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Thu Sep 6 12:27 pm  #1

CRTC’s Two-Year Future Forecast Raises Some Disturbing Questions

The CRTC came out with a look at its priorities for the next two years on Thursday, laying out an agenda for 2019-2021. Some of it is pretty generic. But a few of the items listed raise not only questions but eyebrows.

CRTC Broadcast Forecast 2019-2021
Its stated goal to start a national must carry ethnic station is already well known. It also plans to continue to study how to serve Indigenous populations on radio and TV. Nothing surprising there. Neither is “considering the applications of renewing the licences for CBC/Radio Canada." Is there even a chance that won’t happen? Where did I put that rubber stamp?
But where it gets interesting for me is that the Commission indicates it's planning a review of radio rules – including Canadian content levels. Could this mean a reduction in the amount going forward since the mandatory 30% rule has mostly resulted in a thriving Canadian recording industry and may no longer be needed? Or will it mean even more [shudder] Cancon in the future, driving what listeners are left even further to satellite and the Internet?
They’re also planning on finding ways to help support local TV news. But what do you make of this sentence? Examining ways to support television news production through increased access to subscription revenue.” Increased access to cable profits? Or just increased prices for consumers, so they can help pay for it? (My guess is the latter, but I suppose that headline awaits.)
And finally, Updating its definition of “Canadian programming expenditures” in the context of the digital environment.” Again, the devil will be in the details. But they just ordered Bell and Corus to increase their spending on Canuck shows, while Rogers remained the same. But you know how this works – if they ding them for the extra bucks, they’re going to get it out of your wallets, because that’s how this game has always been played.
I won’t say I fear the future. But this list from a regulatory body that rarely seems to care about the consumers it claims to serve certainly makes me wary – and it will be informative to see if they truly are focused on what's ahead or if it will be Back to the Future for broadcasting in this country. 


Thu Sep 6 6:04 pm  #2

Re: CRTC’s Two-Year Future Forecast Raises Some Disturbing Questions

There was a small fee added to Cable TV bills around 2009 to help keep local TV news on the air.  In its wisdom, the CRTC dropped this fee, supposedly because ad revenues had improved after The Great Recession.  The elimination of this fund lead to the bankruptcy of CHCH in Hamilton, since it had been drawing several million dollars a year.  So, I would not be opposed to the re-introduction of this fee if it would lead to improved news coverage at the local level.

The CBC charter has not been updated since the early nineties.  I think the mandate for the main network is too broad and its funding is spread too thin.  I am not sure whether the main network should be producing sports or entertainment programming anymore or whether it should even operate 24 hours per day.  I think the core CBC offerings are Radio One, Newschannel and its digital programming.  Everything else should be subject to review.  I am not suggesting its funding should be cut, but perhaps it should be re-allocated.