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In cable television, governments apply a must-carry regulation stating that locally licensed television stations must be carried on a cable provider's system.

Under current CRTC rules, the lowest tier of service on all Canadian television providers may not be priced higher than $25 per-month, and must include all local Canadian broadcast television channels, local legislative and educational services, and all specialty services that have 9(1)(h) must-carry status.[1]

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Under current CRTC rules, the lowest tier of service on all Canadian television providers may not be priced higher than $25 per-month, and must include all local Canadian broadcast television channels, local legislative and educational services, and all specialty services that have 9(1)(h) must-carry status.[1]

In the mid-to-late 1970s, the CRTC implemented a rule that a cable system must carry a broadcast television station at no cost to the broadcaster so long as the transmitter emitted an equivalent isotropically radiated power of at least 5 watts. This CRTC rule may have changed over the years, but in principle, a broadcast television station transmitting at 1 kW EIRP must be carried. The status of terrestrial digital only channels with respect to the must-carry requirement is untested as, unlike the U.S., some television stations in Canada did not operate digital signals until the August 2011 and the digital broadcasters that were active prior to then were merely high definition simulcasts of those stations' existing analog signals in major centres such as Toronto and Vancouver with no additional digital subchannels offered due to broadcasters opting not to carry any due to CRTC rules that require subchannels to be licensed separately.

CITY-TV in Toronto (according to its own website and annual reports) owes its financial success as an independent station to this CRTC must-carry rule. It is assumed that this must-carry rule was aimed at smaller television stations in Ontario and Quebec, many of which are not carried by satellite television providers.

For many years, the Canadian must-carry rules created very little friction between terrestrial broadcasters and cable systems, as providers are allowed to more aggressively implement other digital telecommunications services (like cable internet services and IP telephony) with less overall regulation than their U.S. counterparts. However, in 2008, Canada's two largest commercial television networks, CTV and Global, began to demand that the CRTC permit them to charge a fee for cable carriage, even alleging that some smaller market stations would be forced to cease operations if this was not allowed.

United States

In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates this area of business and public policy pursuant to 47 U.S.C. Part II.[2] These rules were upheld in a 5–4 decision by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1997 in the case Turner Broadcasting v. FCC (95-992).

Although cable television service providers routinely carried local affiliates of the major broadcast networks, independent stations and affiliates of minor networks were sometimes not carried, on the premise it would allow cable providers to instead carry non-local programming which they believed would attract more customers to their service.

Many cable operators were also equity owners in these cable channels, especially Tele-Communications Inc., then the nation's largest multiple system operator (MSO), and had moved to replace local channels with equity-owned programming (at the time, TCI held a large stake in Discovery Communications). This pressure was especially strong on cable systems with limited bandwidth for channels.

The smaller local broadcasters argued that by hampering their access to this increasing segment of the local television audience, this posed a threat to the viability of free-to-view broadcast television, which they argued was a worthy public good.

Local broadcast stations also argued cable systems were attempting to serve as a "

In the mid-to-late 1970s, the CRTC implemented a rule that a cable system must carry a broadcast television station at no cost to the broadcaster so long as the transmitter emitted an equivalent isotropically radiated power of at least 5 watts. This CRTC rule may have changed over the years, but in principle, a broadcast television station transmitting at 1 kW EIRP must be carried. The status of terrestrial digital only channels with respect to the must-carry requirement is untested as, unlike the U.S., some television stations in Canada did not operate digital signals until the August 2011 and the digital broadcasters that were active prior to then were merely high definition simulcasts of those stations' existing analog signals in major centres such as Toronto and Vancouver with no additional digital subchannels offered due to broadcasters opting not to carry any due to CRTC rules that require subchannels to be licensed separately.

CITY-TV in Toronto (according to its own website and annual reports) owes its financial success as an independent station to this CRTC must-carry rule. It is assumed that this must-carry rule was aimed at smaller television stations in Ontario and Quebec, many of which are not carried by satellite television providers.

For many years, the Canadian must-carry rules created very little friction between terrestrial broadcasters and cable systems, as providers are allowed to more aggressively implement other digital telecommunications services (like cable internet services and IP telephony) with less overall regulation than their U.S. counterparts. However, in 2008, Canada's two largest commercial television networks, CTV and Global, began to demand that the CRTC permit them to charge a fee for cable carriage, even alleging that some smaller market stations would be forced to cease operations if this was not allowed.

In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates this area of business and public policy pursuant to 47 U.S.C. Part II.[2] These rules were upheld in a 5–4 decision by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1997 in the case Turner Broadcasting v. FCC (95-992).

Although cable television service providers routinely carried local affiliates of the major broadcast networks, independent stations and affiliates of minor networks were sometimes not carried, on the premise it would allow cable providers to instea

Although cable television service providers routinely carried local affiliates of the major broadcast networks, independent stations and affiliates of minor networks were sometimes not carried, on the premise it would allow cable providers to instead carry non-local programming which they believed would attract more customers to their service.

Many cable operators were also equity owners in these cable channels, especially Tele-Communications Inc., then the nation's largest multiple system operator (MSO), and had moved to replace local channels with equity-owned programming (at the time, TCI held a large stake in Discovery Communications). This pressure was especially strong on cable systems with limited bandwidth for channels.

The smaller local broadcasters argued that by hampering their access to this increasing segment of the local television audience, this posed a threat to the viability of free-to-view broadcast television, which they argued was a worthy public good.

Local broadcast stations also argued cable systems were attempting to serve as a "gatekeeper" in competing unfairly for advertising revenue. Some affiliates of major networks also feared that non-local affiliates might negotiate to provide television programming to local cable services to expand their advertising market, taking away this audience from local stations, with similar adverse impact on free broadcast television.

Although cable providers argued that such regulation would impose an undue burden on their flexibility in selecting which services would be most appealing to their customers, the current "must-carry" rules were enacted by the United States Congress in 1992 (via the Cable Television Protection and Competition Act), and the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the rules in rejecting the arguments of the cable industry and programmers in the majority decision authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy. That decision also held that MSOs were functioning as a vertically integrated monopoly.

A side effect of the must-carry rules is that a broadcast station cannot charge a cable television provider license fees for the program content retransmitted on the cable network under the rule. But note that must-carry is an option of the station and the station may, in lieu of must-carry, negotiate license fees as part of a retransmission consent agreement.

There are a few exceptions to must-carry, most notably:

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