Tag Archives: Vox

Community lacking in community TV

The CRTC will be holding a hearing this month about community television, and at least one group is hoping they will close loopholes (or even just curb abuses that aren’t even loopholes) that allow cable companies to use these channels as promotional arms.

The CRTC requires cable companies to devote 5% of their gross revenues to Canadian programming. Of that, 2% must go to a community channel, kind of like those “cable access channels” we hear about in the U.S.

Even though it’s a very small fraction of their money, the cable companies decided they would put it to good use. Instead of just giving it over to an independent community broadcaster, they’d run their own community networks. Rogers uses the moniker RogersTV. With Videotron, it’s VOX. Shaw TV, TVCogeco, you get the idea.

The problem with having the cable companies in control is that this can lead to abuses. Rogers is being accused of having too much advertising. Others of not keeping proper records (which, admittedly, is a chronic problem for many low-budget broadcasters).

But the biggest problem seems to be that the programming itself isn’t fulfilling its mandate:

The CRTC audits found that Cogeco, Rogers, Shaw, and Persona all classified staff-produced news and other programming-even MTV promos in one instance-as “access programming”. Some Eastlink systems reported no access programming at all.

“The CRTC’s data show that Canada’s ‘community’ channels have become promotional tools for cable companies,” said Catherine Edwards, spokesperson for CACTUS.

A look at VOX, Videotron’s community channel, and you can see what they mean. A show devoted to TVA’s Star Académie. A show put together by a (former) Quebecor-owned weekly newspaper. Quebecor personalities are all over the schedule.

Sure, there’s the “Mise à jour [city name here]”, and the half hour where they show traffic cameras. But I don’t see much access here, nor do they make obvious how someone could get involved.

Perhaps the era of community television is over. We no longer need cable access when we have Internet access. People can just put their videos on YouTube. (Ratings certainly suggest that, with market shares of 0.1 and 0.2%.)

But until the CRTC makes that determination, cable companies should start playing by the rules – the spirit as well as the letter.

UPDATE (May 15): La Presse’s Marc Cassivi also thinks Vox isn’t doing what it should as far as community programming.

On s’en fou un peu

You know, every time I see Prenez Garde aux Chiens, I wonder: What are these people doing on VOX?

The video above is a good parody of the whole TQS situation with the CRTC that I found on Richard Therrien’s blog. (Incidentally, there are some people – mostly male – who wonder if Bleu Nuit will return to the airwaves.)

Also be sure to check out member David Lemelin’s interview with Christiane Charette on Première Chaîne.

Cable-access idol

Vox, Videotron’s community channel, is conducting a contest to decide on its newest TV series. Three finalists have been invited to create pilots, and viewers vote on their favourite. The winner gets a 12-episode deal for 2008.

Razzia is a show about fantasy photo shoots. Its pilot episode follows actress Mélissa Desormeaux-Poulin as she fulfills a dream of being photographed as a beat up boxer. (The video of pre-production answers a few questions about how it works.)

My take: Score one for a very original idea for a series. (Either that, or having stolen an idea from an obscure enough source.) But while it shows a lot of the photo shoot itself, there’s very little interview with the subject, and why she wants to be photographed in this way. There might be some interesting stories behind these dreams, but we’re not getting them. It’s hard to see a long-term series being based only on someone being made up and photographed.

Also, the cinematography is downright annoying. Tilted camera angles and ultra-fast zooms do not make an uninteresting interview more interesting. Try more editing and less dizzying camera movement.

Triple W is a … well, it’s hard to explain. It’s a sitcom about guys who create online comedy sketches, interspersed with humorous man-in-the-street interviews. You know what, I’ll just let them explain it. The pilot episode is about junk food.

My take: Humour is one of the things I think can work in low-budget productions. It’s more about the ideas and writing than special effects or high production values. But I’m not crazy about this meta concept (surely a standard clip show would be easier to understand), nor the cheesy animated web graphics.

Ultime is a show about extreme sports. It also has something to do with disabled kids or something, though the kids don’t participate in the extreme sports. The pilot involves people repelling down a rope tied to a bridge. (Pre-production video)

My take: Extreme sports shows have been done before, and I don’t see much new here. The poor-disabled-kids angle seems tacked on and pointless.

(via Yannou)