CRTC Communications Monitoring Report


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2.0 The CRTC, policies, and regulation

2.1 The CRTC

The CRTC is an independent public authority in charge of regulating and supervising Canadian broadcasting and telecommunications. It serves the public interest and its powers and jurisdiction are set out in the Acts. The CRTC reports to Parliament through the Minister of Canadian Heritage. The Governor in Council may issue directions of general application to the Commission on matters related to the telecommunications, broadcasting, or regulatory policy objectives set out in the Acts.

The components of broadcasting policy set out in section 3 of the Broadcasting Act are directly or indirectly tied to the cultural, social, political, and economic fabric of Canada, while those of the telecommunications policy set out in section 7 of the Telecommunications Act are tied to the country’s social and economic fabric.

Access to Canadian content, particularly its creation and availability to Canadians, is the underlying principle of the broadcasting objectives. Canadian content must not only exist, it should also be available to all Canadians both as participants in the industry and as members of the audience. To achieve the objectives of the Broadcasting Act, the Commission is guided by the regulatory policy objectives set out in subsection 5(2) of that Act, which requires the Commission to regulate and supervise the broadcasting system in a flexible manner that, among other things, takes into account regional concerns, is adaptable to technological developments, and facilitates the provision of broadcasting and Canadian programs to Canadians.

Pursuant to the Telecommunications Act, the Commission strives to ensure the provision of reliable and affordable telecommunications services of high quality accessible to both urban and rural area customers, to foster facilities-based competition, to provide incumbents with incentives to increase efficiencies and be more innovative, and to adopt regulatory approaches, that foster increased reliance on market forces and ensure that regulation, when required, is efficient and effective.

Since December 2006, the Commission has applied the Policy Direction in the exercise of its powers and performance of its duties under the Telecommunications Act. The Policy Direction mandates the CRTC to rely on market forces to the maximum extent feasible and, when regulating to do so in a manner that is efficient, proportionate to the purpose of regulation, and interferes with market forces to the minimum extent necessary. The Policy Direction specifies criteria that must be met by any new regulatory measure. The Policy Direction further directs the CRTC to adopt operational practices that promote more efficient, informed, and timely regulation, where required.

In addition to implementing the policy objectives in its governing legislation, the Commission also seeks to ensure that its regulatory frameworks for the Canadian broadcasting and telecommunications industries are keeping pace with emerging technologies. In all of its activities, the Commission is guided by four basic principles: transparency, fairness, predictability, and timeliness. Consequently, it endeavours to make and publish its decisions promptly and with a clear rationale. To further the transparency of its processes, the CRTC prepares each year (a) a summary of its activities related to the Canadian broadcasting and telecommunications industries, and (b) its three-year work plan in consultation with industry stakeholders. These documents are available to the public on the CRTC’s website:

2.2 Regulatory oversight of broadcasting and telecommunications


The Commission uses a variety of means to exercise its regulatory powers. Under section 6 of the Broadcasting Act, the Commission has the power to establish policy guidelines and statements. These policy guidelines and statements are periodically reviewed to ensure that they are current. When reviewing the guidelines and statements, the Commission consults with the industry and the public by holding public proceedings, which can include calls for comments. The Commission also has the power, pursuant to the Broadcasting Act, to make regulations3 respecting the Canadian broadcasting industry. Under subsection 9(1) of that Act, the Commission has the authority to establish classes of licence and to impose conditions of licence. To achieve the Canadian broadcasting policy objectives set out in the Broadcasting Act, the Commission imposes conditions of licence when it issues a licence and amends these conditions as necessary when renewing the licence.

Pursuant to section 47 of the Telecommunications Act, the Commission must exercise its powers and perform its duties under that Act with a view to implementing the telecommunications policy objectives set out in section 7 and ensuring that Canadian carriers provide telecommunications services at rates that do not discriminate unjustly or accord any undue preference4, as well as, in accordance with any order made by the Governor in Council or any standards prescribed by the Minister of Industry5. In addition to regulating the rates, terms and conditions under which telecommunications services are provided, the Commission has the power to forbear from regulating telecommunications services or classes of service where it finds, among other things, that there is sufficient competition to protect the interests of users6.

The Commission fulfils its broadcasting and telecommunications regulatory and supervisory responsibilities by means of a number of interrelated activities, which include:

  1. establishing, monitoring, assessing and reviewing, where appropriate, regulatory frameworks to meet its policy objectives;
  2. implementing procedures for the efficient and effective resolution of competitive disputes; and
  3. making determinations on industry mergers, acquisitions and changes of ownership in the industry.

The Commission also monitors the programming and financial obligations of broadcasting undertakings to ensure compliance with regulations and conditions of licence.

Regulatory framework within a competitive environment

In exercising its statutory powers under the Acts and predecessor legislation, the Commission has, where feasible, gradually and in an orderly manner opened up monopoly-based markets to competition to allow consumers multiple means of receiving programming services that include not only traditional cable companies but also satellite, wireless and telephone companies. In Public Notice 1997-25, the Commission established the conditions of Class 1 undertaking fees7. In the process of opening the BDU market to competition, the Commission has implemented self-regulatory mechanisms in the broadcasting industry where appropriate. The Commission has encouraged industry associations, such as the CAB, to develop self-regulating codes of conduct and standards pertaining to their industries.

Similarly, since the early nineties, the Commission has moved toward greater deregulation of the telecommunications market. In Telecom Decision 94-19, the Commission established a three-step process by which it could determine whether a telecommunications market is or is likely to become competitive for the purpose of considering forbearance applications8.

Since 1994, the Commission has forborne, in large part, from regulating a number of telecommunications services including mobile services, retail Internet services, long distance and international services, various data and private line services, terminal equipment and inside wiring, satellite services and services provided by non-dominant carriers. In 2006, the frameworks for the forbearance from regulating retail local exchange services were established. The Forbearance Order amended the Commission’s framework established in Telecom Decision 2006-15 for forbearing from regulating retail local exchange services. In the HSDS Decision, the Commission established a framework for forbearing from regulating high-speed DNA services and MWS. In this decision, the Commission also forbore from regulating Bell Canada’s high-speed DNA services in a number of wire centres and from regulating the company’s MWS in the Toronto, Montréal and Ottawa census metropolitan areas.

The Commission will review the regulatory framework relating to vertical integration (Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2010-783) by way of a public hearing to consider whether it is appropriate that it expand upon existing safeguards so as to better take into account systemic changes in the broadcasting industry. In this process, among other things, the Commission will review and, where appropriate, update the issues examined in Broadcasting Public Notice 2005-35 (Good Commercial Practices) including, in particular, “Possible suspension of proposed changes in distribution pending dispute resolution,” identified in paragraphs 29 to 33 of the Notice.

Dispute resolution

For the twelve-month fiscal period ending 31 March 2011, the Commission’s Broadcasting ADR group commenced with one outstanding formal dispute resolution file from the previous fiscal period and opened four new files. All were undue preference files dealing with significant matters raised by the changing dynamics of services and platforms as the broadcasting industry transitions to a digital environment. There remained four dispute files outstanding at the end of the period, of which two were received in June 2010; one was received in December 2010 and one in January 2011.

During the same period, the ADR group assisted parties to fully resolve (i.e. the parties settled on all issues between them) two of the 15 requests for informal interventions that were received, 6 more were concluded and disposed with staff assistance, and seven are still on-going. It is noteworthy that, similar to the comments provided above for formal disputes, the majority of matters dealt with informally concerned subject matters related to changing platforms or packaging arrangements, disputes born in an environment of changing commercial and regulatory realities. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the submission of matters to the Commission for both formal and informal assistance declined substantially in the last several years as parties waited for the commercial and regulatory environments to become somewhat more clarified.

Statistical information - Regulatory oversight of broadcasting and telecommunications

Table 2.2.1 Broadcasting complaints by sector, by issue

  2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11
Complaints received Referrals to CBSC Complaints received Referrals to CBSC Complaints received Referrals to CBSC Complaints received Referrals to CBSC
Abusive comment1 11 - 26 10 22 2 35 5
Adult content 8 3 19 11 10 9 13 5
Alcohol advertising - - 6 - - - - -
Gender portrayal - - 1 1 1 1 - -
Offensive comment2 89 30 397 308 224 140 220 100
Offensive language3 24 8 40 23 39 16 296 266
Conventional television
Abusive comment 5 1 39 5 27 5 26 -
Adult content 84 34 111 47 87 25 52 8
Alcohol advertising 4 - 17 1 5 1 4 -
Gender portrayal - - 5 2 9 2 2 -
Offensive comment 107 6 455 61 260 133 135 22
Offensive language 34 14 51 20 47 19 41 19
Television violence 40 9 85 24 56 20 84 14
Specialty channels
Abusive comment 2 - 10 - 2 - - -
Adult content 32 14 82 39 41 10 31 10
Alcohol advertising 1 - 1 - 2 - - -
Gender portrayal - - - - - - - -
Offensive comment 12 2 212 202 22 12 19 5
Offensive language 7 2 32 23 25 8 13 6
Television violence 14 5 20 14 19 9 21 5
Pay television and pay-per-view services
Abusive comment - - - - - - - -
Adult content 4 - 402 1 24 3 32 -
Alcohol advertising - - - - - - - -
Gender portrayal - - - - - - - -
Offensive comment - - 2 - - - - -
Offensive language - - - - - - - -
Television violence - - - - - - - -
Subscription radio (Satellite)
Abusive comment - - - - - - - -
  • For the 12 month period: 1 April to 31 March
  1. Where a complaint alleges that hatred or contempt was incited on-air against one of the groups identified in the television, radio, or specialty regulations.
  2. Where a complaint alleges offensive humour or other comments that do not fall under the “abusive comment” provision.
  3. Where a complaint alleges offensive language in song lyrics or in spoken word.

Source: CRTC Correspondence Tracking System (The Rapids tracking system counts multiple contacts from the same client on the same complaint as separate units. The actual number of complaints received should be therefore slightly lower.)

Table 2.2.2 Number of contacts by public

  2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11
Broadcasting related enquiries 14,594 7,131 5,747 6,261
Broadcasting complaints 5,581 11,851 12,740 10,813
  • For the 12 month period: 1 April to 31 March

Source: CRTC Correspondence Tracking System (The Rapids tracking system counts multiple contacts from the same client on the same complaint as separate units, therefore the actual number of complaints received should be slightly lower.)

Table 2.2.3 Complaints handled by the CBSC

  2007-08 2008-09 2009-10
Files handled by the CBSC 1,498 1,781 2,035
Referred by the CRTC 979 1,045 761

Source: CBSC annual reports

Table 2.2.4 Complaints handled by the ASC

  2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
Complaints received by the ASC 1,040 1,445 1,119 1,228 1,200
Complaints about television ads 527 857 528 546 526
Percent of total complaints received 51% 59% 47% 44% 44%
Complaints about radio ads 73 52 56 64 67
Percent of total complaints received 7% 4% 5% 5% 5%

Source: Ad complaints reports

Statistical Information - Dispute resolution

Table 2.2.5 Number of dispute files received in 2010/2011

  Disputes/mediation Final Offer
Broadcasting 20 2
Telecommunications  5 2
Total 25 4
  • For the period 1 April 2010 to 31 March 2011

Source: CRTC internal tracking

Table 2.2.6 Number of broadcasting dispute files received in 2010/2011

  Formal dispute files Informal interventions
Building access 0 0
Distribution/programming 5 15
Total 5 15
  • For the period 1 April 2010 to 31 March 2011

Source: CRTC internal tracking

2.3 Contribution and spending regimes

The Commission uses a number of approaches to achieve the cultural, social and economic objectives set out in the Acts. One such method has been the establishment of contribution and spending regimes.

In 2010, broadcasting and telecommunications providers contributed $3.1 billion towards the achievement of these objectives. Approximately 95% of these funds were for cultural and programming initiatives under the Broadcasting Act and the remaining 5% were for the achievement of the social and economic objectives under the Telecommunications Act.

Contribution and spending regimes at a glance

($ millions) 2009 2010
CCD reported by commercial radio and audio services 51 46 -9.6
Television CPE  2,429 2,431 0.1
BDU contribution to Canadian programming 352 368 4.6
LPIF  - 101 -
Subsidization of residential telephone in high-cost serving areas 182 165 -9.3

Source: CRTC Data Collection

Statistical information: Contribution and spending regimes - Broadcasting

The following contribution and spending regimes are based on the 1 September 2009 to 31 August 2010 broadcast year. Refer to the broadcasting section of this report for additional statistical information. These charts do not reflect additional funding, incentives or contributions made by private institutions or government bodies towards the development and production of Canadian audio and visual content that are outside of the CRTC’s administrative scope and mandate.

Figure 2.3.1 2010 Contributions to CCD reported by commercial radio & audio services, $46.1 million

This pie chart shows the percentage of CCD contributions reported by commercial radio and audio services in 2010. Total 2010 contributions were $51.1 million. In the context of radio license renewals: 16%; New radio stations in their first license term: 48%; Related to tangible benefits: 36%.
  • Minor variances are due to rounding.
  • Includes contributions made under both the CTD and CCD regimes.

Source: CRTC data collection

Figure 2.3.2 2010 Television CPE, $2.4 billion

This pie chart shows total CPE as a percentage of total CPE reported by the television sector in 2010. Total CPE reported is $2.4 billion: $1,042 million or 39% is related to specialty analog services; $78 million or 3% is related to digital 1 and 2 specialty services; $111 million or 4% is related to Pay, PPV and VOD services; 25% is related to private conventional television; $696 or 26% is related to CBC conventional television; and $72 or 3% is related to Other public and not for profit services. The pie chart also indicates that Specialty, Pay, PPV and VOD combined accounted for 46% of total CPE; Combined CBC, other public and not-for-profit accounted for 29% of total CPE.
  • Minor variances are due to rounding.
  • CPE: Includes expenditures on Canadian programs telecast, write-down of Canadian inventory, script and concepts and loss on equity Canadian programs.
  • Includes expenditures relating to ownership transfer benefits and to commitments made at the time of licensing. Excludes CMF “top-up” reported by private conventional, specialty, Pay, PPV and VOD television services.
  • CBC conventional television excludes indirect and facility cost allocations. Certain programming related expenses are included as programming costs beginning in 2008 consistent with CRTC guidelines.

* Estimate

Source: CRTC data collection

Figure 2.3.3 2010 BDU contributions to Canadian programming and local expression, $368 million

This pie chart shows the percentage of total contributions to Canadian programming and local expression made by the BDU sector in 2010.  Total contributions were $352 million: 51% was to CTF; 14% was to other independent funds; and 35% was to local expression also referred to as community channel programming.
  • Minor variances are due to rounding.

Source: CRTC data collection

Table 2.3.1 LPIF – Contributions and number of recipients

Year Contributions ($ millions) Number of recipients LPIF funding as a
percentage of total
recipients’ revenues
(excluding the CBC)
Licensees Stations
2009-2010 100.7 16 79 10.8%
  • Based on the 1 September 2009 to 31 August 2010 broadcast year

Source: CRTC data collection

Figure 2.3.4 LPIF distribution by region and owner group

This duo pie chart shows LPIF distribution by region and by owner group. Distribution in British Columbia and the Territories: 11%; Altantic Canada: 19%; Quebec: 21%; Ontario: 25%; Prairies: 24%.  Distribution by CTV: 23.6%; TVA: 6.5%; CBC 34.1%; Shaw: 8.7%; Rogers: 1.1%; Other: 26.0%.

Source: CRTC data collection

Statistical Information: Contribution and spending regimes – Telecommunications

Figure 2.3.5 Subsidy paid to LECs and the revenue-percent charge

This bar line chart shows the subsidy received by LECs in millions of dollars from 2006 to 2010:  238, 219, 209, 182 and 165.  Contribution rates for the same period are also provided: 1.03%, 0.94%, 0.87%, 0.81% and 0.73%.

Sources: CRTC data collection and decisions



[3Radio Regulations, 1986; Television Broadcasting Regulations, 1987; Broadcasting Information Regulations, 1993; Broadcasting Licence Fee Regulations, 1997; CRTC Rules of Procedure; Broadcasting Distribution Regulations; Pay Television Regulations, 1990; Specialty Services Regulations, 1990. and in accordance with any order made by the Governor in Council or any standards prescribed by the Minister of Industry

[4] Subsections 27(1) and 27(2) of the Telecommunications Act

[5] Sections 8, 15 and 47 of the Telecommunications Act

[6] Section 34 of the Telecommunications Act

[7] BDUs are classified based on the number of subscribers as follows: Class 1 refers to BDUs with more than 6,000 subscribers, Class 2 includes BDUs that have between 2,000 and 6,000 subscribers and Class 3 encompasses BDUs with fewer than 2,000 subscribers.

[8] The three steps consisted of (a) identifying the relevant market; (b) determining whether the applicant has market power with respect to the relevant market; and (c) determining whether, and to what extent, forbearance should be granted.