CRTC to hold new carriage fee hearings

Viewers unwilling to pay for local TV signals

TORONTO -- The Canadian government has ordered the CRTC to hold new hearings in compensating domestic broadcasters for carriage of their local TV signals. The TV regulator had rejected the proposal in previous hearings.

Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore told the CRTC to issue a formal report on the implications of so-called fees for carriage after it holds new hearings.

"We've directed the CRTC to consider what fee-for-carriage would mean for Canadians, because this is an issue that affects them directly," the federal minister said in a statement.

The call follows domestic broadcasters, facing a deep TV ad slump, aggressively lobbying Ottawa for fee-for-carriage compensation, and domestic cable and satellite TV operators fighting back against what they consider a new tax on TV viewing.

The CRTC itself has faced a growing backlash by TV viewers unwilling to be charged for local TV signals that they currently receive for free via cable and satellite TV schedules.