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ARCHIVED -  Decision CRTC 96-604

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Decision

Ottawa, 4 September 1996
Decision CRTC 96-604
The Partners of Prime TV
Across Canada - 199600503
Prime TV - Approved
Following a Public Hearing held in the National Capital Region beginning on 6 May 1996, the Commission, by majority vote, approves the application by the Partners of Prime TV (the licensee) for a broadcasting licence to carry on a national English-language programming undertaking (Specialty Television Service). The new service will be known as Prime TV.
This service will be available via satellite to all broadcasting distribution undertakings across the country. In the case of those distribution undertakings that are subject to the Commission's distribution and linkage requirements, it will be available on a modified dual status basis, as explained in Public Notice CRTC 1996-120, which introduces this and other decisions released today, and in accordance with the provisions set out in the distribution and linkage public notice also issued today (Public Notice CRTC 1996-121). As proposed by the licensee, and by condition of licence, the authorized maximum monthly wholesale rate shall be $0.25 per subscriber, in cases where Prime TV is distributed as part of the basic service.
The Commission will issue a licence expiring 31 August 2003, subject to the conditions specified in the appendix to this decision and in the licence to be issued.
In Public Notice CRTC 1996-120, the Commission outlined a licensing approach that grouped English-language services into two categories. The Access Rules will apply to the second group of services, to which Prime TV belongs, at the earliest of the following: the deployment of digital technology by the distributor, or 1 September 1999. The service of this programming undertaking must, by condition of licence, be in operation within 36 months of the date of this decision unless the service provider, prior to the expiry of this period, applies for and receives an extension of time within which to commence operations.
Ownership
The licensees are Tthe pPartners of Prime TV, a general partnership between Global Communications Limited (GCL) and Canvideo Television Sales (1983) Limited (CTSL). Both GCL and CTSL are controlled by Global Ventures Western Ltd., which is in turn controlled by CanWest Global Communications Corp. (CanWest). CanWest is a public company which is ultimately controlled by Mr. I. H. Asper of Winnipeg, Manitoba. CanWest currently controls television programming undertakings in Toronto, Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Vancouver and Halifax.
Programming
Nature of Service
Prime TV will be a specialty service directed towards men and women 50 years of age and over. During a 24-hour broadcast day, the programs will reflect a wide range of opinions, attitudes, values and ideas. The program schedule will be built upon a core of an average of eight hours of original programming each day from Monday through Sunday, replayed twice in each twenty-four hour day. The licensee expects to broadcast a total of 20 hours weekly of original Canadian productions.
The programming will be a mix of new information programs of relevance to the target audience, combined with entertainment programs from the past. Virtually all of the information programs will be Canadian, while most of the entertainment programs will be from non-Canadian sources. The information programs will include topics such as fashion, travel, fitness tips, pets and financial management. The licensee also made a commitment that Prime TV will not broadcast any live sports event.
Conditions of licence related to the target audience, the specific categories of programming to be broadcast and the age of dramatic programs and feature films to be broadcast are set out in the appendix to this decision.
Canadian Content
The licensee's programming plans call for a level of 50% Canadian content per day, based on a 24-hour day, and 50% in prime time. The licensee shall adhere to these commitments by condition of licence, as set out in the appendix to this decision.
Canadian Programming Expenditures
Consistent with the approach outlined by the Commission in Public Notice CRTC 1996-120 with respect to requirements for Canadian programming expenditures, and as discussed with the licensee at the hearing, it is a condition of licence that Prime TV shall expend on Canadian programs, in the broadcast year following the first year of operation, and in each subsequent broadcast year, a minimum of 40% of the previous year's gross revenues derived from the operation of the service. Some flexibility in the accounting of these expenditures is provided for in the conditions of licence attached to this decision.
The Commission notes that 65% of Prime TV's Canadian program expenditures will be devoted to co-productions and also notes the licensee's statement that it expects to spend approximately $3 million over the licence term on these co-productions, at least 50% of which will be with independent producers. Prime TV expects these co-productions to be arms-length partnerships, where all copyrights will remain with the producers.
The Commission also notes the licensee's plans to provide more than $5 million, exclusively to independent program producers, through equity investments during the last three years of the licence term.
Advertising
Consistent with the licensee's commitments, it is a condition of licence that all paid advertising material distributed on Prime TV shall be national advertising, and shall be restricted to 12 minutes per hour, with some flexibility for the placement of advertising material in longer programs.
Other Matters
Employment Equity
In Public Notice CRTC 1992-59 dated 1 September 1992 and entitled "Implementation of an Employment Equity Policy", the Commission announced that the employment equity practices of broadcasters would be subject to examination by the Commission. The licensee indicated that it was in the process of developing a policy in this regard. The Commission expects the licensee to complete and implement a plan in this regard by the time the services begins operation. The Commission encourages the licensee to consider equity issues in its hiring practices and in all other aspects of its management of human resources. In particular, the Commission encourages the licensee to promote equitable representation in on-air staff positions and in voice-overs of station-produced commercial messages. The Commission will review the licensee's performance in implementing its Eemployment Eequity practices at the time of licence renewal.
Closed Captioning
Consistent with its policy approach for closed captioning announced in Public Notice CRTC 1996-120, the Commission requires the licensee to close caption not less than 90% of all programming during the broadcast day, by the end of the licence term.
Conclusion
The Commission is satisfied that Prime TV will bring added diversity to the Canadian broadcasting system through its service targeted to the currently underserved demographic of persons 50 years of age and over. In this regard, the Commission notes the strong support for the licensing of this service from a large number of individuals and associations serving mature Canadians. The licensee's plans for programming of particular interest to this age group will benefit both the intended audience and the Canadian independent production sector.
The Commission acknowledges and has considered the interventions submitted with respect to this application.
This decision is to be appended to the licence.
Allan J. Darling
Secretary General
APPENDIX
Conditions of licence for Prime TV
1. (a) The licensee shall provide a national, English-language specialty service consisting of programs of particular interest to adults over 50 years of age. The licensee shall draw its programs exclusively from Category 1 (News), Category 2 (Analysis and Interpretation), Category 5b (Education, informal), Category 6 (Sports), Category 7 (Drama), Category 8 (Music and Dance), Category 9 (Variety), Category 10 (Game Shows) and Category 11 (Human Interest), as set out in item 6 of Schedule I 1 of the Specialty Services Regulations, 1990
(b) The television series in category 7 (Drama) (a,b,c,f) broadcast by the licensee shall have been copyrighted at least ten years prior to the broadcast year in which they are aired by the service.
(c) The feature films in category 7d broadcast by the licensee shall have been copyrighted at least 25 years prior to the broadcast year in which they are aired by the service.
(d) The licensee shall not broadcast any live sports event.
2. The licensee shall devote to the distribution of Canadian programs not less than 50% of the broadcast day averaged over the broadcast year, and not less than 50% of the evening broadcast period.
3. In accordance with the Commission's position on Canadian programming expenditures as set out in Public Notices CRTC 1992-28, 1993-93 and 1993-174:
(a) In the broadcast year following the first year of operation, and in each subsequent broadcast year , the licensee shall expend on Canadian programs not less than 40% of the previous broadcast year's gross revenues derived from the operation of this service.
(b) In the broadcast year following the first year of operation, and in each subsequent broadcast year, excluding the final year, the licensee may expend an amount on Canadian programs that is up to five percent (5%) less than the minimum required expenditure for that year calculated in accordance with this condition; in such case, the licensee shall expend in the next broadcast year of the licence term, in addition to the minimum required expenditure for that year, the full amount of the previous broadcast year's underexpenditure.
(c) In the broadcast year following the first year of operation, and in each subsequent broadcast year where the licensee expends an amount on Canadian programs that is greater than the  minimum required expenditure for that year calculated in accordance with this condition, the licensee may deduct:
(i) from the minimum required expenditure for the next broadcast year of the licence term, an amount not exceeding the amount of the previous broadcast year's overexpenditure; and
(ii) from the minimum required expenditure for any subsequent broadcast year of the licence term, an amount not exceeding the difference between the overexpenditure and any amount deducted under (i) above;.
(d) Notwithstanding the above, during the licence term, the licensee sshall expend on Canadian programs, at a minimum, the total of the minimum required expenditures calculated in accordance with the licensee's condition of licence.
4. (a) Subject to subsections (b) and (d), the licensee shall not distribute more than twelve (12) minutes of advertising material during each clock hour.
(b) In addition to the twelve (12) minutes of advertising material referred to in subsection (a) the licensee may distribute during each clock hour, a maximum of 30 seconds of additional advertising material that consists of unpaid public service announcements.
(c) The licensee shall not distribute any paid advertising material other than national paid advertising.
(d) Where a program occupies time in two or more consecutive clock hours, the licensee may exceed the maximum number of minutes of advertising material allowed in those clock hours if the average number of minutes of advertising material in the clock hours occupied by the program does not exceed the maximum number of minutes that would otherwise be allowed per clock hour.
5. From the date of commencement of service, the licensee shall charge each exhibitor of this service a maximum wholesale rate of $0.25 per subscriber per month, where the service is carried as part of the basic service.
6. The licensee may require access to distribution undertakings in accordance with the Access Rules contained in Public Notice CRTC 1996-60 at the earliest of the following:
a) at such time as the distribution undertaking makes use of digital technology for the delivery of programming to subscribers; or
b) 1 September 1999.
7. This undertaking shall be in operation within thirty-six (36) months of the date of this decision, or, where the licensee applies to the Commission within this period and satisfies the Commission that it cannot complete implementation before the expiry of this period and that an extension is in the public interest, within such further period of time as is approved in writing by the Commission.
8. The licensee shall adhere to the guidelines on gender portrayal set out in the Canadian Association of Broadcasters' (CAB's) "Sex-Role Portrayal Code for Television and Radio Programming", as amended from time to time and approved by the Commission.
9. The licensee shall adhere to the provisions of the CAB's "Broadcast Code for Advertising to Children", as amended from time to time and approved by the Commission.
10. The licensee shall adhere to the guidelines on the depiction of violence in television programming set out in the CAB's "Voluntary Code Regarding Violence in Television Programming", as amended from time to time and approved by the Commission.
For the purpose of these conditions of licence, the terms "broadcast year", "evening broadcast period" and "clock hour" shall have the same meaning as those set out in the Television Broadcasting Regulations, 1987; "broadcast day" shall mean the period of 24 hours beginning at 12:00 midnight; "first year of operation" shall mean the first broadcast year in which Prime TV is in operation for a period exceeding 90 days, excluding any free trial period; and "paid national advertising" shall mean advertising material as defined in the Specialty Services Regulations, 1990 and that is purchased at a national rate and receives national distribution on the service.
Dissent of Commissioner Andrée Wylie
Commissioner Andrée Wylie dissents from this and from all of the other decisions issued today in respect of applications for licences to carry on new English-language specialty television programming undertakings whose services fall within the second category, namely those to whom the Access Rules will apply at the earliest of the following: the deployment of digital technology by the distributor, or 1 September 1999. The rationale underlying the Commissioner's dissent is presented at the conclusion of Public Notice CRTC 1996-120.