Rogers Communications responds to CHCO complaints

Andrew Sutton/Courier CHCO-Tv's Vicki Hogarth delivers the news while Patrick Watt handles the tech in the CHCO studio in Saint Andrews. Rogers Communications has responded to a complaint to the CRTC filed by the independent broadcaster.

Saint Andrews – The continuing saga of CHCO-TV’s dispute with Rogers heated up last month with responses to a complaint filed by CHCO from both Rogers and then a rebuttal from CHCO.

On February 3, Rogers submitted a response to the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) asking them to dismiss a complaint filed by CHCO. Rogers argued it didn’t break the rule requiring 60 days notice when a station is moved from one channel to another because placing CHCO on channel 133 on its newly launched Ignite TV service didn’t constitute a channel realignment because Ignite TV is a new TV platform.

CHCO responded, saying to the average consumer, Ignite TV is a new set top box, not a platform. Patrick Watt, CHCO’s station manager said, “There is no definition of what a platform is, Rogers either has a license to distribute TV channels, or it doesn’t.”

Rogers went on to write that on the new platform it “harmonized” all of the channels above 100, and assigned channel 126 (the channel CHCO has branded itself as being found on) to CBC St. John’s, and that these decisions were made based on time zones.

CHCO submitted a response on February 18 with a table showing Rogers channels, writing the channels carried by Rogers were not actually harmonized by time zone as Rogers claimed. Watt said, “That’s misleading, because that’s not what they did.”

“In this case,” said Watt, “we have a big cable company who knows what industry practise is, dealing with a small television station, and they are just ignoring them. And it’s not like there are a ton of small channels they have to deal with, there is only us.”

In CHCO’s original complaint to the CRTC, it accused Rogers of interrupting service and replacing CHCO programming with other content.

Rogers responded by acknowledging the mistake made on December 8, 2019, when Rogers carried a different telethon on channel 133 during a CHCO fundraiser for 45 minutes. The broadcaster stated the error was a rare exception and blamed the mistake on an employee.

Rogers blamed other loss of signal events on CHCO, something which Watt agreed happens from time to time – usually as the result of a power outage.

But, CHCO argues that on September 30, 2019 a “please stand by” graphic was on Rogers channel 133 while their signal was fine on Rogers channel 126 and 9. If there was a loss of signal then, it would have applied to all of the Rogers channels.

All of this amounts to the peripheral vegetables on the dinner plate of CHCO’s meaty argument, an argument they brought before the CRTC during a Rogers license renewal in 2017. At the time, the CRTC said that hearing wasn’t intended to discuss Rogers’ treatment of independent TV stations.

CHCO argued then, and is arguing again, that Rogers is, in the words of Watt, “Treating us unfairly. They are not distributing us across the province like they are other distant channels.”

“We’re not just a community channel, we’re the only locally run television station in the province.”

andrewsutton@stcroixcourier.ca