Group of Canadian channels make their case for retaining status as mandatory

Canada's broadcasting regulator is holding three days of public hearings into licence renewals for a number of TV channels that are currently mandatory on basic packages that digital TV distributors are required to offer.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission will decide whether the channels will continue to be designated mandatory on so-called ``skinny'' TV packages costing no more than $25 per month.

A loss of the mandatory designation by the CRTC would force smaller, specialized Canadian channels to compete for limited spots on the lineup provided by cable, phone and satellite service providers.

Among those scheduled to speak Monday was Aboriginal Peoples Television Network Inc., national French language services from TV5 Quebec Canada and Vues & Voix, a national French-language audio service.

Earlier, the operator of the Weather Network and MeteoMedia said it wants TV distributors to be clearly required to carry both services, to serve both English and French audiences.

Pelmorex Weather Networks (Television) Inc. says some TV distributors have interpreted the current rules to mean they are only permitted to carry one service or the other but not both.