Today, CBC/Radio-Canada filed a submission to the CRTC in advance of public hearings slated for November that will decide the future viability of conventional broadcasters and the local television service they provide.
In its submission, CBC/Radio-Canada documents the failing model for conventional television broadcasting in Canada. It also provides the Commission with a regulatory framework that would permit the CRTC to correct the current inequity that prevents broadcasters from receiving fair compensation for their signals and permits cable and satellite companies to free-ride in distributing these programming services to Canadians.
The economic model for conventional television is broken. CRTC filings indicate that the entire conventional private broadcast sector combined made profits of $8 million in 2008, a decline of 92 per cent from the previous year. The Canadian cable and satellite sector on the other hand made approximately $2 billion in profits in 2008 (PBIT) and grew at a rate of 33 per cent over the previous year. In fact, that $2 billion in profits is the same amount that all conventional private broadcasters made in revenue. Clearly, the system needs rebalancing if conventional broadcasters – and the Canadian programming they produce and air – are to survive. The group licensing framework that the Commission will be examining in the course of its hearings is not a solution to the fundamental issues facing the industry.
"Ensuring that CBC/Radio-Canada receives fair compensation for its signal is necessary to ensure that Canadians continue to see themselves, their stories and their news reflected on television both at a national and at a local level," said Hubert T. Lacroix, President and CEO of CBC/Radio-Canada. "In the absence of fair and proper compensation from cable and satellite companies, it will be impossible for us to continue to keep up with the evolving needs and expectations of Canadians, and to offer top quality Canadian programming."
In light of the importance of the issue, CBC/Radio-Canada announced this morning that it has joined with the two other major conventional Canadian broadcasters, CTV and Global, 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.
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.