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ARCHIVED -  Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2008-192

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Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2008-192

  Ottawa, 20 August 2008
  Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Across Canada
  Application 2008-0170-6, received 1 February 2008
Public Hearing in the National Capital Region
7 July 2008
 

CBC SportsPlus - Category 2 specialty service

  The Commission approves an application for a broadcasting licence to operate a new Category 2 specialty programming undertaking.
 

Introduction

1.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) filed an application for a broadcasting licence to provide CBC SportsPlus, a national, English-language, Category 2 specialty service that would offer programming dedicated primarily to the coverage and celebration of Canadian athletes with a particular emphasis on amateur athletes.

2.

In its original submission, the CBC proposed a condition of licence stipulating that a minimum of 25% of the broadcast year be devoted to programming drawn from category 6(b) Amateur sport. The CBC also committed, by condition of licence, to broadcast, at a minimum, 80% Canadian content over the broadcast year and during the evening broadcast period throughout the licence term.

3.

The Commission has implemented a competitive, open-entry approach to licensing Category 2 services. While the Commission does not consider the impact that a Category 2 service might have on an existing Category 2 service, it does seek to ensure that Category 2 services do not compete directly with any existing Category 1 or analog pay or specialty television service. The Commission examines each application in detail, taking into consideration the proposed nature of service and the unique circumstances of the genre in question. Where appropriate, in setting conditions of licence, the Commission prevents or limits the broadcast of specific types of programming to ensure that the service is not, nor will become, directly competitive with any existing Category 1 or analog pay or specialty television service.

4.

The Commission received interventions by CTVglobemedia Inc., the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, Maple Leaf Sports + Entertainment Ltd., Rogers Media Inc. and Score Media Inc. (Score Media) opposing this application as well as an intervention by the Canadian Olympic Committee indicating qualified support for the proposal.

5.

For its part, Bell Video Group (Bell) indicated support for the present application provided that carriage of CBC SportsPlus be subject to the rules established in Public Notice 2000-6. In this regard, Bell noted that, during the review of the regulatory frameworks for broadcasting distribution undertakings (BDUs) and discretionary services announced in Broadcasting Notice of Public Hearing 2007-10, the CBC argued that its licensed services should receive mandatory carriage. Score Media also expressed concern about the possibility of CBC SportsPlus being granted mandatory carriage.

6.

The interventions and the applicant's replies can be found on the Commission's website at www.crtc.gc.ca under "Public Proceedings."

7.

After considering the positions of the applicant and the interveners, the Commission finds that the primary issue to be determined in its evaluation of this application is whether the proposed service would be directly competitive with existing Category 1 or analog pay or specialty services.
 

Would CBC SportsPlus be directly competitive with existing Category 1 or analog pay or specialty services?

8.

The opposing interveners contended that, given the CBC's unwillingness to commit to broadcasting a higher percentage of 6(b) Amateur sports programming, the proposed service could devote up to 75% of its schedule to programming drawn from category 6(a) Professional sports. These interveners argued that CBC SportsPlus could broadcast professional sports games including baseball, basketball, football, tennis, golf or hockey if even only one Canadian athlete were on a team. In the view of the opposing interveners, the flexibility to offer a substantial amount of professional sports programming would enable CBC SportsPlus to compete directly with the existing analog sports services, i.e. The Sports Network (TSN), Rogers Sportsnet and The Score, operated by The Sports Network Inc., Rogers SportsNet Inc. and The Score Television Network Ltd., respectively.

9.

Score Media noted that the CBC's national Category 1 service known as Bold is authorized to devote up to 10% of its program schedule to sports. Score Media submitted that, if the Commission were to approve this application, it should impose conditions of licence limiting the programming drawn from category 6(a) to 10% of the broadcast week and prohibiting the broadcast of stick and ball sports, including hockey, baseball, basketball, football, tennis, golf and soccer.

10.

In response to those concerns, the CBC indicated its willingness to abide by conditions of licence stipulating that:
 
  • at least 30% of all programming broadcast during each broadcast year be devoted to category 6(b) Amateur sports; and
 
  • no more than 30% of all programming broadcast during each broadcast year be devoted to category 6(a) Professional sports.
 

Commission's analysis and determinations

11.

The Commission considers that the applicant's commitment to increase the minimum percentage of category 6(b) programming that must be broadcast by CBC SportsPlus as well its proposed limit on category 6(a) programming that the service may offer does address some of the interveners' concerns. Nevertheless, the Commission is not satisfied that the applicant's proposal is sufficient to prevent CBC SportsPlus from being directly competitive with TSN, Rogers Sportsnet and The Score.

12.

The Commission finds that it is appropriate to require CBC SportsPlus to devote a minimum of 30% of the broadcast week to category 6(b) programming, rather than of the broadcast year as proposed by the applicant. Similarly, the Commission considers that CBC SportsPlus should restrict category 6(a) programming to 30% of the broadcast week, rather than of the broadcast year.

13.

The Commission is also concerned that the applicant did not propose any limits on particular types of sports programming. Consistent with its approach for other Category 2 sports services, the Commission deems it appropriate to impose a 10% limitation on the broadcast of professional stick and ball sports, including hockey, baseball, basketball, football, tennis, golf and soccer in each broadcast week.

14.

The Commission expects the CBC to abide by its commitment to broadcast 80% Canadian content in each broadcast year and in the evening broadcast period. However, consistent with its approach for Category 2 services, the Commission is not imposing the CBC's commitment as a condition of licence.

15.

In light of the above, the Commission is satisfied that the application is in conformity with all applicable terms and conditions announced in Public Notice 2000-171-1. Accordingly, the Commission approves the application by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for a broadcasting licence to operate the national, English-language Category 2 specialty programming undertaking CBC SportsPlus. The terms and conditions of licence including conditions reflecting the Commission's determinations set out above are in the appendix to this decision.

16.

With respect with the concerns raised by Bell and Score Media about CBC SportsPlus' carriage, the Commission confirms that this application is for a Category 2 service with no mandatory carriage. The Commission has not yet made any determinations on the matters considered during the review of the regulatory frameworks for BDUs and discretionary services announced in Broadcasting Notice of Public Hearing 2007-10. A decision following the hearing that began 8 April 2008 will be rendered at a later date.
  Secretary General
 

Related documents

 
  • Review of the regulatory frameworks for broadcasting distribution undertakings and discretionary programming services, Broadcasting Notice of Public Hearing CRTC 2007-10, 5 July 2007
 
  • A new policy with respect to closed captioning, Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2007-54, 17 May 2007
 
  • Introductory statement - Licensing of new digital pay and specialty services - Corrected Appendix 2, Public Notice CRTC 2000-171-1, 6 March 2001
 
  • Licensing framework policy for new digital pay and specialty services, Public Notice CRTC 2000-6, 13 January 2000
  This decision is to be appended to the licence. It is available in alternative format upon request and may also be examined in PDF format or in HTML at the following Internet site: www.crtc.gc.ca.
 

Appendix to Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2008-192

 

Terms, conditions of licence and expectation for the Category 2 specialty programming undertaking CBC SportsPlus

 

Terms

  A licence will be issued once the applicant has satisfied the Commission, with supporting documentation, that the following requirements have been met:
 
  • the applicant has entered into a distribution agreement with at least one licensed distributor; and
 
  • the applicant has informed the Commission in writing that it is prepared to commence operations. The undertaking must be operational at the earliest possible date and in any event no later than 36 months from the date of this decision, unless a request for an extension of time is approved by the Commission before 20 August 2011. In order to ensure that such a request is processed in a timely manner, it should be submitted at least 60 days before that date.
  The licence will expire 31 August 2014.
 

Conditions of licence

 

1. The licence will be subject to the conditions set out in Introductory statement - Licensing of new digital pay and specialty services - Corrected Appendix 2, Public Notice CRTC 2000-171-1, 6 March 2001.

 

2. The licensee shall provide a national, English-language, Category 2 specialty programming service devoted primarily to the coverage and celebration of Canadian athletes with a particular emphasis on amateur athletes.

 

3. The programming shall be drawn exclusively from the following categories set out in item 6 of Schedule I to the Specialty Services Regulations, 1990, as amended from time to time:

 

1 News
2 (a) Analysis and interpretation

(b) Long-form documentary

3 Reporting and actualities
5 (b) Informal education/Recreation and leisure
6 (a) Professional sports

(b) Amateur sports

11 General entertainment and human interest
12 Interstitials
13 Public service announcements
14 Infomercials, promotional and corporate videos

 

4. At least 30% of all programming broadcast during each broadcast week shall be devoted to category 6(b).

 

5. No more than 30% of all programming broadcast during each broadcast week shall be devoted to category 6(a).

 

6. No more than 10% of all programming broadcast during each broadcast week shall be devoted to professional stick and/or ball sports, including hockey, baseball, football, basketball, golf, soccer, and tennis.

 

7. The licensee shall caption 100% of its programs over the broadcast day, consistent with the approach set out in A new policy with respect to closed captioning, Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2007-54, 17 May 2007.

 

8. In order to ensure that the licensee complies at all times with the Direction to the CRTC (Ineligibility of non-Canadians), P.C. 1997-486, 8 April 1997, as amended by P.C. 1998-1268, 15 July 1998, the licensee shall file, for the Commission's prior review, a copy of any programming supply agreement and/or licence trademark agreement it intends to enter into with a non-Canadian party.

  For the purposes of the conditions of this licence, including condition of licence no. 1, broadcast day refers to the 24-hour period beginning each day at 6 a.m. or any other period approved by the Commission.
 

Expectation

  The Commission expects the licensee to abide by its commitment to broadcast 80% Canadian content in each broadcast year and in the evening broadcast period.

Date Modified: 2008-08-20