CRTC rescinds Canyon TV license approval

TV regulator says Canyon does not have Canadian residency

TORONTO -- Canada's TV regulator giveth, and taketh away.

Canadian broadcaster Warren Walson learned that hard lesson when the CRTC, the country's broadcast regulator, rescinded an earlier decision to award his Calgary-based company a broadcast license for Canyon TV, a cable music channel.

The reason: Walsh is not a Canadian within the meaning of the CRTC's byzantine foreign ownership rules.

In his original Canyon TV license application, Walsh, who emigrated to Canada from the U.K. in 2005 and filed his immigration papers a year later, indicated he had Canadian residency.

But the CRTC said it received subsequent information from Walsh indicating he'd submitted "incorrect" information, and so his broadcast license for Canyon TV was pulled.

The regulator further advised Canyon TV to reapply for a broadcast license when it could show the cable channel was Canadian-owned and controlled.

The way Walsh tells it, his immigration application remains on hold due to the absence of medical certificates for two sons that were abducted from the U.K. in 2003.

"I was unable to get the medical exams done as I do not know where my sons are, let alone to get them sent for a medical exam," he explained.

Walsh's immigration travails surfaced earlier this year during a legal run-in with Telus Corp. over his inability to negotiate an interconnection agreement with the western Canadian phone giant.

"In early 2010, during a cross examination, the Telus attorneys raised a point that there may be issues with my licenses with regards to ownership requirements," he recalled.

Walsh immediately informed the CRTC about the ownership issues raised in court, and the regulator subsequently told him his frozen residency application rendered the TV executive unable to qualify for Canadian broadcasting licenses he already had in hand.

His regulatory difficulties ironically come as Ottawa is making moves to loosen Canada's foreign ownership rules for media companies.

The feds are first looking to change foreign ownership rules for domestic telecom companies to allow them to tap more inwards investment.

And any eventual relaxation of foreign ownership rules for domestic phone companies is expected to impact Canadian cable operators and broadcasters operating under the federal Broadcasting Act as each is moving onto one another's turf amid continuing industry convergence.
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