Bell Media's August 2015 applications with the CRTC to amend the license conditions for MuchMusic, MuchMoreMusic, and MTV have been denied.
The amendments, if approved, could have almost halved the amount of Canadian content carried by the services over a programming year and potentially set grounds to withdraw full or partial funding from VideoFACT.
Bell had argued that the applications would resolve the imbalance under a new regulatory environment that eliminates genre exclusivity for specialty channels.
In its Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2016-14 released Monday, the Commission put the kibosh to the applications.
“Bell’s Category A services have strong brands and large audiences, due, at least in part, to their mandatory distribution. It appears that Bell does not consider Category A status necessary to ensure favourable distribution of these services”, the Commission wrote. “Bell has not, however, asked to relinquish access privileges (and reduce the exhibition requirements) for all of its Category A services. This is at odds with Bell’s argument that its applications are an attempt to gain regulatory parity between Category A and B services. This suggests that the applications may be an attempt to better position Bell’s most popular specialty services as soon as possible. Therefore, converting the eight Category A services into Category B services and reducing their regulatory obligations at this time could confer upon Bell an advantage over other Category B services.”
Bell will have to wait to make these changes until its broadcast licences for these services come up for renewal on August 31, 2017.