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TV providers to CRTC: reject bids for guaranteed spots on basic cable, satellite

The Canadian Press

GATINEAU, Que. - Some of the country's largest cable and satellite TV providers are urging the federal telecommunications regulator to reject a number of channels that are vying for guaranteed spots on the dial.

Shaw Communications (TSX:SJR.B) and Rogers Communications (TSX:RCI.B) oppose what is known as mandatory carriage, which would force them to include the channels on their basic cable and satellite packages.

They say costs would increase if the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission forces them to add channels to their basic cable and satellite packages.

The CRTC is holding eight days of hearings in Gatineau, Que., to examine 22 applications for mandatory carriage from new and existing channels, as well as channels that want to renew their mandatory distribution status.

Perhaps the most notable applicant is Sun News, the Quebecor-owned network that's arguing for a guaranteed spot because it produces 96 hours a week of uniquely Canadian, conservative-minded content.

The network says it needs mandatory carriage to help offset its losses, which were $17 million in 2012 — a situation that Quebecor (TSX:QBR.B) calls "clearly unsustainable."