Canadian TV Regulator Wins New Power to Fine Rogue Companies

The CRTC takes first-time aim with monetary penalties, something the FCC does regularly stateside

The CRTC, Canada's TV and telco regulator, has earned first-time powers to slap fines of up to $10 million on offending cable and telco players.

The move follows passage of an amended Bill C-43 into law last week. "Monetary penalties are an addition to our toolkit," said CRTC chair Jean-Pierre Blais in a statement on Wednesday.

The regulator until now has been able to order rogue broadcasters to air announcements that they have breached regulations with offending programming, much of it from the U.S. market, or face seeing their broadcast licenses shortened or pulled. The CRTC last year threatened to pull domestic broadcaster Corus Entertainment’s broadcast license for the Canadian version of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network after it apparently strayed from an original educational mandate.

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The CRTC earlier tackled Howard Stern and The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers for similarly breaching industry codes.

Blais touted fines as a middle-way to ensuring compliance with CRTC decisions or regulations under the Telecommunications Act. The move to get the CRTC in step with the FCC is part of a consumer-first agenda by the ruling Conservatives in Ottawa that has seen the regulator consider imposing pick-and-pay cable unbundling on domestic carriers.

Such a move has implications for the U.S. market should American suppliers of popular primetime series like The Walking Dead and Homeland no longer see their offerings bundled on high-penetration tiers, or Canada embracing pick-and-pay cable pricing setting a controversial precedent for U.S. TV and telco players.

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