General + Regulatory + Telecom + Media NewsRegulatory, Telecom & Media News - CRTC grants regulatory relief for Corus,...

Regulatory, Telecom & Media News – CRTC grants regulatory relief for Corus, TVA, APTN

The CRTC has approved a request from Corus Entertainment for regulatory relief on “an exceptional basis,” allowing it to shift some of its Canadian programming spending away from programs of national interest (PNI). The decision reduces Corus’ requirement related to expenditures on PNI from 8.5% to 5% of the previous broadcast year’s gross revenues; and extends its Canadian programming expenditure (CPE) under-expenditure repayment deadline beyond the end of the licence term. The commission noted in a separate letter that applications from other large television broadcast groups – including Quebecor, Rogers and Bell – seeking changes in condition of service, are being denied at this juncture and will be considered as part of an upcoming consultation on broader policy matters. That includes other aspects of regulatory relief sought by Corus. Read more here.

The CRTC is committed to lessening the impact of the “headwinds” facing Canadian broadcasters, Nirmala Naidoo, the commissioner for Alberta and the Northwest Territories, told the BC Association of Broadcasters (BCAB) last week. Addressing the group’s 74th annual conference the day after the release of the commission’s updated regulatory plan to modernize the country’s broadcasting framework, Naidoo outlined an ongoing series of consultations working towards an end goal of building a flexible regulatory system that can adapt to disruption. As implementation of the Online Streaming Act moves forward, a consultation will explore new ways to fund participation of groups that represent the public interest. She told the gathering that consultation will be followed by another on structural relationships in the broadcasting sector, including a public hearing looking at small, medium and large players in both traditional broadcasting and online streaming. Others will encompass studying all aspects of radio and audio streaming services in Canada, including how to support the industry and Canadian music, how to define audio content, and what regulatory obligations should exist. Read more here.

The CRTC has granted Quebecor Media’s application, on behalf of TVA Group, for regulatory relief for CFCM-DT Québec and its news requirements. TVA argued that the Québec station has higher requirements than other private broadcasters and decreasing revenues, mainly due to competition from foreign undertakings. TVA will continue to broadcast five hours and 30 minutes per week of news produced in Québec, but will be able to determine the most appropriate time for broadcasting its newscasts. It will no longer be required to broadcast two newscasts produced in Québec on weekends. The number of hours of local programming required for the Québec station will be reduced from 18 to 16 hours per week; and will no longer have to broadcast a certain number of hours of other programs reflecting the region. The commission says the changes will give the licensee greater flexibility while maintaining the number of hours of local news produced by the station, enabling it to maintain a production centre in Québec.

The CRTC has approved APTN’s request to amend its conditions of service. APTN says the decision marks a significant milestone in the network’s mission to enhance services and content for viewers by consolidating its four distinct feeds into two channels available to the vast majority of cable and Direct-to-home (DTH) satellite broadcasting subscribers within Canada. The primary APTN channel will operate on a unified broadcast schedule featuring programming in both English and French, while APTN Languages will focus on Indigenous-language programming. The commission approved APTN’s application in full, also increasing its mandatory per subscriber monthly wholesale rate from $0.35 to $0.38.

Catherine Tait

CBC/Radio-Canada President Catherine Tait says the public broadcaster’s financial situation has improved since it announced budget-related cuts in March. Tait told the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage that last December’s estimated shortfall of $125 million for fiscal 2024-25 has been reduced to about $20 million, thanks to significant cuts to operational costs, the elimination of 205 vacant positions and 141 employee positions, and an additional $42 million investment in the recent federal budget. “This will allow us to maintain our services and to manage this year without further job cuts to balance our budget,” said Tait. “But to be clear, we are not out of the woods. You have heard it from other witnesses. All Canadian media organizations face serious challenges from a digital world ruled by global players who simply do not share the same commitment to our country’s interests.”

Canadian Heritage has announced the appointment of an Advisory Committee to provide policy advice on how to strengthen and renew CBC/Radio-Canada. The committee is composed of seven experts who will contribute their knowledge and experience from a variety of fields, including Marie-Philippe Bouchard, CEO, TV5; Jesse Wente, Chair of the Canada Council for the Arts, founding Executive Director of the Indigenous Screen Office; Jennifer McGuire, Managing Director, Pink Triangle Press; David Skok, CEO and Editor-in-Chief, The Logic; Mike Ananny, Associate Professor of Communication and Journalism, University of Southern California Annenberg; Loc Dao, Executive Director of DigiBC; and Catalina Briceno, Professor, Université du Québec à Montréal. The committee will meet regularly with the minister to discuss a range of questions dealing with funding, governance and mandate.

RDS unionized employees have voted 65% in favour of discussion with the employer to try to limit the impact of Bell Media’s intention to eliminate between 25 and 35 positions in the technical department of the sports network. The Union of Sports Network Employees, Technical Section (SERDS) says its collective agreement is only a year and a half old, in which it obtained the creation of 25 new positions. 

Quebecor has reported its consolidated financial results for the first quarter of 2024, recording revenues of $1.36 billion, up $247.2 million (22.2%), adjusted EBITDA of $559.5 million, up $116.7 million (26.4%), and adjusted cash flows from operations of $419.0 million, up $73.0 million (21.1%) compared with the same period in 2023. The Telecommunications segment increased its revenues by $254.5 million (27.5%), its adjusted EBITDA by $101.3 million (21.4%), and its adjusted cash flows from operations by $63.1 million (16.6%) in the first quarter of 2024, reflecting, among other things, the contribution of the Freedom Mobile acquisition in 2023. TVA Group recorded a $6.9 million (‑5.1%) decrease in revenues and a $4.7 million favourable variance in adjusted EBITDA compared with the first quarter of 2023. The Sports and Entertainment segment’s revenues decreased by $1.8 million (‑3.7%) and its adjusted EBITDA increased by $0.5 million (14.7%) in Q1.

TELUS has released its unaudited results for the first quarter of 2024. Consolidated operating revenues and other income decreased by 0.6% over the same period a year ago to $4.9 billion, driven by lower service revenues at TELUS technology solutions (TTech) and Digitally-led customer experiences – TELUS International (DLCX). Total Mobile and Fixed customer growth of 209,000 was up 46,000 over last year, the strongest first quarter on record, driven by strong demand for Mobility and Fixed services. 

Darren Entwistle

TELUS President and CEO Darren Entwistle will take his entire salary in shares for the foreseeable future. The company says his decision to forego his cash salary in favour of shares demonstrates confidence in the financial health of the organization and its long-term strategy, building upon the six years, from 2010 through 2015, that he previously took the entirety of his salary in shares. In 2023, Entwistle purchased 395,843 common shares and held a total of 799,209 TELUS common shares at the end of the year, approximately 12 times his base salary in share ownership.


The Canadian Telecommunications Association is welcoming new legislation imposing new offences in the Criminal Code for sabotaging essential communications infrastructure. Tabled in the House of Commons on May 6, the association says Bill C-70, an Act respecting countering foreign interference, addresses a significant legal gap. While addressing acts of sabotage intended to endanger the safety, security or defence of Canada, it does not address the increased vandalism and theft disrupting telecommunications services, including stealing copper wire for resale as scrap metal, or deliberate attempts to damage telecom equipment.

George Stroumboulopoulos & BCAB President Rob Brimacombe

OP-ED: What does the intersection of career success, authenticity and happiness look like? Rob Brimacombe writes that he’s closer to the answer thanks to the 2024 BC Association of Broadcasters’ Conference, George Stroumboulopoulos, Willy Percy and John Lennon. Read the BCAB president’s takeaways from the conference’s “Conversation with a Legend” here.

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