CRTC nixes HD TV bids


TORONTO – Canada's TV regulator on Thursday said no to two separate bids to operate high-definition, over-the-air TV networks here.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) denied a bid by HDTV Networks to launch eight high-definition TV stations nationwide led by John Bitove, who operates XM Satellite Radio's Canadian subscription satellite radio service.

CRTC vice-chairman Michel Arpin in his ruling said the regulator had no interest in licensing what amounted to a U.S.-style superstation that broadcasts nationwide with no local programming.

Arpin argued HDTV Networks would have produced little local programming in the eight markets it wanted to serve -- two hours weekly, against 22 hours of programming from existing local conventional TV stations, on average.

Had Bitove's application been approved, existing conventional TV stations could have requested far lower local programming requirements to compete with HDTV.

The regulator also turned thumbs down to YES TV's bid to operate an English-language HD conventional TV station in Toronto as it did not convince the CRTC that it "could fulfill its programming commitments."