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The Globe and Mail

TV stations may charge cable cos. to carry them

Canada's private broadcasters, including CTV and Global, may now ask cable and satellite companies to pay them for the privilege of carrying their stations in their TV packages, following a court decision on Monday.

The decision was actually made nearly a year ago, by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission following a lengthy industry battle on the subject. But, sensing that the cable and satellite companies would challenge it, the CRTC referred the decision to the Federal Court of Appeal because it involved issues -- such as copyright concerns -- that fall outside of the broadcast regulator's jurisdiction.

The Court has decided the CRTC can in fact authorize networks to negotiate to be paid for carrying their stations. However, since late March of 2010 when the CRTC decision was reached, both CTV and Global have been acquired by major television distributors (BCE Inc. and Shaw Communications Inc. , respectively,) raising questions about whether these negotiations will go ahead in the new industry landscape.

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Cable and satellite firms last year came out against paying for network signals the way they do for specialty channels such as TSN or Food Network Canada. But at hearings into the BCE-CTV deal in Gatineau in early February, Rogers Communications Inc. , which also owns the City-TV network, expressed concerns that BCE executives might change their minds about asking competitors to pay to carry CTV. Most of the companies said on Monday they're reviewing the decision.

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