The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Decima Reports.
On the 40th anniversary of Astral Media, president and chief executive officer Ian Greenberg said one essential element of the pure play media company’s brand was its commitment to Montreal and Quebec. The company has 1,400 employees, 800 of them based in Montreal. Speaking March 19 before the Montreal Board of Trade, he called for continued government support, buoyed by more efforts at educating a skilled workforce, to keep the Quebec industry thriving. Below is an edited excerpt of his speech.
At the CRTC, Anne-Marie Murphy has been appointed to the new position of special advisor to the chair for six months. Replacing Murphy in her previous position as director of broadcasting operations on an interim basis is Robert Ramsay. Lyne Rénaud becomes acting director of the acquisitions and ownership policy section, the position formerly held by Ramsay.
More cablecos apply for basic cable rate deregulation
Cogeco Cable Inc. has filed an application with the CRTC for basic cable rate deregulation for its systems in the Quebec regions of Alma, Sainte-Adèle, Baie-Comeau, Drummondville, Grand-Mère, Magog, Rimouski, Sept-Iles and St.-Hyacinthe, as well as its system in Kingston ON. Previously, the company had remained tight-lipped about its plans for rate deregulation (CCR, Dec. 19/01). Also, Monarch Cablesystems Ltd. has applied for rate deregulation for Medicine Hat AB. Other companies that have filed applications are Vidéotron ltée (CCR, Jan. 31/02), Rogers Cable Inc. (CCR Dec. 6/01; CCR, Oct. 11/01) and Regional Cablesystems Inc. (CCR, Oct. 11/01). Shaw Communications Inc. president Peter Bissonnette told CCR that his company had no plans to file for deregulation (CCR, Dec. 6/01), but in a news release announcing financials this week, the Calgary-based cableco indicates plans to file for deregulation.
A landmark tariff set by the Copyright Board of Canada this month for pay audio services will take a bite out of profits of Canada’s two providers, and has left industry players scratching their heads about the rationale behind the rate. The tariff – the first ever for pay audio services – will cost Canadian Broadcasting Corp.’s Galaxie and Corus Entertainment Inc.’s DMX Music combined between $100,000 and $125,000 per month in copyright royalty payments this year.
The president and CEO of the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. remains leery that Canada’s private broadcasters could ever fill the shoes of the public broadcaster in creating domestic programming. Robert Rabinovitch doesn’t buy claims by the private broadcasting industry that it is working toward a system pillared on the production of Canadian content.
The CRTC will play a crucial role in ensuring a viable broadcasting system – at least during a transition period, according to a vision of the future of Canadian broadcasting put forward by Canada’s private broadcasters. Many of the recommendations promoted by the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) during a recent appearance before the Canadian Heritage Parliamentary committee studying the relevance of the Broadcasting Act involved the broadcast regulator.
Vidéotron ltée competitors in Quebec say they have been forced to cease efforts to acquire customers in multiple-unit dwellings (MUDs) in the province because of hefty fees for the use of inside wiring. Vidéotron’s sister company Câblage QMI Inc. (CQMI) is attempting to charge $5 per subscriber per month – an amount significantly higher than the 44 cents proposed by the CRTC in an ongoing process to set rates for third-party use of inside wiring.
The Toronto businessman behind repeated failed bids for an analog multicultural television licence says he’ll take the matter to Canada’s highest court if the CRTC decides to open up the licensing process to other parties. That’s one of the options available to the commission as it reconsiders its December 2001 decision to award only a Category 2 digital specialty TV licence to World Television Network/Le Réseau Télémonde Inc. (WTM).
Little to no consensus on Internet retransmission has emerged even in the wake of a compromise draft position put forward by the federal government. On March 19, the departments of Canadian Heritage and Industry Canada circulated a consultation document to industry stakeholders for feedback, titled Retransmission Conditions Regulations, which spells out several options for defining Bill C-48, the government bill to amend the retransmission section (Section 31) of the Copyright Act.