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ARCHIVED -  Decision CRTC 96-609

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Decision

Ottawa, 4 September 1996
Decision CRTC 96-609
Pulse 24 Inc.
Across Canada - 199600909
Pulse 24 - Approved
Following a Public Hearing held in the National Capital Region beginning on 6 May 1996, the Commission approves, by majority vote, the application by Pulse 24 Inc. (the licensee) for a broadcasting licence to carry on a national English-language programming undertaking (Specialty Television Service) to be known as Pulse 24.
While Pulse 24 will be a regional service primarily distributed in Ontario, it will be made 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 license, and by condition of licence, the authorised maximum monthly wholesale rate shall be $0.30, for each subscriber, in cases where Pulse 24 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 Pulse 24 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.
Since Pulse 24 is a regional service, once the Access Rules do apply, they will only apply to cable distribution undertakings serving the Greater Toronto Area, Oakville, Pickering, Hamilton and Oshawa.
Ownership
Pulse 24 will be controlled by CHUM Limited (CHUM), which will hold 70.1% of the proposed licensee's voting interest. CHUM is a publicly-traded company indirectly controlled by Allan Waters of Toronto. It is the licensee of several radio and television stations across Canada as well as of the English-language specialty television services, MuchMusic and Bravo!. In addition, CHUM owns the Atlantic Satellite Network, a satellite-to-cable programming undertaking, and is co-owner of MusiquePlus, a French-language specialty television service.
Toronto Sun Publishing Corporation (TS) will hold Pulse 24's remaining 29.9% equity interest. TS is indirectly controlled by Rogers Communications Inc. (Rogers), Canada's largest cable operator.
The Commission has concerns whenever a cable company participates in the ownership of a specialty service, as reflected in the Convergence Report of 19 May 1995. As one of Pulse 24's shareholders is Rogers, the issue of preferential treatment or access is of concern. The Commission expects that Pulse 24 will not be given preferential treatment or access to distribution systems by any distributor that hold an ownerhip interest in the licensee company.
Programming
Nature of Service
The licensee will offer a 24-hour-a-day specialty television service devoted to news and information, with a focus on southern Ontario local and regional news and information. The core schedule will consist of "Newsflow", a continuous rolling, fifteen minute program wheel, composed of local, regional, national and international news, weather, traffic and sports as well as business, entertainment and consumer news. In addition to Newsflow, the licensee will offer talk shows and business programs at 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., and will rebroadcast the three daily news programs currently offered by CITY-TV Toronto at noon, during the supper hour and in the late evening. While most of the news programming presented on Pulse 24 will be Canadian, the proposed service will also broadcast local news programs from around the world in their original languages with English subtitles.
As described by the licensee and as set out as a condition of licence in the appendix to this decision, all of the programs broadcast by Pulse 24 will be drawn exclusively from the following program categories as set out in the Specialty Services Regulations, 1990: 1 (News); 2 (Analysis and interpretation); 3 (Reporting and actualities); 5(b) (Education - informal); and 6 (Sports). The licensee shall not broadcast live coverage of sporting events.
Canadian Content
Throughout the licence term, by condition of licence, the licensee will devote at least 90% of the broadcast year, and at least 90% of the evening broadcast period to the distribution of Canadian programs.
Canadian Programming Expenditures
Given that the programming on the service will be 100% Canadian, the Commission considers that it is unnecessary to impose a condition of licence in respect of minimum expenditure requirements for Canadian programs. Nevertheless, the Commission expects the licensee to devote adequate resources to its programming initiatives, as outlined in its application.
The Commission notes the licensee's commitment to spend $77,000 over the licence term on program development.
Advertising
Consistent with the licensee's commitments, it is a condition of licence that Pulse 24 distribute a maximum of 12 minutes in each clock hour of advertising material that shall consist exclusively of paid national or regional advertising.
At the hearing, the licensee defined regional advertising as that which represents "retail chains who have locations in various central market areas". Accordingly, in determining whether advertising material is regional in focus, the Commission will refer to the licensee's definition.
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. In its application, the licensee indicated that it had developed its own policy in this regard. The Commission notes the licensee's statement at the hearing that "Citytv/City pulse was the first newsroom to consciously set out to present on- and off-air staff that genuinely, naturally, reflected the community it served. It is a pleasure for us to commit that the general and on-air staff of Pulse 24 will also mirror all that human richness." The Commission encourages the licensee to implement these plans and will review the licensee's performance in implementing employment equity practices at the time of licence renewal.
Closed Captioning
In accordance with the policy announced in Public Notice CRTC 1996-120, the Commission expects the licensee to close caption not less than 90% of all programming over the broadcast day by the end of the licence term.
Conclusion
In approving this application, the Commission is satisfed that Pulse 24 will contribute to the diversity of programming available in the Canadian broadcasting system by offering a distinctly local and regional news service which will be of primary interest to viewers in the Greater Toronto area and surrounding communities.
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/ANNEXE
Conditions of licence for Pulse 24
1. (a) The licensee shall provide a regional (Ontario) English-language specialty service, and shall draw its programs exclusively from category 1 (News), category 2 (Analysis and interpretation), category 3 (Reporting and actualities), category 5(b) (Education - informal) and category 6 (Sports), as set out in item 6 of Schedule I of the Specialty Services Regulations, 1990.
(b) The licensee shall not broadcast live coverage of sporting events.
2. The licensee shall devote to the exhibition of Canadian programs no less than 90% of the broadcast year and no less than 90% of the evening broadcast period.
3. (a) Subject to subsection (b) the licensee shall not distribute during each clock hour not more than twelve (12) minutes of advertising material that shall consist exclusively of national paid or regional paid advertising.
(b) In addition to the twelve 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 or regional paid advertising.
4. From the date of commencement of service, the licensee shall charge each exhibitor of this service a maximum wholesale rate of $0.30 per subscriber per month, where the service is distributed as part of the basic service.
5. The licensee may require access to distribution undertakings serving the Greater Toronto Area, Oakville, Pickering, Hamilton and Oshawa in accordance with the Access Rules contained in Public Notice CRTC 1996-60 at the earliest of the following:
(a) such time as the distribution undertaking makes use of digital technology for the delivery of programming to subscribers; or
(b) 1 September 1999.
6. 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.
7. The licensee shall adhere to the guidelines on gender portrayal set out in the Canadian Association of Broadcasters' (CAB) "Sex-Role Portrayal Code for Television and Radio Programming", as amended from time to time and approved by the Commission.
8. 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.
9. 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 day", "broadcast year", "evening broadcast period" and "clock hour" shall have the same meaning as those set out in the Television Broadcasting Regulations, 1987; "broadcast week" shall have the same meaning as that set out in the Radio Regulations, 1986; "national paid 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; and "regional advertising" shall mean advertising material which represents retail chains who have locations in various central market areas.
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.