U.S. stations demand distrib fees in Canada

WDIV, KSTP, WIVB, WNLO, WHEC band together

Five local U.S. stations have banded together to ask the Canadian government to force Canuck cable and satellite players to pay for distributing their signal north of the border.

Dozens of U.S. stations are available on Canadian cable and satellite services and none receive compensation.

The stations in the coalition are WDIV in Detroit, KSTP in Minneapolis, WIVB and WNLO in Buffalo, and WHEC in Rochester. The group is calling itself the U.S. Television Coalition.

Four years ago the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission ruled that distribs must pay local channels for their signal. The American channels want similar compensation.

U.S. Television Coalition spokesman Francis Schiller said they are not expecting the CRTC to weigh in on this but rather believe it is an issue for the government to rule on under the Canada-U.S. free-trade agreement.

“It’s not about the money,” said Schiller. “It’s about the recognition of the retransmission rights. These signals have been packaged and distributed across Canada without consulting any of these stations.”

Neither the federal government nor the CRTC have yet responded to this demand.

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