While Sun News Network made news Monday after asking Canada’s broadcast regulator to ensure its signal gets broadcast into every Canadian home, it wasn’t the only one asking for special treatment.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission asked broadcasters to submit applications for mandatory carriage, which comes with a guarantee that Canada’s cable and satellite channels carry a channel. With it usually comes the promise of riches – because the networks get to charge a fee for every subscriber their signal potentially reaches.
The odds are against them: There are only 10 channels currently enjoying mandatory carriage, including Aboriginal Peoples Television Network and Cable Public Affairs Channel (CPAC). CBC News Network has the special status in French-language markets only, and its French-language counterpart RDI has it in English-language markets.
While some broadcasters, such as the channel that shows legislative hearings in Nunavut, applied for limited carriage within their geographic areas, others had more national ambitions. Here’s a summary of the services which want to blanket English Canada with their signals.
Aboriginal Peoples Television Network
What it wants: Already has mandatory carriage, but expires Aug. 31. Wants to increase fee to 40 cents from 25 cents.
What it does: The network said it wants to increase the frequency of its television newscasts and invest in original programming. “Before APTN there was no national presence for Aboriginal Peoples on television and, apart from APTN’s predecessor Television Northern Canada and a few programs on CBC North, virtually no presence of Aboriginal Peoples at all on Canadian television.”
Quote: “The key point is that without APTN, First Nations, Inuit and Metis Peoples would see next to nothing about themselves either in the television landscape – or in the extended multiplatform and mobile viewing environment that is now emerging. This is a serious concern – and it would be a concern for any people or culture. It is the reason APTN was first licensed as a national network with broad, mandatory national distribution to address.”
All Points Bulletin
What it wants: Already has mandatory carriage, wants to charge 6 cents a subscriber and expand out of Quebec into the rest of the country.
What it does: A crime-stopper type service intended to help police catch the bad guys.
Quote: “With planned regional offices across the country, APB will strive to make Canadian communities safer. The importance of this status is that it would ensure that all digital television distributors carry the channel and consequently make it available to the vast majority of Canadians.”
Cable Public Affairs Channel Inc.
What it wants: Already has mandatory carriage, but expires Aug. 31. Wants to increase fee to 12 cents from 10 cents. Wants the money to enhance its closed captioning services.
What it does: “Complete proceedings of the House of Commons and at other times coverage of political events, speeches and conferences.”
Quote: “CPAC cannot draw on other monies to meet the additional captioning requirement. CPAC cannot finance the additional cost without serious impact to the programming mandate.”
Education Through Media
What it wants: Up to 8 cents per subscriber
What it does: Wants to broadcast user-generated content, ranging in length from 30 minutes to an hour.
Quote: “The programming covers a wide range of topics and subject matter and provides a place for young adults to get connected and stay current. The service provides content directed to young adults and addresses a wide range of national and global issues, including technology, fashion, music, the environment, politics, sports and finance.”
Natural Resources Television
What it wants: No monthly fee, just mandatory carriage
What it does: Programming targeted at the natural resources industry in Canada. It already shows some programming, but would like to increase its offerings.
Quote: Despite the enormous importance of natural resources, there is little reflection of their importance on most Canadian television services. Moreover, a quick scan of channel lineups reveals that many other subject areas, that are of niche interest or much less important to the economic and social lives of Canadians, are the subject of one or more dedicated specialty channels – some of which are in basic packages or highly penetrated tiers.
On Purpose TV
What it wants: A licence and mandatory carriage, but no monthly fee
What it wants to do: Create a video-on-demand service that would offer more than the cable and satellite providers are currently offering.
Quote: “Over the last 30 years, the exponential growth in TV programming has proven one thing, consumers want and will support more choice. Yet the BDUs only provide a modest inventory based on mostly current TV series, movies and events. They provide only hundreds of hours when there are literally hundreds of thousands of hours the Canadian public would be interested in viewing.”
Starlight: The Canadian Movie Channel
What it wants: A new channel licence, and mandatory carriage at 45 cents per month per subscriber.
What it does: “… Programming will be entirely devoted to Canadian movies, particularly feature films intended for theatrical release, and will include Canadian feature films, Canadian feature documentaries, Canadian made-for-TV movies and programs with or about Canadian filmmakers. All feature films intended for theatrical distribution will be presented without commercial interruption.”
What it would do: Wants to spend 70 per cent of its revenue on Canadian programming, fully financing up to 12 Canadian feature films a year. Its owners are a who’s-who of Canadian film, headed by superstar producer Robert Lantos.
Quote: “The Hollywood model that no one has ever put into place in Canada before. Each of these movies will be specifically highlighted and premiered on the channel in the heart of prime time. At the same time, the channel will provide additional exposure and return to existing Canadian movies and their makers.”
Sun News Network
What it wants: 18 cents a subscriber and a good slot on the dial
What it does: Canadian news, with a conservative twist
Quote: “Gone are the days of boring talking heads and tired talking points. Debate on Sun News has lived up to its promise of being raw and edgy. Love them or hate them, our hosts and commentators swing for the fences every night.”
Stornoway Communications Limited Partnership
What it wants: 32 cents per English subscriber to create a new service
What it wants to do: Wants to offer “multi-platform live interactive information programming. In other words, current affairs programming targeted at youth.
Quote: “Offer multi-platform live interactive (between professionals and citizens) information (current affairs, reporting and actualities) programming that deals with local, regional, national and international matters of interest to Canadians with a focus on youth and local reflection.
Takten Gyurmey Foundation
What it wants: 25 cents to create a new service
What it wants to do: Would create a service called EqualiTV that would create programming targeted at disabled Canadians.
Quote: “Mandatory carriage is essential to ensure equal access to such people with special needs, the poorest sector of our society, and who are also the one most severely underrepresented in the media, despite being assured equality of representation in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
What it wants: 12 cents a month
What it wants to do: Expand its interfaith religious broadcasting across the country.
Quote: “The only way for an independent broadcaster such as Vision TV to remain an important alternative point of view and voice for Canada is through CRTC intervention and regulation.”