CRTC imposes strict conditions on TQS transaction, to be revisited in 2011



    OTTAWA and GATINEAU, June 26 /CNW Telbec/ - The Canadian Radio-television
and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today approved, subject to certain
conditions, Remstar Diffusion inc.'s (Remstar) acquisition of the TQS Network
and television stations in Montreal, Quebec, Trois-Rivières, Sherbrooke and
Saguenay. The Commission has also renewed the licences of these stations until
2015, but will re-examine the programming commitments after three years.
    "Holding a licence to operate a conventional television station comes
with certain responsibilities and obligations, one of which is to provide
viewers with a significant amount of local news," said Konrad von
Finckenstein, Q.C., Chairman of the CRTC. "Remstar's proposal fell well short
of this requirement. In this case, we have taken into account TQS's precarious
financial situation and will allow, as a short-term measure and on an
exceptional basis, a reduced amount of local news. We fully expect that TQS's
situation will permit it to improve upon this amount within three years."
    The Commission has accepted Remstar's proposal to replace traditional
newscasts with a new concept that features local programming in which current
events are discussed and analyzed. At least two hours of local news will be
included as part of this programming each week in Montreal and Quebec.
    For the stations in Sherbrooke, Trois-Rivières and Saguenay, the CRTC is
requiring Remstar to increase its commitment to broadcast local news from
50 minutes each week to one hour. Over and above these amounts, Remstar will
have to broadcast at least 30 minutes of news programming every Saturday and
Sunday on all TQS-affiliated stations.
    While these amounts are much lower when compared to other conventional
television stations, the Commission recognizes that TQS has suffered, and
continues to suffer, important monetary losses. For this reason, it has
allowed for a temporary measure on an exceptional basis in order to give
Remstar an opportunity to improve TQS's financial situation.
    The CRTC will revisit the conditions relating to Remstar's news
programming commitments during a public hearing that will be held in spring
2011. At that time, the Commission will also reassess the issue of priority
programming and Remstar's plans for the transition from analog to digital
broadcasting.
    Today's decision follows a public process that included public hearings
held June 2 in Montreal, June 3 and 4 in Quebec, and June 12 in Gatineau.

    Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2008-129

    The CRTC

    The CRTC is an independent, public authority that regulates and
supervises broadcasting and telecommunications in Canada.

    Reference document: Broadcasting Notice of Public Hearing CRTC 2008-5

    
              Backgrounder on Remstar's acquisition of TQS inc.

    Remstar Diffusion inc. has acquired the following conventional television
stations:

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Province          Conventional television stations
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Quebec            CFJP-TV Montréal
                      -------------------------------------------------------
                      CFJP-DT Montréal
                      (Transitional digital station)
                      -------------------------------------------------------
                      CFAP-TV Québec
                      -------------------------------------------------------
                      CFRS-TV Saguenay
                      -------------------------------------------------------
                      CFKS-TV Sherbrooke
                      -------------------------------------------------------
                      CFKM-TV Trois-Rivières
                      -------------------------------------------------------
                      TQS Network
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Programming commitments

    With the conditions imposed by the Commission, TQS will broadcast, at a
minimum, the following amounts of programming:

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Location           Local Programming     Category 1 news(*)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Montreal           15 hours/week         2 hours/week
                                             30 min./Saturday and Sunday
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Quebec             10 hours/week         2 hours/week
                                             30 min./Saturday and Sunday
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Saguenay           1h30/week             1 hour/week
                                             30 min./Saturday and Sunday
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Sherbrooke         1h30/week             1 hour/week
                                             30 min./Saturday and Sunday
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Trois-Rivières     1h30/week             1 hour/week
                                             30 min./Saturday and Sunday
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (*)Category 1 news programming consists of newscasts, newsbreaks and
    headlines, as well as programs reporting on local, regional, national and
    international events. Such programs could include weather reports,
    sportscasts, community news and other related features or segments. Local
    news is considered as part of the total amount of local programming for
    the station where the programming originated.

    Local news programming

    The Commission previously observed that:

        The Broadcasting Act states that the Canadian broadcasting
        system should "encourage the development of Canadian expression
        by providing a wide range of programming that reflects
        Canadian attitudes, opinions, ideas, values and artistic creativity."
        The primary contribution by local stations to this objective, within
        their own communities, is the local news and information programming
        they produce. (Public Notice CRTC 1995-48)

    Additionally, in Building on Success - A Policy Framework for Canadian
Television (1999), the Commission announced that, at their next licence
renewals, conventional television stations would not be required to make
precise commitments regarding the broadcast of local news programs.
    However, licensees were required to demonstrate how they intended to meet
the demands, and reflect the particular concerns, of their audiences through
local news or other local programming. The Commission reserved the right to
impose specific conditions of licence should it determine that a licensee had
failed to respond to legitimate community needs.
    In the decision issued today, the CRTC stated that its view has not
changed. Local programming containing newscasts both on weekdays and the
weekend constitutes an essential part of the required programming.
    Furthermore, a conventional television station may not solicit local
advertising in a given market unless it provides local news or other local
programming. In this instance, TQS's programming plans will permit it to
continue selling local advertising in each market served by its stations.
    




For further information:

For further information: Media Relations: MediaRelations
(http://support.crtc.gc.ca/CRTCSubmissionMU/forms/Mediarelations.aspx?lang=e),
(819) 997-9403, Fax: (819) 997-4245; General Inquiries: (819) 997-0313, TDD:
(819) 994-0423, Fax: (819) 994-0218, Toll-free # 1-877-249-CRTC (2782), TDD -
Toll-free # 1-877-909-CRTC (2782), On-line services
(http://support.crtc.gc.ca/crtcsubmissionmu/forms/main.aspx?lang=e); These
documents are available in alternative format upon request.


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