Canada: CRTC Hearing Arguments for OTA HD

CRTC, the federal broadcast regulator for Canada roughly equivalent to the FCC in the Unites States, started hearings this week on whether to permit two new entrants in the over-the-air (OTA) TV market that would provide HD signals fulltime from coast to coast.

A Toronto businessman, John Bitove, has been lobbying for many months to start up the nation’s first terrestrial HD network with stations in Canada’s eight largest television markets. A second hopeful, Yes TV, is seeking a license to operate a lone HD channel for the Toronto metroplex.

Besides having to get the nod of the CRTC, the two proposals are strongly opposed by two of Canada’s most powerful TV enterprises, CTV and Global. Both are also currently readying their facilities for HD content and fear that competition for advertising dollars in a tight economy will hurt or cripple their HD efforts.

The Bitove HD network plan, if approved, would signal the first time a TV network has been formed in Canada from scratch, without any existing stations or other facilities to upgrade. The proposed non-governmental HD network would offer free English-language HD services in Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, Edmonton, Halifax, Calgary, Winnipeg and Montreal.