So much for HDTV Networks

Remember back in December when we heard about this new outfit that wanted to startup a national, over-the-air HDTV network to compete with Global, CTV and others? And then we found out the suggested programming was crap and involved no local production whatsoever?

Well, surprise surprise, the CRTC has denied the application. In its decision, the commission cites the lack of local programming as the main issue (HDTV amended the application to say they could go with two hours a week), saying the others average about 22 hours a week of local programming (really? In what universe?). It also took issue with its demands to be carried on standard-definition cable systems.

What’s interesting (and went uncovered in the media because it wasn’t in the press release everyone copied from) is that the decision included a rare dissenting opinion from commissioner Len Katz, a Montrealer who used to work for Rogers (ironic since Rogers was an intervenor in this case). He argues that a company willing to invest millions in Canadian television shouldn’t be dismissed so easily:

While I agree with my colleagues that a primary issue relevant to the Commission’s determinations in this proceeding relates to the provision of local programming, I strongly believe the Broadcasting Act is equally clear that the Canadian broadcasting system should encourage the development of Canadian expression and diversity of views.

Though I agree with the CRTC’s decision, Katz’s comment is quite valid. The problem is that once we change the rules for one, it sets a precedent others will demand we follow. Considering local television is a dying breed as it is, this isn’t the direction I’d like to see the CRTC go in.

So for those of you looking forward to the booming 450 Watt Montreal station with no local programming, you’ll have to wait a bit longer.

No to YES

In the same breath, the CRTC also denied an application for YES TV, a Toronto-based HD broadcast station with unrealistic projections of revenue and a programming schedule that relied far too much on user-generated content.

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