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Canada announces Framework for 'Over-The-Air Digital Television Services'
By Jon Newton,
(more articles from this author)
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Music Industry News - as it happens
Source: Mi2N - June 13, 2002

Canada's independent public Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has announced its regulatory framework for the transition to digital over-the-air television and has asked for public feedback on proposed policies to govern how digital broadcast services should be distributed by cable, satellite and wireless undertakings.

DTV will eventually replace the current analog over-the-air broadcasting system, says the CRTC, going on that its policy framework will guide broadcasters, distributors and producers through the transition to digital with the aim of ensuring that:

* Canadians will benefit from these technological advances to the fullest possible extent.
* The Canadian broadcasting industry will be encouraged to grow and strengthen.
* The transition will not be slowed by unnecessary regulation.
* The Broadcasting Act's cultural objectives will be maintained.

"This framework will allow broadcasters to make the transition to digital voluntarily, without imposed deadlines," it states. "Viewers will continue to have access to all of their over-the-air analog services throughout the transition period. Consumers will be able to upgrade their equipment at their own pace and convenience."

It lists framework highlights as:

The transition will be market-driven. The CRTC will not impose deadlines for the transition. Instead, broadcaster investment and consumer demand will dictate the rate at which the upgrade to digital broadcasting will occur.

Universal access
Broadcasters will be encouraged to construct new digital transmitters that will provide full off-air coverage to match their existing analog coverage. Broadcasters will also be expected to maintain their existing analog coverage in full throughout the transition period. Canadians will continue to have free universal access to over-the-air television during the transition.

Existing broadcasters protected
Existing broadcasters will be given the first opportunity to apply for licences to broadcast digitally, but if they fail to do so in a reasonable amount of time, the CRTC will consider other applicants for the relevant frequencies.

Canadian content
Transitional digital licences will authorize broadcasters to offer a certain amount of programming not offered on their analog transmitters up to 14 hours per week - on their digital transmitters, provided that it is high definition and that at least half of it is Canadian.

High definition
The CRTC is confident that requiring all of the separate programming to be in high definition will help create consumer demand for the new digital services. And stipulating that at least half of it must be Canadian will assist the country's production industry during the transition to digital.

The CRTC adds, "As further encouragement, all Canadian digital programs aired by licensees between 6 p.m. and 12 p.m. will have to be high-definition where such a version exists. Broadcasters should also ensure that, by the end of December 2007, two thirds of their schedules are available in the high definition format."

Related News from Mi2N:
» CRTC Announces Its Regulatory Framework For The Transition To Over-The-Air Digital Television Services

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