OTTAWA (NB) -- The Federal Court of Canada has ruled it illegal for Canadian TV viewers to receive television programming not authorized by the Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).
The ruling affects decoded signals received via direct-to-home satellite TV dishes.
The decision favors a group of Canadian broadcasters who argued they must purchase rights to various US programs to be rebroadcast to Canadian audiences. The group, including Family Channel, TMN Networks Inc., and Allarcom Pay Television Ltd., also said the practice violates Canadian cultural laws.
The Canadian DTH broadcasters testified that some Canadians use an American address to subscribe to direct-to-home broadcasts, which they receive on their pizza-sized satellite disks.
An estimated 300,000 such installations are believed to exist in Canada and were operating in a so-called legal "grey zone".
Direct-to-home TV broadcasting by Canadian firms was approved by the CRTC earlier this year.
American DTH broadcasters had been side-stepping the law by offering a decoder to Canadians which allowed them to view programming that had not been authorized by the CRTC.
The federal court ruling will make it unlawful for Canadian viewers to be billed for subscriptions via U.S. addresses.