Acronym Decoder

I have a bad habit of using acronyms in my writing. I try to define them when I do but just in case, you can use this cheat sheet (which will expand as necessary over time):

4+ 1:  These are NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX (the four US networks) and PBS.  They are referred to this way as a short form for the four US networks and public broadcaster.

BDU – Broadcasting Distribution Undertaking. A defined term under the Broadcasting Act, it refers to cable and satellite companies.

Cat A – short for Category A or specialty channels like Food TV and Space, they currently have mandatory carriage and Canadian content exhibition and expenditure obligations

Cat B – short for Category B.  They are also referred to as ‘diginets’.  They do not have mandatory carriage and have to negotiate with each carrier.  As a result they have minimal Canadian programming exhibition and expenditure obligations though those with subscribers over 1 million do contribute to the Group Licence Policy.

Cat C – short for Category C.  This category covers news and sports which are open to competition and not subject to genre protection.

CAVCO – Canadian Audio-Visual Certification Office. This office certifies programs as Canadian for tax credit purposes. CAVCO certification is then used as eligibility for other funding programs.

CIPF – Certified Independent Production Funds.  The CRTC has certified these funds as being eligible to receive from the BDUs up to 20% of their BDU contribution to Canadian programming.  The full list of funds is here.

CMF – Canada Media Fund, fund drama, documentaries, variety and performing arts and children’s television programming and their digital extensions, as well as standalone digital through its Experimental Fund. Funded by BDU mandated contributions and Heritage.

CMPA – Canadian Media Production Association, the film and television producer’s association

COL – Condition of Licence.  Each Canadian broadcaster has specific conditions of licence regarding the types of programs that they can broadcast, Canadian content requirements, either a general or detailed narrative description of the service and many other conditions related to the specific service.  Conditions added to COLs are more enforceable than if they were merely included in a CRTC decision.

CPE – Canadian Programming Expenditure. The CRTC requires broadcasters to spend a percentage of their revenues on Canadian programming – their CPE.

CRTC – Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. This is the regulatory body that oversees television, radio, telephone, cable, satellite and internet systems to varying degrees.

DMBU – Digital Media Broadcasting Undertaking, formerly known as NMBU (see below).

GLP – Group Licence Policy.  This is the CRTC’s 2010 policy that allowed broadcast corporate groups to be licensed as a group (ie Bell Media rather than CTV separate from CTV2, Space, Comedy etc.) and pool their CPE and PNI CPE across the services in their group (on top of per service COLs).

ICT – Information and Communications Technology. See also IDM (sometimes interchangeable – sometimes ICT is the tech and IDM is the content – depends on the writer).

IDM – Interactive Digital Media

ISP – Internet Service Provider

LPIF – Local Programming Improvement Fund.  This fund was created in 2008 to help support local programming.  It was originally intended to finance incremental local programming but when the 2009 recession hit that was changed to fund existing local programming.  LPIF was financed by an additional BDU contribution which the BDUs passed on to consumers.  The CRTC decided in 2012 to phase out the LPIF  from 2012 to 2014 on the basis that the recession was over and broadcasters could support local programming without assistance.

NMBU – New Media Broadcasting Undertaking.  These are broadcasting services that are offered over the Internet and through mobile services.  NMBUs can be affiliated with a regulated broadcasting undertaking (e.g. or unaffiliated (e.g. Netflix).  They were originally defined under the 1999 New Media Exemption Order as amended in 2009 and renamed Digital Media Broadcasting Undertaking in 2012 (see above).

NoS – Nature of Service.  These are part of the conditions of licence (COL) for specialty services which define the kind of programming that they can broadcast.  Sometimes they are very specific (i.e. science fiction and fantasy) and other times very vague (the best of drama).

NSS – Non-Simultaneous Substitution.  Simulcast or Simsub or Simultaneous Substitution is a CRTC policy that allows Canadian broadcasters to broadcast US feeds – at the same time as the US feed – while stripping out the US ads so that they can sell the ad time to Canadian advertisers.  NSS would allow Canadian broadcasters to tape the feed, strip out the US ads, sell the ad time to Canadian advertisers and broadcast the US feed at the time of their choosing.

OLMC – Official Language Minority Communities – i.e. French outside of Quebec and English in Quebec.  This is a CRTC term only but relates to their mandate under the Broadcasting Act.

PBRC – Penetration Based Rate Cards.  This relates specifically to the relationship between BDUs and broadcasters.  PBRC means that if a service’s subscriber numbers go up (the penetration), then the rate that they charge the BDU for the service goes down.  If in a Pick and Pay model the subscribers go down, independent broadcasters want protections that they can increase their rates to maintain revenue.

PNI – Programs of National Interest. These are programs that the CRTC has determined should be supported through regulation: dramas, long form documentaries and award shows that support Canadian creativity. There is a CPE for PNI for some broadcasters as well as all Canadian programming.

VI – Vertical Integration or Vertically Integrated.  This short hand refers to cable or satellite companies which own broadcasters which in some cases also own production companies.  The CRTC’s ‘VI Code’ governs the relationship between BDUs and independent broadcasters so that the independent broadcasters are protected from market dominance by the vertically integrated companies.

VFS – Value for Signal.  Reluctantly including this acronym which differs slightly from the older FFC (Fee for Carriage).  The concept is the ability of OTA services to charge (or negotiate) a fee for BDUs to carry their signal.  It was seen as a way to financially support OTA but died away when the BDUs bought OTAs and the Supreme Court of Canada decided that the CRTC did not have jurisdiction to impose a VFS regulatory framework.  The issue is moot but the point does raise its head now and then in public hearings.

VPN – Virtual Private Network. A VPN extends a private network over a public network, or in other words an Intranet over the Internet. Lately media wonk discussion of VPNs has been in the context of Canadians using VPNs to illegally access Netflix U.S.


5 thoughts on “Acronym Decoder

  1. Pingback: Does Canadian TV need an overhaul? Maybe. Probably. | Butter Tarts and Brown Drinks

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  4. pika

    Too bad Cat A through C are not actual cats. 😿

    On another note, I very much enjoy your blog (despite the lack of feline goodness). Thank you very much. 🙂


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