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Mediocracy Pilot Launches Sunday, November 20th at 8 p.m. ET

The pilot episode of `Medi@cracy' launches on Sunday, November 20th at 8 p.m. Eastern The series will enable Canadians to participate in call-in and Tweeted discussions with media thinkers regarding the 'big' media questions of our time in our 150th anniversary year.

The show will be hosted by CACTUS Executive Director Catherine Edwards, and Simon Van Vliet, the President of the Association des journalistes indépendants du Québec, in a bilingual format to encourage cross-country dialogue on issues that affect us all, such as media ownership concentration, net neutrality, and media diversity.

The show will be carried on Bell ExpressVu channel 539 (St. Andrews Community TV) as well as streamed from www.Mediocracy.ca.

The Nov. 20th pilot episode will enable viewers and listeners to join the conversation by phone and Twitter, considering the questions posed by the Canadian Heritage Minister in the on-going "Canadian Content in a Digital World" consultations.

Regular episodes will commence in January.

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Last Week to Submit Ideas to "Canadian Content in a Digital World"

November 25th is the deadline to submit your thoughts to the "Canadian Content in a Digital World" consultation being conducted by the Heritage Minister.

Behind the consultation is the changing environment for Canadian periodicals and audio-visual content, and the exponential growth of video gaming. If we can no longer ensure that there minimum percentages of Canadian content in magazines, radio and television content (because more and more content is available from online sources such as Netflix, which originate beyond our borders), how do we make sure there's enough Canadian content to reflect our communities, regions and nation back to ourselves? How do we ensure that media continues to fulfill its democratic function in the unregulated world of the Internet? What policies do we need at a national level to support our creators and the distribution of Canadian content?

To share your views, go to Canadian Content in a Digital World by this Friday, November 25th.

CACTUS has contributed to the consultation by organizing four public events with partners in Toronto, Vancouver, and Ottawa, and culminating in the airing of a live TV show on Sunday, November 20th, which will enable Canadians to phone in and Tweet with their comments, which will be submitted to the consultation.

The first event was offered in partnership with Regent Park Focus, a youth multimedia arts centre in Toronto on November 2nd on Media Literacy Day. The event solicited answers to the Heritage Minister's questions from the point of view of digital media literacy.

On Thursday November 17th, CACTUS member Tri-Cities Community Television hosted a second opportunity for the public to weigh in at the Vancouver Public Library, in the context of Media Democracy Day.

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Petition Circulating in Support of Community Media

In response to the ill-considered new local and community TV policy announced by the CRTC in June (which gives cable and satellite companies the power to redirect the majority of the national budget for community media to the private broadcasters they own), citizens in multiple ridings are collecting signatures in support of stronger community media and policies.

To read the petition, click:

here for English

here for French

To sign the petition, contact your member of Parliament or call CACTUS at (819) 456-2237

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Neepawa Community Access TV Faces Closure

Neepawa Community Access TV (NACTV), one of 8 not-for-profit community-owned TV stations in Canada, faces possible closure. NACTV's board voted to close on September 19th if the station can't address financial shortfalls.

NACTV broadcasts an average of 20 hours of original volunteer-generated content per week over the air and on Westman cable channel 12 in Neepawa, on MTS cable 30 across Manitoba, and on channel 592 on satellite on Bell ExpressVu nationally.

The not-for-profit community-owned TV license class was created by the CRTC in 2001 to help communities step into the service gap left by cable community channels. Cable penetration has dropped to about 60% in the face of competition from satellite and online services, and many cable studios have closed as cable systems have been interconnected.

Catherine Edwards, Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Community Television Users and Stations (CACTUS), says the CRTC is aware of the role channels like NACTV play in fulfilling the need for local media, but hasn't supported them: “The CRTC understood that a community-based solution that wasn't restricted to cable was needed when it created this license class, and it repeated at the 2008 Diversity of Voices hearing that financial support is needed for these stations. But there's been no follow-through. The CRTC keeps creating funds to stimulate local production, but only private stations are eligible. There's nothing to help true community stations, where the average person has a voice.”

Both the CRTC's 2010 review of community TV policy and its new policy released on June 15th this year continue to enable cable companies to direct almost the entire national budget for 'community TV' (more than $150 million) to community channels they own and control, available only on cable. No funding is available for community-owned stations.

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CACTUS Asks CRTC to Reconsider Community and Local TV Decision

CACTUS has asked the CRTC to reconsider its June 15th decision to reallocate funding from community TV to private broadcasters on the grounds that inadequate data about community TV channels operated by large vertically integrated media companies was available for consideration by stakeholders and the general public during the consultation, the number of false, selective, and erroneous statements in the decision, and the number of internal contradictions.

CACTUS has also asked the CRTC to create an Ombudsperson or permanent staff position to develop expertise regarding community media.

CACTUS decided to submit the request after widespread shock rippled through the community TV sector following the CRTC's June 15th announcement. In the decision, the Commission admits that “no private local television station was able to provide estimates of how much money it would need to continue operations” and that “no compelling evidence of imminent station closures was provided on the record”, yet still decided to reallocate most of the budget for community TV to private news stations in about a dozen markets. CACTUS' Executive Director Cathy Edwards said, “Canada is too big and sparsely populated for everyone to access a CBC or private news station. Community ownership of local media is the only cost-effective solution in small markets and to serve minorities in large markets.” Data posted by the CRTC confirmed that almost all cities that have a CBC or private station (which will benefit from the transfer) have populations over 100,000.

André Desrochers of CSUR La Télé, a community-owned station in Vaudreuil-Soulanges agreed. “The decision was supposed to increase the amount of local news and information available to Canadians, but the effect will be the reverse. Money contributed by subscribers in small communities for 'community TV' will be shifted to a handful of larger markets where there is a private news bureau.”

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