Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2012-414
Route reference: Part I application posted on 7 June 2012
Ottawa, 27 July 2012
Ontario Educational Communications Authority
TVO (CICA-TV Toronto) – Licence amendment to remove all analog transmitters
The Commission approves the application to amend the broadcasting licence for TVO (CICA-TV Toronto), which is operated by the Ontario Educational Communications Authority (OECA), in order to delete reference to all analog transmitters, effective 1 August 2012. The OECA plans to cease operation of these transmitters on 31 July 2012.
1. The Ontario Educational Communications Authority (OECA) filed an application requesting that all reference to analog transmitters (listed in the appendix to this decision as per the OECA’s application on 9 May 2012) be removed from the TVO licence. The OECA plans to cease operation of these transmitters on 31 July 2012.
2. The Commission received interventions from individuals that either opposed or commented on the OECA’s plans to cease transmitting TVO’s signal in analog.
3. A number of interveners described the importance of the station’s programming to keeping the citizens of Ontario well-informed and submitted that cable, satellite or Internet services were either not available or not affordable for many residents of the communities where TVO’s analog transmitters would be shut down. Some interveners also expressed the view that it was inequitable to deny free public access to TVO when taxpaying citizens already contribute to its funding.
4. In addition, a number of interveners proposed alternative solutions to avert either the shutdown of the analog transmitters or the loss of TVO’s signal in affected communities, including the availability of sub-channel carriage arrangements with licensees of digital transmitters currently serving these communities.
5. In its reply, the OECA indicated that it must reduce its dependence on government funding and that it did not have the means to make further expenditures on digital over-the-air (OTA) conversions or to sustain the operation of its analog OTA transmitters.
6. The OECA also noted the availability of alternatives for receiving its station’s signal, such as a subscription to services provided by a terrestrial broadcasting distribution undertaking or a direct-to-home satellite distribution undertaking, as well as Shaw Direct TV’s Local Television Satellite Solution (LTSS), which will include TVO’s signal as part of its free basic service as of 1 August 2012.
7. In response to the alternative solutions proposed by interveners that requested continued OTA service, the OECA replied that given the small number of viewers affected and the alternatives already available, it would be more prudent to direct its limited financial resources to programming.
Commission’s analysis and decision
8. The Commission has considered the comments submitted in response to this application and notes the concerns expressed by the parties regarding the availability of the TVO service.
9. The Commission also notes that licences, such as the one held by the OECA, are authorizations to broadcast, but do not convey an obligation to do so. In other words, while the Commission has the discretion to refuse to amend broadcasting licences, even on application from a licensee, it cannot direct the OECA or any other broadcaster to continue to operate its station or transmitters.
10. The Commission further notes the availability of alternatives, including a free basic service provided by Shaw Direct TV as part the LTSS that will include TVO as of 1 August 2012. Specifically, as part of the decision authorizing Shaw to purchase the television assets of Canwest Global,1 the Commission permitted Shaw to allocate some of its tangible benefits to the provision of free local or regional services and the necessary satellite receiving equipment and installation services for households that no longer have access to over-the-air stations as a result of the digital transition. The LTSS has been extended to 30 November 2012 with monies earmarked to implement a marketing campaign in local media in affected markets.
11. In light of the above, the Commission approves the application by the Ontario Educational Communications Authority to amend TVO’s broadcasting licence in order to delete all reference to the analog transmitters listed in the appendix to this decision. This amendment is effective 1 August 2012.
*This decision is to be appended to the licence.
Appendix to Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2012-414
Analog low-powered relay television transmitters located in Ontario
Analog medium- and high-powered transmitters located in Ontario
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