Weather-obsessed Canadians with basic cable rejoice – the Weather Network is guaranteed a channel on televisions across the country for another six years after the federal regulator opted to extend the channel’s mandatory distribution contract.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission said Tuesday the channel must be included in all basic television packages until September, 2018, provided it spends $1-million a year “educating the public on and increasing public awareness” of its weather warning system.
The channel’s owners – Pelmorex Communications Inc. – also agreed to modify the system to allow emergency management organizations to confirm their alerts have been received by the station and are being transmitted to viewers.
The broadcaster applied for an extension in July, and the CRTC was flooded with letters of support from viewers. The plan hinged on the station being an aggregator for regional weather warnings, a task often handled by local television stations.
As part of the deal, the channel agreed to introduce three new local feeds for British Columbia, Alberta and a third undetermined region and hire 12 full-time equivalent workers by the end of 2012.
“The commission received over 4,000 interventions in support of this application by members of the public, broadcasters, broadcasting distribution undertakings, public officials, and public safety stakeholders,” the CRTC wrote.
Shaw Communications Inc., Quebecor Media Inc., Cogeco Cable Inc. and Rogers Communications Inc., Bell Alliant Regional Communications and Bell Canada objected to the extension, arguing that the CRTC should wait until the previous deal expired in 2015.