Getting Sirius

The CRTC made a request for applications for digital audio broadcasting (DAB) radio services in December of 2003. Canadian Satellite Radio (CSR), CBC and CHUM submitted proposals to the CRTC. Canadian Satellite Radio is a joint venture of former Toronto Raptors owner John Bitove Jr. and XM Satellite Radio Holdings. CBC is in partnership with Sirius Satellite Radio. CHUM is the only company to respond without an American partner.

The CSR and CBC proposals would leverage existing S-band (2320-2345 MHz) digital radio satellite services. In effect, this is the same infrastructure that XM and Sirius use in the U.S. although packaged for Canadian audiences with somewhat different channel lineups.

CSR would offer 101 channels, four of which would be produced in Canada, for a monthly fee of $12.99. CBC would offer 78 channels, with four produced by CBC, for a monthly fee of $12.95. Canadian-produced channels could also be offered to U.S. subscribers.

CHUM would use Eureka-147 terrestrial digital audio broadcasting for its service and its first offering would be 50 channels for a monthly fee of $9.95. All of CHUM’s content would be produced in Canada. Because of the broadcast technology, CHUM would be subject to the Canadian content requirements: 35% Canadian origin. The satellite services are not subject to this rule. CRTC is currently soliciting public comment regarding such policies for Canadian subscription radio.

CRTC closed the filing period for proposals and it will accept public comment until Sept. 15, 2004. It will hold a hearing on the subject Nov. 1, and may issue rules and license(s) in 2005.

Digital Radio will offer another channel for Canadian musicians to distribute their work. Long overdue.

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