CRTC Boss Slams TV Execs as Yacht-Owning Complainers

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Jean-Pierre Blais says Canada’s democracy is under threat as broadcasters cut back local TV news

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CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais says 'corporate executives cannot bury their heads in the sand and pretend that change isn't happening. They must rise up and meet the challenge of a new content era head on.'

CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais says ‘corporate executives cannot bury their heads in the sand and pretend that change isn’t happening. They must rise up and meet the challenge of a new content era head on.’ (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)
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Canada’s broadcast regulator mounted a vocal defence of television journalism Wednesday, while slamming the executives who run the stations as wealthy yacht-owning complainers who are out of touch with changing audiences.

CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais said he is tired of broadcast executives coming before his committee to tell him the “cupboards are bare,” and that they can no longer afford to fund local news without government subsidies.

“Local television news is failing us. But it need not. The system sits at a position of strength,” Blais said in a luncheon speech at the Canadian Club in Toronto. “In 2014, TV stations spent more than $470 million on local programming and news … the industry is rich in resources.

“I listened as Canadians spoke with intelligence and passion [about local TV news], while corporate executives who own luxury yachts and private helicopters came looking for subsidies,” Blais said.

The CRTC has held a number of hearings on the future of local TV in recent months, and regulators are studying whether changes are necessary to preserve local news coverage.

Many stations have found their traditional financial model under threat amid a changing landscape for advertising and consumer viewing habits.

A recent report warned nearly half of the country’s local TV stations could be off the air by 2020 without a boost in revenues to pay for local programming.

The industry has been hobbled by the loss of the Local Programming Improvement Fund (LPIF), which was established during the 2008 market downturn to help struggling local stations. The fund was paid for through a levy on cable and satellite subscribers.

The fund paid out about $100 million annually to private broadcasters and CBC stations, but the CRTC phased it out in 2012.

READ MORE  HERE  AT THE CBC NEWS WEBSITE

7 COMMENTS

  1. I think it’s about time someone at that mostly useless organization pointed out some of the avaricious fallacies that have been denuding broadcasting content for years.
    If the Rogers or Shaw families (for example) could be satisfied with say, a 1% reduction in personal profits, they could populate many (MANY) newsrooms across the country. And Jimmy wouldn’t have to sell even one yatch, Lear jet or chopper.

  2. I call bs on the CRTC Chairman. It’s on his watch that a handful of large corporations have been allowed to control every aspect of Canadian media. They’ve been able to buy yachts and jets because the CRTC has given Rogers, Bell and Shaw a virtual monopoly to fleece Canadians. Don’t broadcasters have an obligation to the public for the privilege of using the public airwaves? Not on the watch of Blais. He’s had his snout in the government trough while thousands of jobs in broadcasting have been eliminated. Blais is a perfect example of judging people by what they do not what they say.

  3. FWIIW, here’s what the yacht-owning executives have come up with, reluctantly, for their mandatory $25 TV package, due March 1. This is the lineup for Shaw’s Limited TV package. Unless noted as otherwise, a channel is SD only. The net effect is that what Shaw is billing as a package of 40 channels is actually just 25 or so.

    Vancouver channels:
    CBC (SD, HD)
    Knowledge (SD, HD)
    CTV 9 (SD, HD)
    Shaw Community
    Shaw Multicultural
    Omni (SD, HD)
    Global (SD, HD)
    Joytv
    CityTV (SD, HD)

    Victoria channels:
    CHEK (SD, HD)
    CTV Two (SD, HD)

    Specialty channels:
    APTN (SD, HD)
    BC legislature
    CPAC
    Weather (HD)

    French channels:
    CBC French
    RDI
    TVA
    TV5
    CPAC

    American channels:
    ABC KOMO (SD, HD)
    CBS KIRO (SD, HD)
    NBC KING (SD, HD)
    FOX KCPQ (SD, HD)
    PBS KCTS (SD, HD)

  4. I don’t understand why the US network stations – other than PBS – are included in this basic package. Other than local news, the programs these stations carry are usually simulcast by local “Canadian” channels. I would rather lose the US networks and have a “Canadian” service of my choice included instead. We should also be given the option of choosing an English language package or a French language package. There is no reason to have stations that nobody watches included in a basic package. Mind you, if these subtitled their programs into the other official language, then it would make sense.

    I still think these “Canadian” stations will be mostly cable only stations within five years – we will see smaller markets shut down their transmitters entirely.

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