CBC Television joins conventional television broadcasters in new initiative to protect local programming

September 14, 2009

CBC Television announced has joined with other major conventional Canadian broadcasters, CTV, Global and others, to create Local TV Matters, an alliance aimed at informing Canadians about critical issues affecting local television programming specifically and the conventional broadcasting model in general.

This fall, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) will be setting up a framework to permit conventional broadcasters and cable and satellite companies to negotiate a value for local signals.

As the CRTC deadline to receive submissions on these and other related issues comes due today, the broadcasters, in an unprecedented move, have determined the need to come together to reinforce the importance and value of diversity and choice within the Canadian media landscape, says Steven Guiton, CBC/Radio-Canada’s chief regulatory officer.

“Since the inception of cable and satellite services (known as Broadcast Distribution Undertakings or BDUs), local television signals have been available to those BDUs free of charge,” Guiton says. “However, over time and with the introduction of new technologies, and the fragmentation of advertising, this model is no longer economically sustainable. We’ve agreed to work together to inform and engage Canadians on the realities facing local television today.”

Local TV Matters has also indicated its concern over misinformation from cable and satellite companies, especially about the additional charges unnecessarily and unfairly being passed on to consumers as a “television tax.”

The CRTC has clearly indicated that broadcasters should enter negotiations with cable and satellite companies to establish a fair value for the signal they provide (similar to speciality and foreign channels), which is in effect a cost of doing business and not something to be borne by cable customers.

“The fact is, cable companies are attempting to disguise their self interest as public interest,” Guiton says. “Over the past five years, cable bills have gone up more than twice the cost of living and their profits have grown by more than a billion dollars. At the same time, we have had to reduce our people, programs and services, especially given the extremely difficult economic conditions over the past two years. We think it’s time for an informed discussion about what is arguably the most serious situation in the history of Canadian broadcasting.”

Local TV Matters has established a website to help enable Canadians to join the discussion.

This is an initiative relating only to the English market for the moment. The industry dynamic facing the French conventional broadcasters is significantly different. We will, over the coming weeks, also be taking measures to ensure that the financial circumstances of la Télévision de Radio-Canada is understood and its interests and its brand are protected.

CBC/Radio-Canada will make a formal submission to the CRTC laying out details of its position on this and other important regulatory matters on September 14th.

About CBC/Radio-Canada

CBC/Radio-Canada is Canada's national public broadcaster and one of its largest cultural institutions. The Corporation is a leader in reaching Canadians on new platforms and delivers a comprehensive range of radio, television, Internet, and satellite-based services. Deeply rooted in the regions, CBC/Radio-Canada is the only domestic broadcaster to offer diverse regional and cultural perspectives in English, French and eight Aboriginal languages, plus seven languages for international audiences.

For additional information, please contact:
  • Angus McKinnon
    Director, Communications Services and Corporate Spokesperson
    tel. 613-288-6235
    cel. 613-296-1057
    angus.mckinnon@cbc.ca

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