Canadian Satellite Radio: Finally
By: Scott Fish
Disclosure: Author is not part of Sirius or CSR.
In June, the CRTC granted satellite radio licenses to two groups - the CBC, which is partnered with New York-based Sirius, and CSR, which is partnered with Washington-based XM.
The federal cabinet has upheld the CRTC's decision to issue two new satellite radio licenses. As part of the deal, all applicants agreed to include more Canadian and French-language material. This is typical of Canadian media regulations and has made headway for the satellite radio push and representation. Groups such as Liberal MPs, Quebecers and other cultural groups did have some opposition to the deal. "In effect, the Americans have won...This is a black day," said Ian Morrison, spokesman for the lobby group Friends of Canadian Broadcasting.
Sirius Canada Inc. and Canadian Satellite Radio Inc. (CSR) say they are pleased. CSR CEO John Bitove said in a statement that his company intends to be a "proud" representation of Canadian business and satellite radio to the Prime Minister, the government and the country.
As per conditions of the licenses, The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) will begin holding hearings asking for public input on the new commitments. The decision was made by the CRTC in June however the issue has been a heated one as cabinet debated whether to uphold it. Cabinet had the option to approve it, reject it, or send it back for further review.
As part of the agreement, CSR and Sirius have been forces to increase the French-language influence and broadcasting. Both promise to include 8 Canadian channels, which are half English and half French.