July 22, 1964

TELEVISION

STATEMENT ON COMMUNITY ANTENNA SYSTEMS

LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Hon. J. W. Pickersgill (Minister of Transport):

Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a statement on community antenna television broadcasting. In a statement on December 31, 1963, the Minister of Transport and the Secretary of State indicated that for some time the problem of the effect of community antenna television on national broadcasting policy had been of concern to the government.

In order to give the government an opportunity to consider the problem it was announced on December 31 that until further notice no new licences or amendments to existing licences would be approved for CATV installations to receive and disseminate programs emanating from broadcasting stations outside Canada. It was also decided that no new or amended licences would be granted to any applicant in any case where more than 25 per cent of the ownership of the installation was held by persons who are not citizens of Canada, in the same way as licences for television broadcasting are limited by the Broadcasting Act. This ownership requirement was confirmed by an interim ministerial order issued by the Minister of Transport on February 21, 1964.

The government asked the board of broadcast governors, in consultation with the technical experts of the Department of Transport, to inquire into and recommend any legislative action which might be required to ensure that, so far as the constitutional jurisdiction of parliament would permit, the use of community antenna television for the dissemination of television programs was subject to similar regulation under parallel conditions to that applied to broadcasting.

The report was received by the government on March 9, 1964 and was tabled in the house. Since that date the government has received representations from the national community antenna television association of Canada and given prolonged study to the problems involved.

The government has two main concerns. One is to see that CATV installations in Canada do not come under the ownership and control of persons and corporations which are not Canadian. The other is to see that CATV installations designed to receive broadcasts emanating from outside the area reached by any local Canadian television station, and particularly from outside Canada, are unlikely to make the operation of any existing television station uneconomic or to inhibit the provision of alternate Canadian television service in the area concerned.

So far as ownership is concerned, it has been found that the interim ministerial order of February 21 does not ensure an effective degree of Canadian ownership and control of CATV installations. It is proposed therefore to amend the order of the Minister of Transport so as to ensure effective Canadian ownership and control of new CATV installations. A draft of the proposed amending order is being tabled now. It will come into effect on August 1, and will apply only to new installations or to changes proposed for the first time after today in the ownership of existing installations. Applications already before the department will be considered on their individual merits as was the case before December 31, 1963.

The so-called freeze will be lifted immediately and the Minister of Transport will deal with pending applications after informal consultation with the board of broadcast governors on the possible effect on television broadcasting in the area concerned. Since there is some doubt as to the power of the board of broadcast governors to hold hearings, the government proposes to ask parliament, through approval of an item in the next supplementary estimates of the Department of Transport, to clothe the board with the necessary authority to hold such hearings pending a more formal amendment of the Broadcasting Act or the Radio Act. Meanwhile the Minister of Transport will, in the exercise of his powers under the Radio Act, content himself with informal consultation with the board of broadcast governors.

In announcing the lifting of the so-called freeze the government wishes to emphasize that it has no desire to regulate CATV for

Community Antennae Broadcasting the sake of regulation, but merely to the minimum extent deemed necessary to maintain the Canadian identity and character of broadcasting to the greatest extent practicable, in accord with the consistent position taken by all governments and parliaments since the Aird report of 1929.

Now, sir, I have for tabling what the government proposes as an item in the next supplementary estimates and what I propose to make as a ministerial order with regard to ownership. Possibly it would be very boring if I were to read these documents, and it might be convenient for hon. members either to have them printed as an appendix to Hansard or perhaps, in these very unusual circumstances, they might just follow my statement and be deemed to have been read, so they would all be in one place in Hansard-

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PC

John George Diefenbaker (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

That would be a good suggestion, to have them follow.

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?

Maurice Bourget (Speaker of the Senate)

Mr. Speaker:

Does the house agree to the procedure suggested by the minister?

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Subtopic:   STATEMENT ON COMMUNITY ANTENNA SYSTEMS
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NDP

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

New Democratic Party

Mr. Douglas:

Which one?

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

The Leader of the Opposition suggested that it might be preferable to have the two documents follow immediately after what I have said.

Topic:   TELEVISION
Subtopic:   STATEMENT ON COMMUNITY ANTENNA SYSTEMS
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?

Maurice Bourget (Speaker of the Senate)

Mr. Speaker:

Is that agreed?

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?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

[Editor's note: The documents referred to above are as follows:]

Proposed Order by Minister of Transport Schedule

1. The general radio regulations, part II are amended by adding thereto immediately after section 67 thereof the following section: "68. (1) Notwithstanding section 4, a licence to establish and operate a station performing a commercial broadcasting receiving service may be issued only to a person who is (a) a Canadian citizen; or (b) a corporation incorporated under the laws of Canada or any province, the chairman or other presiding officer and at least two thirds of the directors of which are Canadian citizens and at least three fourths of the issued shares of which (having voting rights under all circumstances) are owned and controlled by (i) Canadian citizens, or (ii) a corporation in which Canadian citizens own and control three fourths of the issued shares of capital stock thereof (having voting rights under all circumstances).

(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), a licence to establish and operate a station performing a commercial broadcasting receiving service may be issued to a person to whom a similar licence was issued for that station between April 1 and August 1, 1964, to any person in respect of whom authority to issue a similar licence for that station was given between those dates, or to any person whose application for such a licence was received prior to July 23, 1964.

(3) A licence issued under subsection (2) is subject to the condition that any transfer of shares of capital stock of the corporation (having voting rights under all circumstances) shall be to a person who is a person described in paragraph (a) or (b) of subsection (1).

Proposed item re CATV receiving stations to be included in supplementary estimates

Radio Act and regulations:

Administration, operation and maintenance including, in the case of a licence to establish and operate a new station performing a commercial broadcasting receiving service, or the amendment of a licence to establish and operate a station performing a commercial broadcasting receiving service to authorize the licensed station to receive signals from broadcasting stations other than those specified in such licence, authority to specify in any such licence any broadcasting station, from which the licensed station may receive signals, where the Minister of Transport is satisfied, having regard to any recommendation which may be made by the board of broadcast governors in that behalf after public notice and hearing given and held in the same manner as in the case of an application under the Radio Act for the issue of a licence to establish a broadcasting station, that the specification therein of that broadcasting station is unlikely to result in the operation of any existing television broadcasting station in Canada serving the area served or to be served by the licensed station becoming uneconomic or to inhibit the establishment of alternate television broadcasting facilities in Canada serving that area-further amount required, $1.

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PC

Alfred Dryden Hales

Progressive Conservative

Mr. A. D. Hales (Wellington South):

Mr. Speaker, I am sure the house and all hon. members will appreciate having this statement from the Minister of Transport concerning the CATV operators throughout Canada. We are pleased to know that the freeze has been lifted. I am sure this will be well

received by those in the industry because it has created a great hardship on this industry since December 31, 1963, when this freeze was placed on the operators of CATV outlets.

The minister states that he is primarily concerned with the ownership of these operations, and I do not think we have any complaints in this regard. With respect to the other matter concerning the regulations relating to CATV, it remains to be seen what the Department of Transport will do in this connection. I understood the minister to say that interviews will be afforded these people in the industry, so we will just have to wait and see what is the outcome of these hearings which the minister proposes. But we are certainly pleased that this freeze has been lifted, and we will await further developments.

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NDP

Douglas Mason Fisher

New Democratic Party

Mr. D. M. Fisher (Port Arthur):

Mr. Speaker, the weakness in the government policy that has just been announced is that it is impossible to go back and clear up the situation where CATV systems are already in existence, and affecting the existing stations. They are in existence and are providing a service, particularly on United States channels. With the introduction of this new policy it seems to me that this kind of development would block them off from other areas of the country. It is obvious that this is an inequity in that parts of the country which might have looked forward to the kind of service which, for example, Port Arthur has but which Sault Ste. Marie or Wawa has not, will be inhibited by this new policy. It is obvious that in this policy the minister has steered away from giving any firm indication of the government's reaction to the kind of regulation and control in this area that the board of broadcast governors set out in its last annual report it would wish.

I appreciate the reasons for this. We are in a kind of interim period until the matter is resolved. I suppose the solution which has been offered through this item in the supplementary estimates will look after the question of the hearings and the advice which will be sent forward from the board of broadcast governors to the Department of Transport radio department. But I suggest it does almost nothing to indicate whether the board is eventually going to have these powers, or whether the government feels that it should take care of the interests of the existing stations which are now transmitting and which are affected by CATV stations.

We welcome the announcement with regard to the ownership provision. It has been quite apparent that the major worry of many

Community Antennae Broadcasting of us about this CATV set-up becoming a network is that it is actually attracting and has attracted Famous Players Corporation, which is again a United States owned organization. We hope that this ownership organization will steer off expansion in that direction.

We welcome the fact that the freeze has ended. I suggest that this announcement by the government does not end the CATV problem, but that it will be with us for quite a number of years; and I think it will give rise to a great deal of bitterness of debate in this house and in parliamentary caucuses.

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SC

Alexander Bell Patterson

Social Credit

Mr. A. B. Patterson (Fraser Valley):

Mr. Speaker, we welcome the announcement which has been made today. There has been a great deal of uncertainty in the minds of those interested in this particular matter throughout the past several months.

The question was raised as to whether there was any legal authority for intervention in this way, in imposing the freeze and then for the long delay occasioned since that time in order that it might be considered. All these things have created a great deal of uncertainty and dissatisfaction in the industry, but now that the minister has announced the freeze is being lifted it will alleviate the situation to a certain extent.

There has been a great fear in the minds of many residents of Canada that they were going to be deprived of services and privileges that those who live along the United States border are presently enjoying with the many channels available to them, while those living in areas further away from it are limited to one or two. The minister has announced that consideration will be given to the applications already made, and we hope that consideration will be favourable.

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RA

Gérard Laprise

Ralliement Créditiste

Mr. Gerard Laprise (Chapleau):

Mr. Speaker, it is with satisfaction that we heard the statement just made by the Minister of Transport (Mr. Pickersgill).

We are happy to learn that the freeze has been lifted and also that the people concerned will be consulted and given a hearing. This should reduce the tension.

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EDUCATION

STUDENT LOANS

LIB

Walter Lockhart Gordon (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Hon. Walter L. Gordon (Minister of Finance):

Mr. Speaker, if I have the leave

Questions

of the house I would like to table a telegram from Premier Lesage relating to Bill No. C-110, which was requested by the hon. member for Lapointe (Mr. Gregoire) on Tuesday.

Topic:   EDUCATION
Subtopic:   STUDENT LOANS
Sub-subtopic:   TABLING OF TELEGRAM FROM QUEBEC PREMIER
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?

Maurice Bourget (Speaker of the Senate)

Mr. Speaker:

Does the house agree?

Topic:   EDUCATION
Subtopic:   STUDENT LOANS
Sub-subtopic:   TABLING OF TELEGRAM FROM QUEBEC PREMIER
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?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

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Subtopic:   STUDENT LOANS
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QUESTIONS


(Questions answered orally are indicated by an asterisk.) ^PURCHASE OF FLAGS


July 22, 1964