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ARCHIVED -  Decision CRTC 2000-450

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Decision CRTC 2000-450


Ottawa, 14 December 2000

Vision TV: Canada's Faith Network, on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated to be known as Wisdom: Canada's Body, Mind and Spirit Channel

Across Canada — 200009169

14 August 2000 Public Hearing
National Capital Region

Wisdom: Canada's Body, Mind & Spirit Channel - a new specialty channel

On 24 November 2000, the Commission made a decision to issue a licence for a new national English-language Category 1 specialty television service to be called "Wisdom: Canada's Body, Mind and Spirit Channel" (Wisdom). The Commission noted at that time that reasons, terms and conditions of the new licence would follow at a later date.

Wisdom will focus on an holistic approach to wellness, offering programming that will address the interests of a large number of Canadians in new and alternative ways. As noted in Public Notice CRTC 2000-171 issued today, Wisdom and 20 other new digital specialty services will be made available to subscribers by all distributors who offer programming to the public using digital technology and by some cable operators who serve smaller markets using analog technology. The licence, when issued, will expire 31 August 2007.

Wisdom will bring added diversity to the Canadian broadcasting system by offering a unique service devoted to the relationships between the body, mind and spirit. While a few programs of this nature are broadcast on some existing Canadian television services, no service entirely devoted to this type of programming currently exists. In Public Notice 2000-171, the Commission discusses the general criteria for the approval of this and other applications for new specialty services.

Wisdom's major shareholder will be Vision TV Digital Inc., on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated, which will be wholly owned by Vision TV: Canada's Faith Network (Vision TV), a Canadian, non-profit corporation. The other shareholders in Wisdom will be Radio Nord Communications Inc. (15%) and Wisdom Media Group Inc. (19.9%), a non-Canadian corporation.

Terms and conditions of licence common to all of the new Category 1 specialty services are set out in an appendix to Public Notice 2000-171. Conditions specific to this application can be found in the appendix to this decision.

Programming

Nature of service

Wisdom will provide a national English-language specialty television service offering attractive and unique programming that will discuss, reveal and explore the interconnectedness between the body, mind and spirit. The new service will examine holistic approaches to wellness, but will not focus on traditional, Western medical theories or practices. A minimum of 70% of the programming on Wisdom will be drawn from subcategory 5b - Informal education/Recreation & Leisure. All of the program categories identified by Wisdom as forming the service's content are set out in a condition of licence found in the appendix to this decision.

Wisdom plans to provide programming from a Canadian perspective on both new and ancient options in exercise, nutrition, spiritual healing, relationships and other such matters. The new service will also broadcast approximately two hours of music daily, focusing on "New Age", Celtic and various "World music" forms, genres of music not generally available on commercial radio or exposed on television music video services. Depending on the individual program, some would be repeated only once per year, and others a maximum of six times per year.

The nature of the service to be provided by Wisdom, as specified by the applicant, will be subject to a number of conditions which are set out in the appendix to this decision. Among the conditions are:

  • limits placed upon the amount of programming that will originate from the U.S.,
  • a maximum number of feature films to be broadcast on the service (one per week),
  • a maximum of 10 hours per week of evening programming characterized as "drama",
  • limits on the amount of music & music video programming, and
  • a minimum level of 30% Canadian content for the music broadcast.

With respect to the limited amounts of music and drama that will be broadcast, Wisdom indicated that the criteria used for selecting such programming would be based on how the specific programs explore the relationships between mind, body and spirit. The applicant stated it anticipates that approximately 10 to 12% of the programming on Wisdom will come from Wisdom Media's U.S. service.

Contributions to diversity

Wisdom will contribute to increased diversity of ownership in the Canadian broadcasting system. It will also add programming diversity to the system as a whole by offering a unique service, dedicated to holistic approaches to wellness. The applicant acknowledged that certain programs of this nature are available on several different existing television services. At the same time, the applicant indicated that no service is currently providing these programs on a full-time basis, nor is anyone providing them from a holistic approach. Wisdom further noted that while some programming of this type is now broadcast on Vision, the demand for this type of programming exceeds Vision's mandate and capacity to provide it.

Wisdom has indicated that cultural diversity will be a hallmark of its programming. Since the expertise for many elements of the discussions and information that will form Wisdom's programming rests with cultural and racial minorities and Aboriginal peoples, these groups will have an important role to play as hosts, guest experts and panelists on many of the programs on the new service. The licensee also noted that Wisdom will have a close working relationship with the Aboriginal Peoples' Television Network (APTN), with whom Vision already has a business relationship. According to the applicant, APTN has "responded very positively to our initiative to co-produce with them a significant series dealing with Aboriginal spirituality and Native wisdom, which would be aired on both Wisdom and APTN."

Canadian content

The licensee made a commitment to broadcast a minimum of 50% Canadian content from 6 a.m. to midnight, and a minimum of 50% from 6 p.m. to midnight, in the first two years of the licence term. Wisdom's commitment will be increased gradually over the licence term. Beginning in the fifth year of the term, and until the end of the licence term, a minimum of 60% Canadian content will be broadcast, both during the period 6 a.m. to midnight, and between 6 p.m. and midnight. In addition, the licensee made a commitment that 30% of all musical selections broadcast each week on the new service would be Canadian. Conditions of licence related to the required levels of Canadian programming and music are set out in the appendix to this decision.

Following discussions at the hearing, the licensee further committed to broadcast a minimum of 600 hours of original Canadian programs in the first year of the licence term, increasing to a minimum of 1,250 hours in the seventh year of the term. Wisdom estimated that a total of 6,000 hours of original Canadian programs would be broadcast over the first licence term.

Canadian programming expenditures

Beginning in the year following the first year of operation, the licensee will expend a yearly minimum of 41% of its gross advertising, infomercial and subscription revenues on Canadian programming. The licensee estimates that, in accordance with this formula, it will spend approximately $26 million over the licence term, to acquire or produce Canadian programs. A formula for the calculation of the amounts required is set out in a condition of licence, found in the appendix to this decision.

Independent production

Wisdom expects to have a beneficial working relationship with independent producers, similar to that experienced by Vision. Wisdom estimates that over the licence term, approximately $21 million, or 75% of the total Canadian programming expenditures noted above will be spent on the acquisition of programming from independent producers. The Commission notes the licensee's commitments, and as set out in Public Notice 2000-171, all Category 1 services will be subject to a standard condition of licence in this regard.

Interactivity

Vision TV already provides interactivity via a website where viewers can access information about programs and communicate with Vision TV. The applicant noted that the Vision TV website was chosen by The Globe and Mail newspaper as one of the top television-related websites to visit. Wisdom plans to enhance this success by building a "spiritual portal" which will serve viewers of both Vision and Wisdom. The portal will offer the opportunity to download programs and information, to view programs on computers, and to enter into dialogue with Vision, Wisdom, other viewers and content providers. Wisdom will also provide chat rooms, comprehensive program and scheduling information, links to related sites, and on-line shopping for a variety of related goods and services.

Wisdom intends to investigate potential partners to assist in the operation and expansion of its web-based activity, continuing to foster and develop its partnering strategy to stay "on the cutting edge" of programming and software development. It will offer web-based activity until such time as true television interactivity is possible through technological advances.

Ownership and synergies

As noted above, the shareholders of Wisdom will be Vision TV Digital Inc., on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated (65.1%), Radio Nord Communications Inc. (15%) and Wisdom Media Group Inc. (19.9%). The 65.1 % shareholder in Wisdom, Vision TV Digital Inc., on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated, will be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Vision TV: Canada's Faith Network/Réseau religieux canadien (Vision TV), a Canadian, non-profit corporation without share capital. Vision TV is the licensee of "Vision", an existing Canadian specialty television service focusing on religion and spiritual issues. Vision TV will manage the service and anticipates synergies through the operation of more than one service from the same facilities. In addition, Vision TV's share of profits will be invested in programming for Vision.

Radio Nord Communications Inc. is a Canadian broadcast company, operating French-language radio and television stations in Quebec. Wisdom Media Group Inc. is a U.S.-based company that operates "The Wisdom Channel", a leading provider of programming and new media material in the "body, mind, spirit" genre. Both Radio-Nord Inc. and Wisdom Media will be financial partners in the new service, bringing programming and Internet experience as well as financial strengths to the partnership.

Filing requirements

This authority will only be effective and the Commission will only issue the licence when the applicant has clearly demonstrated that it is a "qualified corporation" as defined in the Direction to the CRTC (Ineligibility of non-Canadians) and is eligible to hold a licence. Consequently, the applicant is required to file all relative incorporation documents (certificate and articles, by-laws, etc.), copies of the programming supply agreement; unanimous Shareholders' Agreement, management agreement or any other pertinent agreement, for review and approval by the Commission.

Other matters

Rate

In its business plan, the licensee proposed a monthly wholesale rate of $0.30 per subscriber throughout the licence term.

Service to the hearing-impaired

As part of its application, Wisdom committed to install a TTY (teletypewriter), and to ensure that, beginning in the first year of operation, 50% of all programming would be closed captioned. That amount will increase gradually over the licence term, and in year four the minimum to be closed captioned will be 90%. That minimum will remain in effect for the remainder of the licence term. The Commission notes the licensee's commitments, and expects them to be fulfilled.

Service to the visually-impaired

With respect to descriptive video service (DVS), the licensee stated that it will:

"make all efforts to find [described video] programs and, if they become available, will promote their scheduling through promotions with the National Broadcast Reading Service (NBRS) and the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) as well as promotion on the channel and on Vision TV."

The Commission requires Wisdom to be technically equipped to deliver described video programming and to fulfil the commitments included in the application. In addition, the Commission encourages the licensee to provide audio description of visual information wherever possible, and to provide described video programming as outlined in Public Notice 2000-171.

Employment equity

The Commission notes that this licensee will be subject to the Employment Equity Act that came into effect on 24 October 1996 and therefore will file reports concerning employment equity with Human Resources Development Canada.

Conclusion

The Commission is satisfied that Wisdom will provide programming that will address the interests of a large number of Canadians in new and alternative ways, with an approach that is less conventional than that taken by traditional health and health-related programming. It will offer a uniquely Canadian perspective on both new and ancient methods of healing, maintaining wellness and spirituality. Given the applicant's long experience in the delivery of a specialty television service in a closely related genre, and its strong and successful history of partnerships, the Commission is persuaded that Wisdom will be an interesting and provocative new service in the digital environment.

Secretary General

This decision is to be appended to the licence. It is available in alternative format upon request, and may also be examined at the following Internet site: www.crtc.gc.ca

 

 

Appendix to Decision CRTC 2000-450

 

The licence for the national English-language programming undertaking (specialty television service) known as Wisdom: Canada's Body, Mind and Spirit Channel will be subject to the following conditions, as well as those set out both in Public Notice CRTC 2000-171, and in the licence to be issued.

 

Nature of service

  1. (a) The licensee shall provide a national English-language Category 1 specialty television service providing programming that discusses, reveals and explores the interconnectedness between body, mind and spirit. The programming will include holistic approaches to wellness, but not traditional, Western, medical theory or practices.

 
  1. The programming must be drawn exclusively from the following categories, as set out in Schedule I to the Specialty Services Regulations, 1990:

2b

Long-form documentary

7g

Other drama

4

Religion

8a

Music and dance other than 8b or 8c

5b

Informal education/recreation and leisure

8b

Music video clips

7a

Ongoing dramatic series

8c

Music video programs

7b

Ongoing comedy series (sitcoms)

10

Game shows

7c

Specials, mini-series, made-for-TV feature films

12

Interstitials

7d

Theatrical feature films aired on TV

13

Public service announcements (PSAs)

7e

Animated television programs and films

14

Infomercials, promotional/corporate video

7f

Comedy sketches, unscripted work, stand-up comedy

   
 
  • No more than 10 hours of programming during each broadcast week between 6:00 pm and midnight shall be drawn from Category 7.
 
  • Of the total of category 7 programming broadcast during each broadcast week, no more than 10 hours shall originate from the U.S.
 
  • No more than one feature film shall be broadcast during each broadcast week.
 
  • No more than 5% of all programming broadcast during each broadcast week shall be drawn from each of Categories 4,10,12,13 and 14.
 
  • No more than 12% of all programming broadcast during each broadcast week shall be drawn from each of Categories 2b, 7 and 8.
 
  • Not less than 70% of all programming broadcast during each broadcast week shall be devoted to Category 5b.
 
  • Not less than 30% of all musical selections broadcast during each broadcast week shall be Canadian musical selections.

 

 

 

Exhibition of Canadian programs

 

2. In each broadcast year or portion thereof, the licensee shall devote to the distribution of Canadian programs the following percentages of the broadcast day and the evening broadcast period:

   

Broadcast day

Evening broadcast period

 

Year one

50%

50%

 

Year two

50%

50%

 

Year three

55%

55%

 

Year four

55%

55%

 

Year five

60%

60%

 

Year six

60%

60%

 

Year seven

60%

60%

 

Expenditures on Canadian programs

 

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, except as amended below:

 

(a) In each broadcast year following the first year of operation, the licensee shall expend on Canadian programs not less than 41% of the previous broadcast year's gross advertising, infomercial and subscription revenues;

 

(b) In each broadcast year following the first year of operation, excluding the final year, the licensee may expend an amount on Canadian programs that is up to ten percent (10%) less than the minimum required expenditure for that year set out in or calculated in accordance with this condition; in such case, the licensee shall expend in the next year of the licence term, in addition to the minimum required expenditure for that year, the full amount of the previous year's underexpenditure;

 

(c) In each broadcast year following the first year of operation, where the licensee expends an amount on Canadian programs that is greater than the minimum required expenditure for that year set out in or calculated in accordance with this condition, the licensee may deduct:

 

(i) from the minimum required expenditure for the next year of the licence term, an amount not exceeding the amount of the previous year's overexpenditure; and

 

(ii) from the minimum required expenditure for any subsequent year of the licence term, an amount not exceeding the difference between the overexpenditure and any amount deducted under paragraph (i) above.

 

(d) Notwithstanding paragraphs (b) and (c) above, during the licence term, the licensee shall expend on Canadian programs, at a minimum, the total of the minimum required expenditures set out in or calculated in accordance with the licensee's condition of licence.

 

Definition

 

The term "broadcast day" shall have the same meaning as that set out in the Television Broadcasting Regulations, 1987.

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