Canada’s telecom regulator handed Sun News Network a partial victory on Thursday, announcing new rules for cable and satellite providers that will require them to offer the struggling news network to all subscribers.
All news channels will have to be offered as part of any news channel bundle they provide, as well as on an a-la-carte basis, the CRTC said.
The decision does not amount to what’s known as “mandatory carriage” — cable and satellite providers won’t have to offer it as part of their basic cable service, as Sun News had requested in an application to the CRTC that was rejected earlier this year.
Many consumers complained that they did not want to pay for a news channel they don't intend to watch. That will not happen under the CRTC's new rules.
“At a public hearing in the spring of 2013, the CRTC was made aware of the challenges facing all Canadian television news services, and particularly new entrants in this sector,” the CRTC said in a statement.
“These challenges were the sign of a systemic problem regarding the distribution of Canadian national news services on fair and commercially reasonable terms. The CRTC has acted quickly to address these challenges.”
While that’s good news for Sun Media, which had complained that some TV providers weren’t even offering its channel, it's unclear if it will be enough to immediately reverse the network's flagging fortunes.
The network had argued in CRTC hearings earlier this year that not being made a part of basic cable would be a “death sentence.” It noted that the CBC and CTV news channels enjoyed mandatory carriage in their early years. Neither of those channels are mandatory carriage today, though CBC’s French service is mandatory in English Canada, and vice versa.
The new rules come into effect on May 18, 2014.
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