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Canadian regulator nixes HDTV Networks license request

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) April 3 denied HDTV Networks’ application for a license to operate a national, English-language HD conventional TV service.

The company sought to launch what would be the “Canadian equivalent of a superstation,” said Michel Arpin, the CRTC's vice chairman of broadcasting. According to Arpin, the regulator found no compelling reason to grant a license for a national broadcaster.

Local programming is an integral feature of the agency’s conventional TV policy, according to a CRTC statement. HDTV Networks would only commit to providing two hours of local programming per week in each of the eight markets it wanted to serve: Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax. By comparison, existing conventional stations offer on average more than 22 hours of local programming per week.

The commission also found that HDTV Networks' proposal was inconsistent with its policies governing the distribution of digital television signals.