Verdict is finalized: No HBO/ESPN channels in Canada!
CRTC nixes U.S. TV channels
By JOHN WARD
Friday, November 7, 2003
OTTAWA -- Broadcasters and specialty TV channel operators breathed easier Friday after federal regulators denied a request to allow cable companies to import popular and lucrative American channels such as HBO and ESPN.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission said Friday the cable industry hadn't made a strong enough case for bringing in the services.
The Canadian Cable Television Association said it was disappointed, but broadcasters were relieved.
Glenn O'Farrell, president of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, said The Movie Channel and TSN might have been hard hit if the decision had gone the other way.
"It's hard to imagine how any of those Canadian services would have been able to continue to acquire program rights for broadcast in Canada when those American services would have been broadcasting those programs directly," he said.
In June, the cable operators told the CRTC that allowing the import of more U.S. channels would help fight satellite piracy and boost the struggling digital operators.
They worried about the fate of the digital cable companies. They are now two years old, but reach only about a fifth of Canadian TV households.
Broadcasters worried, too, that Canadian networks that re-broadcast popular U.S. shows such as Oz, Sex in the City and the Sopranos would have been badly undercut.
The Sopranos, which runs on HBO, airs on Canadian pay channels a few days or weeks after the U.S. broadcast and hits CTV a year later.
The cable association, however, said thousands of people already pirate these programs.
The CRTC said allowing the import of new channels would make it harder for Canadian services to buy the rights to foreign productions.
"The loss of revenues generated by such foreign programs could result in a decrease in the production and broadcast of Canadian programming," the commission said in its decision.
O'Farrell, spokesman for the majority of the country's private broadcasters, said Canadian viewers already get the bulk of the U.S. programming that would have been imported if the application had been upheld.
Allowing direct imports would have cost viewers more, he said.
"So I don't think it was very consumer friendly at all."
He added that arguments by the carriers that the plan would have helped reduce satellite TV piracy in Canada was "absolutely disingenuous and frankly very poorly considered."
The cable operators said they'll keep pushing the issue, saying it's a matter of consumer choice.
"We believe that supplying consumers what they want, when they want, is critical to the future success of the Canadian broadcasting system and Canada's continued leadership in broadband," said Michael Hennessy, acting president of the association.
~Sunflower~ is also known as Sharky
0011..Eternal follower of the Golden Girl
Last edited by Sharky; Nov 8th, 2003 at 07:25 AM.