Opening remarks by Marc Patrone, National Commissioner, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

To the public hearing in Gatineau

Gatineau, Quebec
December 11, 2012

Check against delivery

 

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to this public hearing.

Today, we will review a number of issues related to OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, which is operated by Corus Entertainment.

Nature of service and genre exclusivity

OWN holds a licence to operate a national English-language specialty television service that provides educational programming and learning opportunities for adults.

This licence provides certain privileges, one of which is genre protection. This means that no other specialty service can broadcast the same type of educational programming, the same way there can only be one Food Network Canada and History Television. Each service's unique role is outlined in its nature of service, which is a condition of licence. In addition, cable and satellite companies must give their customers the option of subscribing to these services.

The Commission grants such licences to encourage a diversity of programming in the Canadian broadcasting system. It is therefore important for specialty services to broadcast programming that is consistent with their nature of service to ensure they do not compete directly with another service. It should also be noted that specialty services that obtain such a licence must spend more to create, and broadcast higher amounts of, Canadian content.

Apparent non-compliance of OWN

In 2011, the Commission renewed the licences of Corus's specialty television services. At the time, the Commission found that OWN was not complying with the nature of service as defined by its condition of licence. OWN was directed to either file a report detailing the measures it had taken to come into compliance or submit another proposal.

Corus subsequently filed two applications on behalf of OWN, neither of which was consistent with our directions. As a result, the Commission did not process the applications.

Consequently, the Commission has called Corus to this public hearing to discuss its apparent ongoing non-compliance in further detail. We expect Corus to show cause as to why:

  • a mandatory order should not be issued requiring the licensee to comply with its conditions of licence, and
  • its licence should not be suspended or revoked.

Other matters

We will also consider two new applications submitted by Corus. The first application is seeking to amend OWN's licence, while the second is for a new licence to operate a national English-language specialty category B service.

Before we begin, I would like to remind everyone that we welcome different views. We will carefully consider the points brought forward by Corus and the other parties appearing before us today. As with all proceedings, our goal is to ensure that the integrity of the Broadcasting Act and the Commission's regulations are respected, and this will be reflected in our decision.

Process

The panel for this hearing consists of:

  • Suzanne Lamarre, Regional Commissioner for Quebec;
  • Peter Menzies, Regional Commissioner, Alberta and Northwest Territories;
  • and myself, Marc Patrone, CRTC Commissioner. I will be presiding over this hearing.

The Commission team assisting us includes:

  • Tracy Speigel, Hearing Manager and Broadcasting Analyst;
  • Moira Letourneau and Leigh-Anna Gates, Legal Counsel; and
  • Lynda Roy, Hearing Secretary and Supervisor of Public Hearings.

I would now invite the Hearing Secretary, Lynda Roy, to explain the procedures we will be following. Madam Secretary…

 

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