by Terry Pedwell, The Canadian Press Aug. 22 2014
OTTAWA – Some local TV stations will be forced to close and more than 30,000 people could lose their jobs if Canada’s broadcast regulator adopts changes it wants Canadians to consider, says a broadcast industry watchdog group.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission proposed new regulations this week that would, among other things, allow consumers to pick the individual channels they want from cable and satellite service providers.
The so-called “pick-and-pay” option would come on top of a trimmed-down mandatory service, a “skinny basic” package of local and mostly Canadian content that’s also being proposed by the CRTC.
In a document released Thursday, the regulator suggested a cap of between $20 and $30 could be imposed on basic TV packages.
The CRTC also proposed banning service providers from airing Canadian advertising over simulcast American programming — what’s known in the industry as simultaneous substitution.
Friends of Canadian Broadcasting warns that the combined measures, if enacted, could force up to 19 TV stations to shut their doors.
“The CRTC’s proposed changes would be a recipe for station closure and a body blow to Canadian programming,” Friends spokesman Ian Morrison said in a statement provided to The Canadian Press.
“They would make it tougher to meet the worthy objectives of the Broadcasting Act which the CRTC is required to uphold.”
The group estimates that, by 2020, the changes as laid out would result in the loss of 31,460 jobs, with more than 13,000 being chopped from the broadcasting and production industries alone.
For the Canadian economy, it would be a $2.9-billion blow, the group warned.
The CRTC stresses that its proposed changes are not set in stone, but are simply a framework for public consultations that have been extended until mid-September.
But if the changes were to be enacted, the Coalition of Small Market Independent Television Stations, known as SMITS, has said in a submission to the regulator that the proposals “put in question the very viability of SMITS across Canada.”
“This is not a threat, it is a reality,” said the coalition, which represents 19 independent stations.
TV broadcasters in some of the country’s smallest markets warn that they are vulnerable, particularly in Kamloops, B.C., Medicine Hat and Lloydminster, Alta., Thunder Bay, Ont., and Riviere du Loup, Que.
Bell Media’s CTV2 network of stations in Victoria, B.C., London, Ottawa, Barrie and Pembroke, Ont., are also said to be at risk.
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