The CRTC has declared broadband internet access a basic service for all Canadians

CRTC

The CRTC has declared broadband internet access a basic service for all Canadians, a decision that could pave the way for universal access to high-speed service in remote, northern and rural areas. The commission set new speed targets of 50 megabits per second (Mbps) download/10 Mbps upload for fixed broadband Internet access services. It also wants to see an unlimited data option for fixed broadband services and the latest mobile wireless technology available not only in homes and businesses, but along major Canadian roads. The CRTC is establishing a $750M fund over five years to support projects in areas that do not meet these targets.

Manitoba Telecom Services Inc. (MTS) has received CRTC approval to transfer its Broadcasting Distribution Undertaking (BDU) licences to Bell Canada. The decision is the first of three regulatory approvals required to complete the closing of BCE’s acquisition of MTS, expected in early 2017. The transfer of the terrestrial broadcasting licence enables the rollout in Winnipeg and other locations of Bell Fibe TV. Bell announced the $3.9-billion MTS transaction on May 2, and a five-year, $1 billion plan to roll out new broadband network infrastructure and next-generation services – including Fibe TV, Gigabit Fibe Internet and LTE wireless services from Bell Mobility – across Manitoba.

The Bell Let’s Talk Day 2017 awareness campaign began Boxing Day on multiple TV networks, online and Jan. 2 in Cineplex and Guzzo theatres and at Hot Docs. TV and online videos feature six-time Olympic medallist Clara Hughes and Bell Let’s Talk spokespeople Howie Mandel, Marie-Soleil Dion, Serena Ryder, Michael Landsberg, Michel Mpambara, Stefie Shock, Mary Walsh and Étienne Boulay speaking candidly about their own personal experiences with mental illness and recovery. The campaign prompts Canadians to send a Bell Let’s Talk message of support on Jan. 25 and Bell will donate five cents to mental health programs. 2016’s record saw 126 million messages sent and a $6.3M Bell donation.

RTDNA Canada will expand its awards for 2017. The association says the move addresses concerns from members around the increasing importance of digital; the creation of network awards for categories previously limited to the regions; and recognition of the growing importance of live network sports programming. The new awards are: Editorial Commentary – Network; Live Special Events – Digital; Sports Feature – Network; and Sports – Live Special Events, with a Network category for digital, radio and TV.

Pierre Morrissette

The latest appointees to the Order of Canada include broadcasters Pierre Morrissette and David Onley. Morrissette is the founder, chairman and CEO of Pelmorex Media Inc., which operates The Weather Network and MeteoMedia. David Onley was the 28th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario and a former television journalist. He began his career hosting a weekly science show for CFRB-AM Toronto before joining the CKO radio news network and City, starting as a weather specialist and moving into roles as a news anchor and host. He was one of Canada’s first on-air television personalities with a visible disability, using a mobility device due to paralysis.

Canada’s telecom stocks are expected to be under more pressure in 2017, according to the annual outlook report from Desjardins Capital Markets. Analysts predict interest rate volatility and continued challenges in TV, including the increased move to online video streaming, will create higher risk. Desjardins has lowered price targets for Bell ($64.50 from $67.50), Rogers ($57.50 from $61) and Telus ($49 from $50).

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) has concluded Game TV should only have broadcast the David Cronenberg film Eastern Promises after 9 p.m., with detailed advisories and an 18+ classification due to the violence, sex, coarse language and mature themes. Game TV broadcast the film at 8 p.m. ET on June 9, 2016 with viewer advisories alerting to the violence, coarse language and mature themes, but no classification icon. The CBSC received a complaint from a viewer who lived in the Pacific time zone and therefore saw the broadcast at 5 p.m.

The CBSC has found that a KiSS FM (CISS-FM) Ottawa host clearly left the impression contest rules had not been followed, violating the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Code of Ethics. The cue-to-text contest was entitled Big Bag of Cash with each contestant to be chosen randomly. On March 21, the host told one contestant she had chosen her text message because she liked the emoticons in it. After a listener complained, the station says its investigation found the contestant had in fact been randomly selected. The host had only said she picked the emoticon message to provide an entertaining intro to the segment.