we have all loved to hate? Huh, go figure!

  • Haha, they can do good too!

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