OTTAWA - The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission announced several changes Thursday that will significantly alter how much made-in-Canada content is beamed onto TVs across the country. Here's a quick rundown of some of the new measures announced by the regulator:
— Broadcasters will no longer be forced to air Canadian content during the day, but they must continue to set aside at least half of their prime-time schedules to programs originating from Canada.
— Canadian video-on-demand services will have the option of offering their own exclusive content, as long as it's available online, across the country and without a cable or satellite subscription.
— The regulator will no longer protect the genres of specialty channels, like HGTV Canada. This means new specialty channels within the same genre are free to enter the marketplace to compete with existing stations.
— To ensure viewers are aware of original Canadian programs, the CRTC is calling for more advertising time to be dedicated to promoting these programs on a daily basis.
— The CRTC will ask the cable and satellite industry to create a working group that will produce an "audience measurement system" using the channel-surfing data collected by set-top boxes used by subscribers. The data, the regulator says, could help broadcasters do a better job of giving viewers the programming they want and improve scheduling decisions.