Ottawa, 28 November 2012
Ms. Cynthia Rathwell
Shaw Communications Inc.
1400 - 40 Elgin Street
Ottawa, Ontario KIP 5K6
Re: Request for Extension of Local Television Satellite Solution Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2010-782
Dear Ms. Rathwell:
This is in response to your letter of October 19, 2012, in which Shaw Direct (Shaw) proposed to extend the eligibility period for the Local Television Satellite Solution (LTSS) for 12 months to November 30, 2013, and requested approval to allocate tangible benefit funds towards the administration and marketing of the program during that period. As described herein, Commission approves the extension of the program and allocation of the funds as requested.
The Commission notes that, as part of the purchase of Canwest Global Communications Inc. (Canwest), Shaw allocated a portion of its tangible benefits package to the provision of free local or regional services, and the necessary satellite receiving equipment and installation services, for up to 31,500 households that have lost access to one or more local over-the¬-air stations as a result of the digital television (DTV) transition. Shaw was authorized to allocate $1 million of the $15 million LTSS benefit to costs incurred to implement and administer the service during the initial eligibility period ending November 30, 2011, and an additional $1.5 million to administer the program during the 1-year extension of the offer period ending on November 30, 2012. Shaw was also authorized to allocate $1 million of the benefit funds to undertake a targeted local marketing campaign in order to increase awareness of the program.
Extension of Program Offer Period
In your letter, Shaw noted that subscriptions to the LTSS program have increased 77% since July 2012, and indicated that households continue to request access to the program. Shaw further indicated that sustaining the program eligibility period for another 12 months will help ensure that no Canadians are left behind following the DTV transition or the recent shutdown of over-the-air transmitters by a number of public broadcasters.
As the program has not been fully subscribed, Shaw proposed to extend the offer period for an additional 12 months, to November 30, 2013. In order to extend the offer as proposed, Shaw sought approval to allocate an additional $1.5 million of the LTSS benefit towards administration of the program during that period.
As additional qualifying households may still seek access to the program and as significant funds remain in the program, the Commission considers it appropriate to extend the offer period of the program from November 30, 2012 to November 30, 2013, and to approve the allocation of $1.5 million of the LTSS benefit to administer the program during that period, provided that the program is made available to 31,500 households, if such demand materializes.
Marketing of the LTSS
In your letter, Shaw indicated that local marketing in support of the program in 2012 has increased awareness and uptake of the program significantly. Shaw further indicated that its efforts to increase public awareness of the program have contributed to the 77% increase in subscriptions since July 2012. Accordingly, it proposed to allocate an additional $1 million to undertake local marketing during the 1-year eligibility period ending November 30, 2013, to ensure that qualifying households are aware of the program.
For the reasons set out above, the Commission also considers it appropriate to approve Shaw’s proposal to allocate $1 million of the LTSS benefit to undertake additional local marketing during the 12 month extension of its program.
The Commission expects that Shaw will make readily available information describing the program and subscription process on its website. This information should be accessible from Shaw’s homepage for the duration of the eligibility period unless the program is fully subscribed prior to November 30, 2013.
The Commission commends Shaw for its efforts to ensure that Canadian households maintain access to local and regional programming.