Grab the popcorn, the real local TV debate is about to begin

On Monday, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission will finally get down to meeting about the future of conventional broadcast television, and through a series of hearings lasting at least a week, will hear arguments from broadcasters, cable and satellite companies, unions, producers, and maybe even a few television watchers, about whether those who freely transmit television signals over the airwaves should be paid a fee by cable and satellite companies currently mandated to distribute that signal. If it does, it will then have to decide who pays for it, how much it will be (or how it’s negotiated) and where the money will go.

To prepare for it, TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paikin has a long panel discussion with four experts: the uncomfortably smiley Ian Morrison of Friends of Canadian Broadcasting (who supports fee for carriage), the knowledgeable but detached Grant Robertson of the Globe and Mail, the nerdy Michael Geist (who, like Andrew Coyne, supports deregulation and increased consumer choice), and Norm Bolen, who represents producers (and supports fee for carriage) as president of the Canadian Film and Television Production Association.

In the Globe and Mail, the story is told through the eyes of two former Canwest E! network stations: CHCH Hamilton, which was bought by Channel Zero and is trying to build a business model around being an all-news station during the day (70 hours a week of local news), and CHCA Red Deer, which it seems hasn’t been missed much since it was shut down on Aug. 31.

Meanwhile, even though the deadline for public comments has passed, both the Local TV Matters people and the Stop the TV Tax people are still running ads. The former has created a new one, which as usual vastly oversimplifies the issue.

6 thoughts on “Grab the popcorn, the real local TV debate is about to begin

  1. adsf

    the top story of ctv local news – so you think you can dance

    they spent 5 minutes on this super important local story

    its just endless promotion for ctv … there is no local news

    even the sports – most teams they talk about aren’t local why should i care

    weather … same thing

    entertainment – most of its us movies / tv shows

    there is no local stories left

  2. Ice Elf

    How many channels do you need? 100? 200? 50 million? How many can you possibly watch? What exactly are you paying for? To be advertised to?

    To me, paying to watch television is, perhaps, one of the most bizarre endeavors any reasonable person can undertake. Why would anyone in their right mind pay to be advertised to, while watching garbage?

    I’ll concede that, with a subscription to cable or satellite TV, there is simply a lot more garbage to choose from — as opposed to an over the air (pure, uncompressed digital) signal. Again, how much garbage can any one person pay to watch?

  3. Homer

    So wait, let me get this straight. If I sign up for Videotron, I have to pay 14.99 for the ‘base 40’ package and then I add extra channels on top either in a package, or by groups of 10,20,30, etc. Channels beyond my package vary, but start a 2.00 dollars and go to 15 dollars or more/month.
    Local TV is, as far as I know, included in the 14.99 basic package, right?

    1. Fagstein Post author

      It’s all a matter of interpretation. First of all, basic cable is literally a cable, a physical cable that enters your home, and the infrastructure costs that come with transmitting signals to your television set or set-top box. That, plus the wholesale costs for must-carry channels like Newsworld and CPAC, are the costs for the cable company.

      Whether you think cable is charging you for conventional television is kind of like whether you think Lays is charging you for the oxygen in the bag of potato chips. I guess you could make the argument that they are, but that’s not really the point.

  4. Jamal

    So Nadir Mohamed, President and Chief Operating Officer of Rogers Communications stated at today’s CRTC hearings that the dire situations faced by CTV and Global are due to them spending too much on US programming, which I fully agree with. But that statement is very hypocritical of him and Rogers, as CITY-TV now spends more on US programming than it ever did in the past, and most of CITY-TV’s primetime schedule is now American as well.

    Hypocritical statements and practices at best.



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