Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to address again the subject of pay-per-view television.
Two proposals were submitted to the CRTC: one by Astral and one by Chapiteau, a consortium formed by the CBC's French network, TVA, TQS, Radio-Québec and Cogeco. Neither proposal was accepted. The commissioners, who could not agree among themselves, refused to issue a licence for one of the two tv proposals aimed at francophones.
Three commissioners, two francophones and chairman Keith Spicer, agreed with Chapiteau, but they were the minority. However, we are talking about a vital instrument for the development of French culture, which would have competed with English language specialized channels and new U.S. tv content.
Pay-per-view television is a relative newcomer to Canadian tv. In March 1991, Viewer's Choice Canada, a joint venture, obtained a network licence to offer a pay-per-view television service.
In Montreal, Vidéotron subscribers, the majority of whom are francophones, already have access to English-language pay-per-view television via the Viewer's Choice channel, in which Astral has a majority interest.
The Quebec Minister of Culture has asked the federal government to review the CRTC's decision. It is unacceptable that francophones should be deprived of this service. We are being deprived of an optional cultural channel that is an indispensable adjunct to developing the creative potential of Quebecers and francophones in Canada.
This decision totally ignores Quebec's position on the development of new tv services. This comes in addition to the judgment by the Supreme Court on telephone services and the federal government's failure to allow Quebec to control its own instruments for economic and cultural development.
We cannot tolerate this situation. The minister must intervene, first in cabinet, and then demand that the CRTC, as provided under section 28(1) of the Broadcasting Act, amend its recent decision.
We cannot tolerate that the CRTC, as a result of this decision, should treat francophones differently. We are simply asking for fair treatment.
At the same time, the CRTC issued eight out of ten licences to English-language channels, which means francophones have to pay for channels whose programming does not necessarily reflect their concerns or cultural interests.
Not surprisingly, we are not satisfied with this outcome, and our conclusion is that our interests are not well served. I would therefore ask the minister to refer the issue to cabinet and have the CRTC review its recent decision.