CBC/Radio-Canada is disappointed in the CRTC’s decision today not to grant conventional broadcasters access to subscription revenues, a move that is certain to result in the continued erosion of quality original Canadian television programming available on Canadian airwaves.
“The CRTC missed this opportunity to correct a failing model for television broadcasting in Canada,” said Hubert T. Lacroix, President and CEO of CBC/Radio-Canada. “All conventional broadcasters – public and private – need ad revenues to survive. They now make up over one third of CBC/Radio-Canada's total funding. But those revenues are quickly declining, a situation that is being exacerbated by the current economic climate. Access to subscriber fees – already available to specialty services – would have addressed that decline. Now the very broadcasters who serve the most Canadians and produce the most original Canadian programming have the fewest options for financing those programs.”
The Corporation notes the creation of a new Local Programming Improvement Fund (LPIF), established to ensure that viewers in smaller Canadian markets continue to receive a diversity of local programming, particularly in the news and current affairs genres. The fund, which will be financed by the Broadcast Distribution Undertakings (BDUs), is estimated to amount to $60M in its first year.
The CRTC’s decision follows a lengthy review of the regulatory frameworks for broadcasting distribution undertakings and discretionary programming services. During the review, CBC/Radio-Canada called for a level playing field that would give conventional broadcasters access to subscription revenues, and a basic low-priced, all-Canadian service that would grant Canadians more choice with respect to specialty channels.
While the Commission chose to ignore those recommendations, the decision rendered today is complex and will require more detailed analysis.
CBC/Radio-Canada is Canada's national public broadcaster and one of its largest cultural institutions. With 29 services offered on Radio, Television, the Internet, satellite radio, digital audio, as well as through its record and music distribution service and wireless WAP and SMS messaging services, CBC/Radio-Canada is available how, where, and when Canadians want it.
Through this array of activities, CBC/Radio-Canada brings diverse regional and cultural perspectives into the daily lives of Canadians in English, French and eight Aboriginal languages, in nine languages on its international Radio service, Radio Canada International, and in eight languages on its Web-based Radio service RCI viva, a service for recent and aspiring immigrants to Canada.