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News | 07/04/2006 4:00 am EDT

Bell BDUs ask for local avails relief as well
As anticipated after the CRTC gave the green light to three BDUs applying to use a portion of local avails for cross-promoting non-broadcast services, more distributors have stepped forward asking for similar permission. Both Bell Canada and Bell ExpressVu have asked for their conditions of licence to be amended to allow for more liberal use of local avails – the approximately two minutes per hour of airtime set aside on certain American satellite programming services for use by distributors in the US. The current conditions for both the cable and DTH BDUs require that at least 75% of the avail time be used to promote licensed Canadian programming services or to distribute unpaid Canadian public service announcements and community channel promotions. Up to 25% – the portion in question – may be used by BDUs to promote programming services and packages, customer service information, channel realignments, cable FM service and additional cable outlets. In Public Notice 2006-69, Rogers Cable Communications Inc., Shaw Communications Inc. and Bragg Communications Inc. were given dispensation to use a share of that 25% of local avails more broadly, beyond just promoting programming-related products, services and information. Now, the three BDUs can use part of that 25% to promote their own or third-party high-speed Internet services, wireline and wireless telephony, and other non-programming offerings. Bell is asking for the same treatment for both its national satellite DTH BDU, and the cable BDU it operates serving areas in southwestern and eastern Ontario, as well as four cities in Quebec – Montréal, Gatineau, Sherbrooke, Québec City – and their surrounding areas.

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