CRTC shoots down time-shifting proposal

But allows broadcasters to negotiate payments

TORONTO -- Canada's TV regulator on Thursday said no to a proposal that would have forced Canadian cable and satellite TV operators to pay domestic over-the-air broadcasters to carry their signals.

But the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission said that it will allow conventional broadcasters to negotiate payments for the retransmission of their signals to other provinces, also known as time-shifting.

The decisions come as part of the CRTC's long-awaited review of the domestic TV industry.

Conventional broadcasters had earlier urged the CRTC to force consumers to begin paying for over-the-air TV signals they currently receive for free.

Canadians may still have to pay more to watch TV, however.

The CRTC said that cable and satellite TV operators should pay 6% of their revenue, up from 5%, to help pay for the production of local Canadian shows.

The regulator ruled that the added cost to domestic content carriers came about because they would continue to be "sheltered from competition from American undertakings."

The CRTC review also could pave the way for the Canadian debut of ESPN. The regulator proposed minor adjustments to its long-standing genre protection policy, in which a U.S. cable channel that offers similar programming to a Canadian channel can be barred from entry into the market.

The CRTC said it will take competition between existing Canadian sports cable channels and foreign services into account because they "are strong, healthy, highly popular and highly competitive."

At the same time, the regulator said that any "wholesale move away" from genre exclusivity threatened to limit diversity of Canadian TV services offered to domestic viewers.

The CRTC also gave permission for conventional broadcasters to seek compensation for time shifting. The broadcasters complain they lose revenue when viewers watch network feeds from other time zones.