Shaw gets okay to distribute Big 10 Network E-mail
Friday, 05 September 2008
Shaw gets okay to distribute Big 10 NetworkAfter eight months of waiting, the CRTC has given Shaw Communications approval to offer the Big Ten network (BTN) to its digital cable customers.

The Big Ten Network is a U.S. regional sports network which launched in August of 2007. The network, which is owned by the Big Ten collegiate athletic conference and Fox Cable Networks, is focused on sports and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) programming.

The Commission received the request on January 9th of this year from Shaw and after 14 weeks of deliberation issued a Call for Comments.

The commission received comments in opposition to the service from the Canadian Film and Television Production Association (CFTPA), the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) and CTVglobemedia Inc. (CTVgm).

The CFTPA argued that the creation and licensing of a Canadian college or university sports television service would be more beneficial to Canadians, this despite the fact that no broadcaster in Canada was actually proposing such a channel. The CAB argued that BTN should be disallowed because of limited channel capacity on the digital cable tiers, despite any presentation of facts to support its claim and despite the fact that the CRTC has no authority in administering the capacity of a cable or satellite television distributor.

CTVglobemedia Inc. stated that BTN should not be allowed because it was "partially competitive" with TSN which broadcast some College sports programming.

Shaw responded to its critics by saying that the addition of high-quality non-Canadian services was essential to ensure the ongoing strength and relevance of the Canadian broadcasting system in that it maximizes choice and programming diversity. The company also referred to an Ipsos-Reid survey that found that Canadians object to artificial regulatory restrictions on choice and want more non-Canadian services.

More importantly, Shaw stated that the naysayers had not provided any compelling evidence that BTN would be totally or partially competitive with any licensed Canadian pay or specialty service.

The CRTC's analysis found that BTN was a very "niche" service and was not competitive with any Canadian pay or specialty service. In response to CAB, the federal regulator noted that capacity issues are not taken into account in the assessment of whether a non-Canadian service should be added to the lists of eligible satellite services.

In light of Shaw's response and its own analysis, the government regulator approved the Big Ten Network for distribution in Canada.

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