The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Decima Reports.
Liza Frulla was named minister of Canadian Heritage and minister responsible for the Status of Women in prime minister Paul Martin’s Cabinet announced July 20. David Emerson was appointed as minister of Industry. Jerry Pickard was named Parliamentary secretary to the minister of industry and Sarmite Bulte was named Parliamentary secretary to Frulla. Emerson has been named to the following Cabinet committees: Treasury Board (mandates the government’s financial, personnel and administrative responsibilities), Expenditure Review Subcommittee of the Treasury Board (reviews all programs and areas of cross-cutting interest and makes recommendations to the Treasury Board on funding decisions and reallocations), Domestic Affairs (considers, in an integrated manner, social, economic and environmental policy issues), and Canada-U.S. (ensures an integrated, government-wide approach to Canada-U.S. relations). Frulla is on the two Parliamentary committees: Operations (provides day-to-day coordination of the implementation of the government’s agenda, including policy, House planning, urgent issues and communications) and Domestic Affairs. The NDP has named writer, broadcaster and musician Charlie Angus as Heritage critic, and Brian Masse to the Industry, Science and Technology position in its shadow Cabinet. The Tories have named Bev Oda as their Heritage critic, and James Rajotte as Industry critic. The Bloc Québecois has not yet named its shadow Cabinet.
CRTC considers mandatory order over Star Choice dispute
The CRTC is considering issuing a mandatory order that would force direct-to-home (DTH) satellite TV distributor Star Choice Television Network Inc. to pay overdue wholesale rate payments of more than $1 million to MusiquePlus Inc. (Broadcasting Notice of Public Hearing 2004-7). The matter will be considered at a public hearing on September 7 in Gatineau PQ. As of February 2004, Star Choice was in arrears to MusiquePlus by $1.12 million, according to the broadcaster. It was Star Choice that on May 1, 2003 asked the CRTC to resolve a dispute between it and MusiquePlus, the licensee of two French-language specialty services, MusiMax and MusiquePlus. The dispute concerned the wholesale rate payments owed and payable by Star Choice to MusiquePlus in both the Quebec market and the rest of Canada between the periods of July 31, 2001 to August 31, 2003, and September 1, 2003 and August 31, 2006. Both parties were asked to submit final offers with rationale to the CRTC. On December 23, 2003, the CRTC chose the offer submitted by MusiquePlus, but considered the proposal to begin July 31, 2001, the date marking the beginning of the period upon which the commission’s determination had been sought, rather than September 1, 2000 as the starting date for the wholesale rate payments. Alleging that Star Choice failed to make wholesale rate payments in compliance with the CRTC decision, MusiquePlus requested that the regulator issue a mandatory order to Star Choice, pursuant to subsection 12(2) of the Broadcasting Act.
Applicants for an as-yet-unawarded subscription satellite radio services licence are opposing a related royalty tariff filed by the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN) with the Copyright Board of Canada. To the extent that the proposed tariff purports to cover services such as CHUM Subscription Radio Canada (CSRC), a licence for which is still under consideration, CHUM objects on the "the basis that (the proposed royalties) are excessive and unreasonable." CHUM also notes that "the proposed tariff rate is almost an order of magnitude higher than the most recently approved tariff for radio (Tariff 1A), a service most analogous to CSRC."
CHUM Ltd. has pledged an overwhelmingly high amount of Canadian content for its proposed subscription satellite radio service compared to that offered up by two U.S. applicants with Canadian partners. Is there room for three subscription radio operators in Canada? Probably not, so the regulator will be left to sift through a mountain of paperwork in an attempt to determine which one, or perhaps two, of the applicants deserve the green light, and the amount of Canadian content proposed for each of the services will likely be a factor.