Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Breaking news: the sky is falling

Timing is everything, and don’t the networks know it. Can it be a coincidence that Canwest and CTV have chosen the same few days to complain about losing so much money that massive job cuts are absolutely the only way out? In today’s roundup of announcements, CTV says it’s cutting 118 jobs in its A Channel newsrooms in Ottawa, London and Barrie, in addition to closing stations in Windsor and Wingham, Ontario (announced last week).

This happens to be the very day the CRTC planned to go public with the networks’ various license applications – the submissions in which they tell Canadians what they intend to do in exchange for access to our public airwaves. This is when all the pre-CRTC hearing lobbying begins. What better way to make your case that you need new relaxed rules than to eliminate service to the public and lay people off?

Only last Friday, CTV’s chief executive officer Ivan Fecan said the company would at least try to make a go of it with the A Channels. “We’re merely trying to keep the As open until regulatory restructuring for the entire sector can take place. While we welcome the new, year-long CRTC process and while we can’t guarantee the survival of the As until that time, together we will do our best.”

What changed in three days? Perhaps a peak at other broadcasters’ filings? Why do more than your competitors? A cursory read of the hundreds of pages that we all have to read in less than a month is eyeopening.

For example, we learned today that even though Canwest is abandoning at least five local markets, it wants more breaks. It wants to do fewer hours of local television on the stations it decides are profitable enough to keep. And it wants permission from the CRTC to be able to continue to do simultaneous substitution of lucrative U.S. shows (of course!) and get “priority carriage” on cable and satellite…but it doesn’t want to have to bother actually being a broadcaster. It’s asking for these privileges even if it doesn’t send out its signal free over-the-air – just directly to cable and satellite.

Not only is this an attack on local television, it’s an attack on free television. Oh, and did we remind you how horrible it is for conventional broadcasters right now? We trust the CRTC will demand to see those numbers, station by station, and release them to the public.


  1. The CRTC are lackeys of the private broadcasters getting ready to grab their ankles in Hull for the latest rubber stamp of less Canadian commitment and local production by CTV and Global. Rogers will soon follow suit.
    They've all seen the light and it is shinning from Toronto and Quebec of how to have a license with out really doing any local programming of substance.
    SunTV, Toronto and TQS, Montreal have been operating like this.
    SunTV for about 3 1/2 years and TQS since it canned its news service last year.
    Nothing will happen with the CRTC they're afraid to offend the private broadcasters and the Conservatives who owe their ears to donations by our private media conglomerates.

  2. Go Private Industry..... Or how can it be private if its controlled by Government Interests. Oh, forgot everyone is afraid of losing their Canadian Identity.... Eh hem ... We need the CRTC..... Because Canadians don’t use the internet and don’t download foreign (us) content when it’s not available through the regulated media outlets.... Yeah I can see with these constrains, the awesome choice here is to produce more Canadian content that no one wants to watch.... http://www.youtube.com/nfb?gl=CA&hl=en

    Come on, who the F**k cares what goes to air. Canadians have brains. If it’s good they will watch it. If they watch it, it makes money.... Simple concept?? Why regulate and pretend that the CRTC has an impact on Canadian Viewing habits in the internet Age...?? The number of choices available to viewers fall far outside the CRTC’s control. Unless Canada is planning to implement policies similar to China http://www.cfr.org/publication/11515/


    Long Live the CRTC.... Please take away more of my freedoms.... I am a dumb A** .... I should not be left to choose my own content please regulate me.

    Lise... I guess you don't watch the channels you work for. Do you pay attention to the Ads that go to air... Do us all a favor... Pay attention... you will notice the ads that air will no be able to pay your salary.... So if nothing is done....I guess you could go and work for WalMart.....


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