October 22, 2007 15:57 ET

Canadian-Dominated "Basic" Package Essential to the Future of Television System: S-VOX

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 22, 2007) - Canadian television needs a mandatory "basic" package consisting predominantly of Canadian channels to preserve the diversity of the system, Toronto-based S-VOX Trust has told the federal broadcast regulator.

In a submission to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), S-VOX called for rules to ensure that Canadian content providers hold "pride of place" within the country's television system.

S-VOX, which operates the analog multi-faith channel VisionTV, as well as two digital services (One: the Body, Mind & Spirit channel and The Christian Channel), made the submission as part of the CRTC's review of the specialty and pay television sector. A public hearing will commence in February 2008.

The submission follows on the heels of a proposal to the CRTC by Rogers Communications Inc. that calls for reducing the size of the basic package.

In its submission, S-VOX notes that the goal of the Broadcasting Act is a television system that "promotes Canadian content and Canadian programming services over foreign alternatives," reflects the country's bilingualism and diversity, and responds to Canadians "as citizens as well as consumers."

S-VOX proposes a basic package in which at least two-thirds of the channels are owned and operated by Canadians. To be eligible for inclusion in this basic tier, a channel must offer a minimum of 65 percent Canadian content, and invest at least 50 percent of its revenue in Canadian programming.

This basic package should also include minority language services, should deliver content for diverse audiences, and should offer educational and community programming.

Bill Roberts, President and CEO of S-VOX, points out that cable companies and other broadcast distribution undertakings (BDUs) govern access to the market, controlling distribution, packaging, pricing and channel placement. This puts programming services at a disadvantage - particularly those smaller, independent channels such as VisionTV that deliver, as a condition of licence, high volumes of Canadian content.

"We cannot rely on market forces alone to ensure that viewers enjoy access to Canadian programming that reflects our country's diversity," Mr. Roberts said. "The success of Canadian television over the years has been the result of achieving a balance between market forces and a judiciously measured degree of regulation. This is the model that will ensure that our television system continues to thrive."

S-VOX (www.s-vox.com) is a diversified multimedia enterprise that offers high-quality television and digital content for individuals seeking spiritual awareness and personal growth. S-VOX properties include: VisionTV, Canada's multi-faith and multicultural television broadcaster, along with the digital television services One: the Body, Mind & Spirit channel and The Christian Channel. Other ventures include: Vision TV International, a partnership with Toronto-based Ellis Entertainment that develops, produces and distributes original programming for the global marketplace; and Christian Media Sales, a product marketing and media buying company.

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