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Broadcasting Act (S.C. 1991, c. 11)

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Act current to 2021-06-28 and last amended on 2020-07-01. Previous Versions

Broadcasting Act

S.C. 1991, c. 11

Assented to 1991-02-01

An Act respecting broadcasting and to amend certain Acts in relation thereto and in relation to radiocommunication

Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:

Short Title

Marginal note:Short title

 This Act may be cited as the Broadcasting Act.

PART IGeneral


Marginal note:Definitions

  •  (1) In this Act,


    broadcasting means any transmission of programs, whether or not encrypted, by radio waves or other means of telecommunication for reception by the public by means of broadcasting receiving apparatus, but does not include any such transmission of programs that is made solely for performance or display in a public place; (radiodiffusion)

    broadcasting receiving apparatus

    broadcasting receiving apparatus means a device, or combination of devices, intended for or capable of being used for the reception of broadcasting; (récepteur)

    broadcasting undertaking

    broadcasting undertaking includes a distribution undertaking, a programming undertaking and a network; (entreprise de radiodiffusion)


    Commission means the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission established by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Act; (Conseil)


    Corporation means the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation continued by section 36; (Société)

    distribution undertaking

    distribution undertaking means an undertaking for the reception of broadcasting and the retransmission thereof by radio waves or other means of telecommunication to more than one permanent or temporary residence or dwelling unit or to another such undertaking; (entreprise de distribution)


    encrypted means treated electronically or otherwise for the purpose of preventing intelligible reception; (encodage)


    licence means a licence to carry on a broadcasting undertaking issued by the Commission under this Act; (licence)


    Minister means such member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada as is designated by the Governor in Council as the Minister for the purposes of this Act; (ministre)


    network includes any operation where control over all or any part of the programs or program schedules of one or more broadcasting undertakings is delegated to another undertaking or person; (réseau)


    program means sounds or visual images, or a combination of sounds and visual images, that are intended to inform, enlighten or entertain, but does not include visual images, whether or not combined with sounds, that consist predominantly of alphanumeric text; (émission)

    programming undertaking

    programming undertaking means an undertaking for the transmission of programs, either directly by radio waves or other means of telecommunication or indirectly through a distribution undertaking, for reception by the public by means of broadcasting receiving apparatus; (entreprise de programmation)

    radio waves

    radio waves means electromagnetic waves of frequencies lower than 3 000 GHz that are propagated in space without artificial guide; (ondes radioélectriques)

    temporary network operation

    temporary network operation means a network operation with respect to a particular program or a series of programs that extends over a period not exceeding sixty days. (exploitation temporaire d’un réseau)

  • Marginal note:Meaning of other means of telecommunication

    (2) For the purposes of this Act, other means of telecommunication means any wire, cable, radio, optical or other electromagnetic system, or any similar technical system.

  • Marginal note:Interpretation

    (3) This Act shall be construed and applied in a manner that is consistent with the freedom of expression and journalistic, creative and programming independence enjoyed by broadcasting undertakings.

  • 1991, c. 11, s. 2
  • 1993, c. 38, s. 81
  • 1995, c. 11, s. 43

Broadcasting Policy for Canada

Marginal note:Declaration

  •  (1) It is hereby declared as the broadcasting policy for Canada that

    • (a) the Canadian broadcasting system shall be effectively owned and controlled by Canadians;

    • (b) the Canadian broadcasting system, operating primarily in the English and French languages and comprising public, private and community elements, makes use of radio frequencies that are public property and provides, through its programming, a public service essential to the maintenance and enhancement of national identity and cultural sovereignty;

    • (c) English and French language broadcasting, while sharing common aspects, operate under different conditions and may have different requirements;

    • (d) the Canadian broadcasting system should

      • (i) serve to safeguard, enrich and strengthen the cultural, political, social and economic fabric of Canada,

      • (ii) encourage the development of Canadian expression by providing a wide range of programming that reflects Canadian attitudes, opinions, ideas, values and artistic creativity, by displaying Canadian talent in entertainment programming and by offering information and analysis concerning Canada and other countries from a Canadian point of view,

      • (iii) through its programming and the employment opportunities arising out of its operations, serve the needs and interests, and reflect the circumstances and aspirations, of Canadian men, women and children, including equal rights, the linguistic duality and multicultural and multiracial nature of Canadian society and the special place of aboriginal peoples within that society, and

      • (iv) be readily adaptable to scientific and technological change;

    • (e) each element of the Canadian broadcasting system shall contribute in an appropriate manner to the creation and presentation of Canadian programming;

    • (f) each broadcasting undertaking shall make maximum use, and in no case less than predominant use, of Canadian creative and other resources in the creation and presentation of programming, unless the nature of the service provided by the undertaking, such as specialized content or format or the use of languages other than French and English, renders that use impracticable, in which case the undertaking shall make the greatest practicable use of those resources;

    • (g) the programming originated by broadcasting undertakings should be of high standard;

    • (h) all persons who are licensed to carry on broadcasting undertakings have a responsibility for the programs they broadcast;

    • (i) the programming provided by the Canadian broadcasting system should

      • (i) be varied and comprehensive, providing a balance of information, enlightenment and entertainment for men, women and children of all ages, interests and tastes,

      • (ii) be drawn from local, regional, national and international sources,

      • (iii) include educational and community programs,

      • (iv) provide a reasonable opportunity for the public to be exposed to the expression of differing views on matters of public concern, and

      • (v) include a significant contribution from the Canadian independent production sector;

    • (j) educational programming, particularly where provided through the facilities of an independent educational authority, is an integral part of the Canadian broadcasting system;

    • (k) a range of broadcasting services in English and in French shall be extended to all Canadians as resources become available;

    • (l) the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, as the national public broadcaster, should provide radio and television services incorporating a wide range of programming that informs, enlightens and entertains;

    • (m) the programming provided by the Corporation should

      • (i) be predominantly and distinctively Canadian,

      • (ii) reflect Canada and its regions to national and regional audiences, while serving the special needs of those regions,

      • (iii) actively contribute to the flow and exchange of cultural expression,

      • (iv) be in English and in French, reflecting the different needs and circumstances of each official language community, including the particular needs and circumstances of English and French linguistic minorities,

      • (v) strive to be of equivalent quality in English and in French,

      • (vi) contribute to shared national consciousness and identity,

      • (vii) be made available throughout Canada by the most appropriate and efficient means and as resources become available for the purpose, and

      • (viii) reflect the multicultural and multiracial nature of Canada;

    • (n) where any conflict arises between the objectives of the Corporation set out in paragraphs (l) and (m) and the interests of any other broadcasting undertaking of the Canadian broadcasting system, it shall be resolved in the public interest, and where the public interest would be equally served by resolving the conflict in favour of either, it shall be resolved in favour of the objectives set out in paragraphs (l) and (m);

    • (o) programming that reflects the aboriginal cultures of Canada should be provided within the Canadian broadcasting system as resources become available for the purpose;

    • (p) programming accessible by disabled persons should be provided within the Canadian broadcasting system as resources become available for the purpose;

    • (q) without limiting any obligation of a broadcasting undertaking to provide the programming contemplated by paragraph (i), alternative television programming services in English and in French should be provided where necessary to ensure that the full range of programming contemplated by that paragraph is made available through the Canadian broadcasting system;

    • (r) the programming provided by alternative television programming services should

      • (i) be innovative and be complementary to the programming provided for mass audiences,

      • (ii) cater to tastes and interests not adequately provided for by the programming provided for mass audiences, and include programming devoted to culture and the arts,

      • (iii) reflect Canada’s regions and multicultural nature,

      • (iv) as far as possible, be acquired rather than produced by those services, and

      • (v) be made available throughout Canada by the most cost-efficient means;

    • (s) private networks and programming undertakings should, to an extent consistent with the financial and other resources available to them,

      • (i) contribute significantly to the creation and presentation of Canadian programming, and

      • (ii) be responsive to the evolving demands of the public; and

    • (t) distribution undertakings

      • (i) should give priority to the carriage of Canadian programming services and, in particular, to the carriage of local Canadian stations,

      • (ii) should provide efficient delivery of programming at affordable rates, using the most effective technologies available at reasonable cost,

      • (iii) should, where programming services are supplied to them by broadcasting undertakings pursuant to contractual arrangements, provide reasonable terms for the carriage, packaging and retailing of those programming services, and

      • (iv) may, where the Commission considers it appropriate, originate programming, including local programming, on such terms as are conducive to the achievement of the objectives of the broadcasting policy set out in this subsection, and in particular provide access for underserved linguistic and cultural minority communities.

  • Marginal note:Further declaration

    (2) It is further declared that the Canadian broadcasting system constitutes a single system and that the objectives of the broadcasting policy set out in subsection (1) can best be achieved by providing for the regulation and supervision of the Canadian broadcasting system by a single independent public authority.

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