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Updated: Thu, 19 Dec 2013 12:05:09 GMT | By The Canadian Press, cbc.ca

News channels must be offered to all TV customers by May

News channels must be offered to all TV customers by May

The federal broadcast regulator says cable and satellite companies must give their customers the option of subscribing to any Canadian news service they want, either in bundles or a la carte, no later than next spring.

"Canadian news services are an important part of our democracy,” Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission chair Jean-Pierre Blais said in a release on the CRTC's website Thursday.

“With the rules we are announcing today, Canadians, as citizens, will have access to the news services that are of interest to them and will therefore have an opportunity to be exposed to a variety of opinions on matters of public concern."

May deadline

Among the measures announced is a requirement that Canadians be given the option to subscribe to all Canadian news services, either in bundles or à la carte, no later than May 18, 2014.

As it stands, upstart news services such as Sun News Network are not currently available as an option to subscribe to by customers of certain cable and satellite television providers.

The move comes after the CRTC last summer rejected Sun News Network's bid for mandatory carriage status, which would have forced cable and satellite companies to carry it on all basic digital and analog services.

However, in doing so the regulator acknowledged there are significant obstacles facing newly launched news services.

The CRTC also said at the time that it would review the framework for national news services in the same category as Sun News Network, including CBC News Network and CTV News Channel.

Sun News had described mandatory carriage as do-or-die for the news channel owned by media giant Quebecor.

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