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Cable TV In Canada
Many Canadians now receive their television service through some sort of multichannel television platform, such as cable television or satellite television, as opposed to an antenna-based system providing only conventional stations. While the technical details of these platforms differ, the governing Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) regulations are similar for all providers.
Cable television in Canada began in 1952 with community antenna connections in Vancouver and London; which city is first is not clear. Initially, the systems brought American stations to viewers in Canada who had no Canadian stations to watch; broadcast television, though begun late in 1952 in Toronto and Montreal, did not reach a majority of cities until 1954.
In time, cable television was widely established to carry available Canadian stations as well as import American stations, which constituted the vast majority of signals on systems (usually only one or two Canadian stations, while some systems had duplicate or even triplicate coverage of American networks). During the 1970s, a growing number of Canadian stations pushed American channels off the systems, forcing several to expand beyond the original 12-channel system configurations. At the same time, the advent of fibre-optic technology enabled companies to extend their systems to nearby towns and villages that by themselves were not viable cable television markets.
Specialty television channels available only on cable began to be established in 1983, and systems continued to expand and upgrade their channel capacity, notably by deploying fibre-optics to carry signals as far as neighbourhoods before converting to coaxial cable for the final run to the customer premises. The use of Fibre Optic cables as far back as the 1970s does not imply that Cable companies were using digital methods to transmit signals as is sometimes assumed by the modern viewer. This is a common misunderstanding very similar to the misunderstood belief that LaserDisc was a digital format, which it isn't. Methods were developed and deployed as far back as the 1970s to transmit analog video using frequency division multiplexing via fibre-optic cabling. Digital signaling is a much more modern practice which only began in the early 2000s. Two-way capabilities were introduced, and larger systems were able to use "addressable" descramblers to offer pay-TV and different tiers of channels.
Cable television began to face serious competition from DTH satellite services in the late 1990s. Telephone companies and cable television companies have since been permitted, in most parts of Canada, to compete to provide services originally provided by the other. Cable television services are not the prime providers of broadband Internet in Canada, but they are a very strong competitor for the service.
During the early 1970s, Canadian television stations obtained regulatory rulings that required cable television operators to substitute their signals for distant (usually American) stations carrying the same television program at the same time. This was to protect the stations' advertising sales.
Many systems were originally locally owned, and many large cities had several providers each covering specific sections of a city; a long series of consolidations and acquisitions rapidly brought most major cities' systems under the ownership of a small number of large companies.
Presently, cable is provided to most cities and towns, depending on the region, by companies such as Rogers Communications, Shaw Communications, Vidéotron, Cogeco, Persona, Cable Axion, Dery Telecom and EastLink. Most of these "first-generation" cable companies do not compete with each other, as the CRTC has traditionally licensed only one cable provider per market. Even in markets where more than one distributor has been licensed, each has an exclusive territory within the market. However, most telephone companies such as Bell Canada, Telus, Aliant, Manitoba Telecom Services (MTS) and SaskTel have recently secured IPTV distribution licences in their own territories, several of which are already in use.
Specialty channels, unlike their counterparts in the U.S., must be licensed by the CRTC. They cannot include general-interest services of the likes of USA Network or TNT - most of their original series are carried instead on broadcast stations, perhaps an indication of why there are now so many broadcast "systems" in the Canadian industry - but do include such categories as sports (TSN), news (CBC Newsworld and CTV News Channel), music (MuchMusic), arts (Bravo!), kids (YTV) and drama (Showcase).
As a general rule, specialty channels cannot be directly competitive. However the commission has given leeway in certain broader categories. For instance, in theory CBC Newsworld and CTV News Channel are the Canadian equivalents of CNN and CNN Headline News respectively, although in practice they are directly competitive in most respects. Similarly, TSN, Rogers Sportsnet and The Score are licensed as national sports, regional sports, and sports news services respectively, but they compete for the rights to several key national broadcast properties, including Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League. However, The Score has specific restrictions due to its status as a sports news service, such as a requirement a ticker with sports news and scores running at all times, and restrictions on the amount of live programming it can air weekly. In a public notice published by the CRTC, Broadcasting Public Notice 2008-100 (Regulatory frameworks for broadcasting distribution undertakings and discretionary programming services), it was revealed that the competition rules would be removed entirely for news and sports services. 
Specialty services can generally be divided into four types. To the end user, there is little if any distinction between the first two ("analog") and last two ("digital") categories:
* Dual-status - analog channels intended for the basic package of a cable/satellite provider, unless the two parties agree in writing otherwise. These include first-generation services such as CBC Newsworld, VisionTV, YTV, MuchMusic, TSN, CMT, The Weather Network, RDI, TV5, VRAK.TV, MusiquePlus, RDS and MétéoMédia. Although other Canadian speciality services can also be distributed on the basic package as well.
* Modified dual-status - analog channels intended for discretionary packages of a cable/satellite provider, unless the parties agree otherwise. These include second- and third-generation services such as Showcase, Bravo!, Discovery Channel, W Network, Canal Vie, MusiMax, Canal D and more. Several dual-status services, such as TSN, have changed to or are considering a change to this type due to limits on the rates they can charge on the basic service.
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