Buying U.S. satellite TV service a crime under proposed bill (Canada)


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Supporting Founder
Sep 8, 2003
Las Vegas, Nevada
OTTAWA - Buying satellite access to your favourite TV show may soon be a crime, if you pay your money to a foreign satellite television service. Critics of the proposed legislation say the burden will fall most heavily on immigrant communities.

Under Bill C-2, anyone who subscribes to a foreign satellite television service could face criminal penalties, including the possibility of a year in prison. The legislation is aimed at obliging viewers to buy their satellite service from Canadian companies. The Canadian Association of Broadcasters estimates it loses $400 million a year to when people buy from American satellite TV providers.

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"If we have a law that does not have prohibitive penalties, that will discourage people from engaging in illegal activity, the criminal activity will continue and flourish," Glen O'Farrell, the president of the CAB said.

Critics of the legislation say the bill makes no distinction between people who take Canadian satellite signals without paying and those who pay U.S. providers for channels the Canadian industry isn't willing to offer.

Most of the channels involved offer programming in foreign languages such as Russian, Arabic or Spanish. Canadian providers say the Canadian market is too small to make it worth their while to offer a wide selection of these channels.

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Among those critics is Paul Fitzgerald of the IberoAmerican Congress of Canada. He has a dish and pays a monthly subscription fee to Bell ExpressVu. But the company won't carry his favorite show on Mexican channel Telemundo, even though it is licensed for broadcast in Canada. Fitzgerald pays an additional fee to a U.S. provider, which would make him a criminal under the proposed legislation.

"This is the equivalent of somebody going into Chapters and trying to find a book and Chapters says 'we don't actually sell that book.' So you buy it from If Chapters then turned around and complained, you'd have to say 'well, look, you had the choice of selling me the book but you chose not to do that.'"

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