Canadian Group Opposes XM, Sirius Licensing

    June 17, 2005
    WebProNews Staff

A recent decision by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission will be appealed by a self-proclaimed media watchdog group.

The Friends of Canadian Broadcasting have blasted the ruling that will allow the two American-based satellite companies to begin marketing their services via Canadian partners.

The group plans to join a number of arts organizations in appealing the decision, according to a press release.

“The CRTC got it wrong (Thursday). This decision does not reflect the legal requirement that Canadian broadcasters must offer homegrown programs. Today’s decision creates a pipeline for U.S. radio programs direct to Canada, with little in return for our country,” says Friends spokesperson Ian Morrison.

Others who came out against the announcement include the Canadian Recording Industry Association, and ACTRA, the national performers’ union.

“The CRTC has yet again shown it’s prepared to allow our broadcasting system to be dominated by pre-packaged foreign programming,” said Stephen Waddell, ACTRA’s national executive director.

Under the ruling, the two satellite radio providers would each have to offer the following content:

  1. At least eight original channels produced in Canada. A maximum of nine foreign channels may be offered for each Canadian channel.
  2. At least 85 per cent of the musical selections and spoken word programming broadcast on the Canadian channels must be Canadian.
  3. At least 25 per cent of the Canadian channels must be in the French language.
  4. At least 25 per cent of the musical selections on the Canadian channels must be new Canadian music.
  5. A further 25 per cent of the selections must be by emerging Canadian artists.

But Friends says that will only provide a minimal number of channels compared to the overall offerings of Sirius and XM. And the Canadian Association of Broadcasters worries that subscription radio will compete with broadcast radio. That assertion will likely be proved correct, since they would indeed be competing.

The Canadian partners seem unconcerned. Said Canadian Satellite Radio bid executive John Bitove: “We could almost ask all of the bankers and brokers to take a number at the door on proposals (for an IPO).”

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.