Thursday, October 30th: Canadian Television’s Darkest Day?

Television content suppliers: broadcast networks, specialty channels, and TV program producers are warily awaiting a statement by the Canadian Radio Television and Telecommunications Commission, the CRTC. Cable and satellite service providers are equally as anticipatory about the decision, which will be announced on Thursday, October 30th.

On that day, the CRTC will reveal the results of months of deliberation, on what the Canadian viewing public will watch on television and where they’ll be able to watch it. Among the many conditions being defined will be “What is basic cable?”, meaning what channels are included as “basic” and what broadcast properties are not. Which broadcasters and producers will receive public funding? How much Canadian content will each channel be required to carry? Currently, specialty channels must meet percentage requirements, while basic channels buy mostly American programming.

There is also an issue of cable and satellite service providers, or BDU’s, exercising control over how much subscribers must pay for each channel. Basic cable is…well, basic. Channels included under the “basic” category are available to everyone under one flat rate, while channels that are “specialty” cost extra, may not be available from some BDU’s, and certainly don’t get promoted in the same manner as their “basic” counterparts.

Summarily, the CRTC will determine the extent that Canadian television will truly represent diversity in our national media. Indirectly, they could possibly relegate a number of broadcast companies to relative exile, some production companies to imminent closure, and many broadcast technical and creative professionals to inevitable job loss.

The discussions and debates surrounding the CRTC’s decision process are covered in “TV WARS: Media, Money and the Battle for Canada’s Airwaves”, a Stornoway Productions documentary, airing on Stornoway Communications’ three digital channels:

· ichannel will air the program on Monday, October 27th at 7:00pm ET and on Wednesday, October 29th at 10pm ET.
· bpm:tv will feature the special on Wednesday, October 29th, at 9:00pm ET.
· The Pet Network will present the documentary on Wednesday, October 29th at 8:00pm ET.

As Ted Rogers stated in his autobiography, ‘Relentless – The True Story of the Man Behind Rogers Communications’, “We need companies that can tell Canadian stories and paint Canadian dreams.” Now, many await October 30th to find out if the CRTC will impose upon the cable / satellite industry the mandate to portray those words.

For further information, contact:
Rosemary Fusca, Head of Programming, (416) 756-5523, rfusca@stornoway.com

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