Federal Cabinet rules against broadcasters in fight on contribution regime  Telesat Canada’s broadcasting revenue is not exempt from the current contribution regime, the federal Cabinet ruled today, striking down an appeal to the Governor in Council by several broadcasting interests. The Canadian Association of Broadcasters, the Canadian Satellite Users’ Association, and Star Choice Television Network Inc. filed the petition last August in response to a May 2001 CRTC decision denying a Telesat Review and Vary application – Order 2001-435 (NL, Oct. 10/01). The groups argued in their appeal that it was unfair to require broadcasting interests to help subsidize local telephone service in rural and remote regions of Canada, particularly since telecom companies don’t pay to support broadcasting objectives. They also argued that the appeal was not about exempting Telesat from the purview of the contribution order, as the wireless industry contended. "The petition acknowledges that when broadcasters engage in telecommunications activities they will be subject to the decision as much as wireless service providers and others," the groups pointed out in their March 8, 2002 reply comments to the Cabinet. "What they seek is a recognition that revenue for services provided to them by Telesat exclusively in support of their regulated broadcasting activities constitute ‘Canadian non-telecommunications service revenue’ for purposes of Decision 2000-745," the groups wrote in March. The appeal by the broadcasters was strongly opposed by the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, Telus Communications Inc., and Sasktel. The federal Cabinet ultimately decided that it wasn’t in the public’s interest to reverse the decision, vary it or refer Order 2001-435 back to the CRTC. "In reaching its decision, the government noted that the order is consistent with government policies to ensure the availability of affordable and reliable telecommunications services throughout Canada and to foster competition in the provision of telecommunications services," the federal government stated today in a release. The CRTC has set the 2002 contribution rate at 1.4 per cent of telecom revenues, a significant decrease over the 4.5 per cent interim rate applied in 2001. (For additional background on this story, see the June 11/01 and Oct. 15/01 editions of Network Letter affiliate publication Report on Wireless).