CRTC Commissioner Critical of ‘Selfish’ Presentations


Broadcast Dialogue offers an excellent summary of the “Let’s Talk Tv” hearings


At the end of the first week’s CRTC hearing on the future of television, Commissioner Candice Molnar (pictured above) expressed frustration with the presentations. “We’re having an entire proceeding where no one wants anything taken away from them,” she said, “and yet we’re in a system of change.”

As the CRTC continued its examination of the future of television this week, highlights of presentations include:

Corus Entertainment — CEO John Cassaday focussed on three prime topics; Canadians should have the right to select the status quo as a default; the Commission should test the carriage proposals under consideration and the potential impacts on the market; and that a mechanism be maintained for Canadian children to have access to the type of world-class Canadian content they now have as established by regulation and codes.

Further, he said, a push into an a la carte system could paralyze many Canadians who would likely default to something that resembles skinny basic and Netflix. The damage, he said, would be irreparable.

Shaw Communications — Peter Bissonnette, the president of the company, said Shaw has serious concerns that many of the proposals will not benefit Canadians, are inconsistent with the Canadian content objectives of the Act and will undermine the strength of our broadcasting system in an increasingly competitive global
marketplace. Further, he said, the Commission should not impose a mandatory small basic fee.

Barbara Williams, now executive VP, broadcasting at Shaw Communications and president of Shaw Media, said a mandatory pick-and-pay regime will increase prices for the vast majority, threaten the viability of services, resulting in lost jobs and less program diversity and ultimately reduce contributions to Canadian programming,
harming independent producers and decreasing both the quantity and the quality of Canadian content.

Rogers –- VP Pam Dinsmore rejected the idea of allowing viewers to pay for TV channels one at a time but agrees with a proposal to offer a smaller basic service that includes ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX and PBS. She also rejected a price cap on service.

CBC/Radio Canada — President Hubert Lacroix said new sources of funding are vital to ensure CBC’s survival. And corporation execs told the television hearing that Canadians are ready to pay to get CBC content even though many consider it an acquired right. CBC joined the Ontario government in calling for Netflix and similar
services to pay into a fund that supports Canadian content.

Telus — Telus suggested that sports channels be left out of an inexpensive, stripped-down basic channel package. It also argued that cable companies originating programming shouldn’t be allowed to offer it exclusively online, such as the Shomi service that Rogers and Shaw have partnered on to offer their subscribers.

The Walt Disney Co. — VP Susan Fox joined the major cable companies in opposing an ending to simultaneous substitution. As it now stands, Canadian networks pay for U.S. programming and recoup those costs through substituting ads. But Fox said that a repeal of that strategy would lead to the end of a separate and distinct
Canadian market for U.S. programming, “… an unfortunate result of a well-intended regulatory measure.”


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