CRTC sets public hearings for bailout

Cable, satellite TV operators oppose fee for carriage bailout

TORONTO -- After being ordered by Ottawa to seek taxpayer input into a proposed federal media bailout, Canada's TV regulator said Friday that it will hold public hearings starting Dec. 7 before it issues a report.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has twice denied domestic broadcasters the right to secure subscriber fees from cable and satellite TV operators.

But Ottawa is likely to make a final decision on whether a new tax on cable and satellite TV subscribers will be allowed to subsidize domestic broadcasters undercut by the economic downturn and a TV ad slump.

Cable and satellite TV operators vigorously oppose the so-called fee for carriage bailout, which also follows the CRTC creating a local programming fund for embattled broadcasters.

"We are discussing a number of regulatory changes with the industry to ensure the system's future health," CRTC chairman Konrad von Finckenstein said Friday.

"It is important that consumers make their voices heard on the issues that affect them the most," he added of the implications for Canadian TV viewers from the proposed new subscriber tax.