CRTC rules on Sun News Network


OTTAWA - The CRTC has denied all but three requests for new "mandatory carriage" orders that would add the applicants to cable and satellite companies' basic service packages.

But the decision also lays out a proposal for a new category of licences for Canadian all-news channels, including the Sun News Network.

Kory Teneycke, vice-president of Sun News, says that means the fight for the plucky, upstart news channel continues.

"We are disappointed that the CRTC did not rule in favour of our application for a mandatory distribution order," Teneycke said. "However, we are encouraged they have found merit in the main arguments laid out by Sun News on price, channel placement and distribution, and have provided a mechanism to address these issues."

In its ruling the CRTC noted that Sun News raised several valid points during the regulator's hearings.

"The commission considers that there is merit to the arguments raised by Sun News regarding the barriers to entry when launching a national news service and that these barriers constitute a significant obstacle to the exchange of ideas," the CRTC said in its decision.

The broadcast regulator is asking for public comment over the next month on a proposed framework that includes forcing distributors to offer all Canadian national news services and put them in close proximity in their channel lineup, as well as offering national news services in a package and on a standalone basis.

"We intend to participate fully in those proceedings, and will continue to operate pending an outcome," Teneycke said.

The CRTC has promised to "act swiftly" to rewrite the rules, which would put Canadian news channels on a higher priority footing than foreign-owned news channels, such as CNN or Al Jazeera.

"Canadian news services should be given a pride of place within the multitude of news and information services available to Canadians," the CRTC's decision says.

The regulator also acknowledged that Sun News has been put at a disadvantage because "non-Canadian news services often receive higher per subscriber fees from distributors."

More than 50,000 people wrote to the CRTC in support of Sun News Network's "mandatory carriage" application.

The CRTC did grant mandatory carriage orders to the French version of AMI TV, which offers programming for the visually impaired, and the French-language Nouveau TV5.

The broadcast regulator also ordered TV services in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut to carry the channel that broadcasts those territories' legislative debates.

Quebecor Media owns Sun News Network, QMI Agency and the Sun Media newspaper chain.

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