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Vital for Public to Weigh in on Community TV

by Roddy Doucet (CACTUS)


The CRTC has begun its review of complaints of non-compliance with the CRTC's community TV policy against Canada's five largest telecommunications companies.  The complaints have been submitted by community groups and the Canadian Association of Community Television Users and Stations (CACTUS).

 

Almost such complaints have now been filed against Shaw, Rogers, Cogeco, Eastlink, and Videotron community channels, accounting for more than 80% of licensed cable systems.  Cable operators are expected to air 60% local content and 50% content produced by community members during any given week, but the majority of them fail to meet these minima.  The public will have 30 days to 'weigh in' regarding the complaints, which are being posted at https://services.crtc.gc.ca/Pub/Instances-Proceedings/Default-Defaut.aspx?S=O&PA=B&PT=PT1&PST=A&lang=en.

 

Catherine Edwards, spokesperson for CACTUS, said, “It's important for members of the public living in these communties to share their experiences with their community channel.  Is it airing relevant local content?  Have they been offered media training and accessed the facilities to promote community events?  Does the cable operator tell them these opportunities are available?”

 

The CRTC has also opened a more general online forum for Canadians to share their views as it begins a review of its policy framework for both local and community TV on Monday, January 25th in Gatineau.  The review will last for 10 days and can be viewed live on CPAC's web site at www.cpac.ca.  More than twenty community media organizations will be appearing.

 

Edwards elaborated, “We surmise that the CRTC didn't receive enough input from the public prior to its November 6th written comment deadline for this review.  Since the community TV sector directly impacts the public's access to media training and participation, it's fundamentally important that the public weigh in.  The CRTC has reopened this portal at http://consultation.crtc.gc.ca/en/consultation/36/community-television until February 3rd, the last day of the hearings: 

 

CACTUS' submission to the hearing process details how the vast majority of the over 300 cable community channels that once served Canadian communities large and small have been shuttered, following the process of technical interconnection and ownership consolidation in the cable industry.  “Cable companies don't have a presence in small communities anymore, except for the cables themselves.  Communities need to be in the driver's seat in managing community channel budgets, so that they can reopen media centres that serve their need for digital media training and local coverage, on whatever platform and whatever media.  The legacy model of cable-only traditional TV is something from the last century.”

 

CACTUS details how more than $151 million currently spent by cable companies on the relatively few big-city 'community channels' that remain could be better deployed by communities themselves from coast to coast to coast, and respond to the need for digital multilplatform content and for citizens to have a voice in broadcasting.

 

CACTUS will appear before the Commission on the morning of Tuesday, January 26th.  The Community Media Policy Working Group (the group that organzed November's 'Community Media Convergence at Carleton University in Ottawa) appears on Monday, February 1st.

 

Contact:   Catherine Edwards (819) 456-2237 or follow the hearings on www.cpac.ca.


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