THE Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) on Monday issued a competitive call for applications for a new television service offering national multilingual and multi-ethnic programming including news and information. If licensed, this service would receive mandatory distribution on the digital basic service starting in 2020.

The CRTC said that it recognizes, however, that there is an exceptional and immediate need for Canada’s ethnically diverse communities to have access to multilingual programming, and in particular news and information programming, made from a Canadian perspective, without having to pay for additional services and packages.

As an interim measure, the CRTC has approved the licensing and mandatory distribution of OMNI Regional, a multilingual, multi-ethnic service, on all digital basic television packages in Canada. The CRTC is concerned, however, that this service as proposed by Rogers Media will not fully meet the needs of Canadians. For this reason, OMNI Regional is receiving mandatory distribution for a three-year period only.

OMNI Regional will not necessarily be renewed after the interim period. An application will have to be submitted in order to be considered in the competitive public process.

Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman and CEO, CRTC, said: “Canada’s ethnic and third-language communities do not have access to enough news and information programming in multiple languages from a Canadian perspective. By approving the licensing and mandatory distribution of OMNI Regional, we are addressing a pressing need. However, our standards for nationwide mandatory distribution are high. Rogers will have to remedy the shortcomings of their OMNI service and compete with other applicants to have the privilege of reaching Canadians across the country.”

 

Quick Facts

 

* Rogers submitted a request to operate a multilingual, multi-ethnic service as part of its licence renewal application.
* Programming on OMNI Regional will be divided in four feeds, representing the programming in which OMNI has local stations: British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario. The fourth feed, distributed in the province of Quebec, will be supplied by ICI Quebec.
* The CRTC is welcoming applications for a new national multilingual and multi-ethnic service until August 18, 2017.
* When evaluating applications for mandatory distribution, the CRTC takes into consideration a variety of specific criteria including whether the service:
– serves to safeguard, enrich and strengthen the cultural, political, social and economic fabric of Canada.
– is drawn from local, regional, national and international sources.
– reflects and contributes to Canada’s linguistic duality and ethno-cultural diversity, including – the special place of Aboriginal peoples in Canadian society.
– The CRTC published on Monday its licence renewal decisions for all of the large television groups.