Shows crossing border on Bell ExpressVu


TORONTO -- Canada's TV regulator on Friday eased the access of U.S. border stations to the Canadian TV ad market by exempting domestic satellite TV operator Bell ExpressVu from a requirement to delete select American shows.

Previously, domestic content carriers like cable and satellite TV operators have been obliged to delete and replace shows from cross-border U.S. TV stations if a Canadian broadcaster already holds the exclusive domestic rights to the program.

But after persistent complaints from Canadian TV viewers when their favorite U.S. shows have been blacked out, the CRTC ruled that Bell ExpressVu are no longer required to delete U.S. shows to protect local programming rights.

The CRTC has instead ordered Bell ExpressVu to subsidize a new industry fund to "assist small-market, independently owned (Canadian) broadcasters in meeting their commitments to local programming."

The financial contribution aims to offset revenue that Canadian broadcasters lose when local TV viewers watch the cross-border U.S. stations and U.S. broadcasters sell commercials to Canadian advertisers.

Bell ExpressVu and other content carriers already have compensated broadcasters directly for losses from distant station carriage.

The CRTC now aims to ensure that compensation goes directly into independently produced programming that shows up on Canadian TV schedules and competes directly with popular U.S. shows airing in primetime here.

The regulator said it will rule further on the question of program deletion when it unveils a new framework for domestic content carriers and cable channels later this year.