Industry Canada Advisory Letter — The Use of Unplanned Over-the-Air (OTA) Broadcasting Television Spectrum and the Manufacturing and Importation for the Sale of Digital Capable Television Receiving Apparatus

September 26, 2006

Mrs. Diane Rhéaume
Secretary General
Canadian Radio-Television
and Telecommunications Commission
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0N2

Dear Mrs. Rhéaume:

Subject: Industry Canada Advisory Letter - The Use of Unplanned Over-the-Air (OTA) Broadcasting Television Spectrum and the Manufacturing and Importation for the Sale of Digital Capable Television Receiving Apparatus

  1. I would like to commend the Commission for proceeding to review certain aspects of the regulatory framework for OTA television as announced in Notice of Public Hearing CRTC-2006-5. Industry Canada remains committed to support the digital television (DTV) licensing process in its activities in considering engineering briefs and broadcasting certification. This advisory letter is submitted on the public record in response to the above-mentioned Notice.
  2. The North American market for digital television is moving rapidly, with both Canada and the United States (US) offering television viewers digital programming via cable and satellite.

    In addition, the US is moving with equal speed to implement OTA digital television services. This is being driven to some extent by competition from cable and satellite delivery platforms. It is also mandated by the direction of the US Congress to maximize the public benefit that will accrue from freeing up the valuable spectrum resource in a post-DTV transition, for new advanced wireless radiocommunication services.
  3. Industry Canada has been planning to use both pre and post DTV transition television spectrum resources for sometime now. This has been done in a careful stepped manner to accommodate the needs of broadcasters during the digital transition. In June 2006, the release of the department's Radio System Policy RP-061 culminated years of work to free-up the first pair of television channels (63 and 68) for critical public safety applications. In addition, this spectrum policy refined the criteria for the limited use of television channels 2 to 59 in support of advanced communications in rural and remote areas.
  4. In an effort to further encourage the implementation of DTV in Canada and move towards the freeing-up valuable spectrum resources for new advanced wireless services, permit me to advise the Commission and broadcasting applicants of the following criteria that Industry Canada will apply when receiving applications for the use of television channels 2-69.
  5. Criteria for the Review of Applications for Television Stations on Channels 2-69

    Effective January 2007, the department will apply the following channel-specific criteria when receiving applications for broadcasting certificates:

    Channels 52-69

    No broadcasting certificates will be granted for
    1. new analogue television stations;
    2. applications predicated on changes to the technical parameters of existing analogue television stations which would result in increased spectrum utilization; and
    3. new digital television stations, except for a digital channel allotment that is already associated with an existing analogue station. Such a certification would only be valid until the transition to digital television (DTV) has been completed.

    Channels 2-51

    No broadcasting certificates will be granted for

    1. new analogue television stations, except for those ones already predicated in the digital television transition allotment plan on paired allotments with both the analogue and digital channels in the 2-51 channel range; and
    2. the provision of analogue broadcasting on a digital channel allotment.

    Advanced Wireless Services in Television Channels 2-59

    In regard to Industry Canada's recent radio system policy RP-06 on the use of television channels 2-59 to provide advanced wireless services to remote rural areas of Canada, the department would like to further advise the Commission and broadcasting applicants that, with a view to ensuring that new remote rural applications do not constrain broadcasting services, the Department will only consider authorizing fixed radiocommunication applications, such as fixed wireless access.
  6. The department had previously stated that "The Allotment Plan envisaged that the core spectrum for DTV broadcasting would eventually reside in channels 2-59. Some allotments were assigned in channels 60-69 during the transition period to accommodate simulcasting."2 However, in consultation with the industry, the department is now developing a post-transition DTV allotment plan that will eventually accommodate DTV broadcasting in channels 2-51. In a post DTV transition environment, broadcasters will be no longer be permitted to use their extra channel that they may have been using during the transition period from analogue to digital television services.
  7. Shut Down Date for Analogue Television

    Given the potential for alternative use of spectrum to be freed-up by the transition to DTV, Industry Canada is of the view, from the perspective of efficient and effective management of the radio spectrum, that serious consideration should be given to specifying a date for the shut down of OTA analogue television. Such a date could be closely aligned within a North American market with a view to ensuring that Canadians will be able to receive Canadian OTA DTV within a North American market time frame. This could also contribute to Canadian broadcasters maintaining their viewership, particularly in markets along the Canada/US border where American television stations are rapidly moving to DTV.
  8. DTV Technical Requirements Related to the Manufacturing and Importation for the Sale of Digital Capable Television Receiving Apparatus

    Industry Canada will amend its technical rules to require that, as of a certain date, all new television sets and other consumer apparatus capable of receiving OTA television signals, include built-in ATSC3 tuners. The effective date for bringing into force of such a requirement will be determined in connection with the establishment of a date for the shut down of OTA analogue TV.

I trust that this information will further clarify the situation as we proceed toward the next stages of planning these spectrum resources for new advanced wireless services.

Sincerely yours,

Michael Binder
Assistant Deputy Minister
Spectrum, Information Technologies
and Telecommunications

c.c. Michel Arpin Vice-Chair, Broadcasting , CRTC
Len Katz, Executive Director, Broadcasting and Telecommunications CRTC
Jean-Pierre Blais, Assistant Deputy Minister, Department of Canadian Heritage
Glenn O'Farrell, President and & CEO, Canadian Association of Broadcasters
Paul Frew, President, Radio Advisory Board of Canada

1 Radio System Policy RP-06 on the use of 700 MHz Spectrum for Public Safety Applications and Other Limited Use of Broadcasting Spectrum (Notice No. DGTP-001-06).

2 Proposal to Introduce the Mobile Service on a Co-primary Basis with the Broadcasting Service in the Frequency band 746-806 MHz (Notice No. DGTP-004-01).

3 Advanced Television Systems Committee.

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