TORONTO (The Hollywood Reporter) — A coalition of Canadian content creators on June 27 formally asked the federal cabinet to overturn a June 16 decision by Canada’s broadcast regulator that allows U.S.-based rivals XM Satellite Radio Holdings and Sirius Satellite Radio to operate digital radio services in Canada.
The consortium of unions and arts groups argued that allowing Sirius and XM into Canada would undermine key provisions of the federal Broadcast Act, which aims to ensure minimum levels of Canadian content on airwaves here.
The formal petition came from a group that includes Canada’s performers’ union ACTRA, the Canadian Independent Record Production Assn., the Directors’ Guild of Canada and the Writers’ Guild of Canada. It had been expected after the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission offered digital radio broadcast licenses to Sirius and its partner, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., and rival XM Radio and its Canadian partners.
The CRTC also approved licenses for non-satellite digital radio services from two Canadian broadcasters, Astral Media Inc. and Chum Ltd.
The consortium insists that the CRTC ordering the U.S. satellite services to offer one Canadian channel for every nine foreign channels ran contrary to current federal broadcast policy that aims at ensuring domestic radio and TV services are predominantly Canadian in content.
Chum and Astral, which have promised greater amounts of Canadian content on their proposed digital radio service, earlier said they were disappointed with the homegrown content quotas placed on the rival Sirius and XM services.
XM and Sirius must now report back to the CRTC on whether they can live with the Canadian-content conditions imposed on their licenses.