The CRTC is in the midst of an ongoing review of the local and
community television policy framework (http://crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2015/2015-421.htm).
Among the issues in its call for comments is to assess the
availability of local programming throughout the broadcasting
system and "the manner in which both the private and the
community elements may contribute to its production". The CRTC
asked for public input on how best to ensure that compelling local
news and other programming that is both locally relevant and
locally reflective is made available to Canadians. The CRTC also
asked for comments on whether existing funding mechanisms can be
allocated to be more accountable and responsive to viewer demands
and preferences for local content.
Other stakeholders have proposed that local and community TV
should fall under an integrated regulatory framework. Rogers
Communications argued that media groups that operate both
over-the-air (OTA) television stations and a community channel (in
the Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal markets) should "reduce
significantly or close altogether its community channel in that
market" and then be permitted to reallocate funding to OTA
stations and community channels it operates outside those major
markets. Under this proposal, all required Canadian Programming
Expenditure (CPE) requirements of the larger broadcaster groups
would be devoted to local programming.
Similarly, Shaw Communications also proposed more flexibility
between OTA stations and community channels such as co-productions.
In its comments, Shaw stated that allowing partnerships,
co-productions and program sharing among OTA stations and community
channels could result in "more distinguishable, high-quality
local news and current affairs that could garner audience on both
local OTA and community television."
Even non-vertically integrated BDUs such as Telus agreed with
the need to lessen local TV broadcasters' obligations to
produce commercial local programming. Telus submitted that it would
be more appropriate "to instead rely on the community element
to originate locally relevant and reflective programming in the
The Small Market Independent Television Stations Coalition,
whose members include small market OTA stations owned by companies
such as Jim Pattison Broadcast Group, Corus, RNC Media,
Newfoundland Broadcasting and CHEK TV, noted the significant drop
in margins for small market OTA stations and have recommended a new
private local television fund with earmarked funding for small
market OTA stations. The funding would also be also harvested from
existing BDU contributions to programming funds.
It is anticipated that the new policy framework will be issued
in Spring 2016.
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