The CRTC is hosting a public consultation called "Let's Talk TV", to consult the general public about how it thinks the broadcasting system should evolve in a the digital and multi-platform environment.
The consultation will have several stages. Right now (and until Friday Nov. 22nd), it's very free form, and you can post informal comments on the CRTC's web site. Using this round of input, the CRTC plans to shape more pointed questions for an industry-wide consultation to be held in September of 2014.
Another form of feedback that the CRTC is accepting is reports from groups that have held "Flash Conferences" on the topic. This just means a more or less formal meeting that could occur anywhere... in a home, at a public venue, where the topic is the set of questions posed by the CRTC.
CACTUS is considering holding a "Flash Conference" by teleconference in the New Year. We would submit a report capturing what is said.
In the mean time, you may like to check out the CRTC's questions. Question 3 in the second section on "Programming" has to do with community TV and local programming. It asks "How important is community access programming and “community TV” to you? Why?"
Stay tuned for more about our own "Flash conference" on the future of TV.
On September 5th, Videotron proposed to the CRTC that it be allowed to spend between $6 and $10 million to fund a second community TV channel for Montreal, to be programmed exclusively in English. The money would be taken from the Canada Media Fund, which is used by independent professional producers to fund high-quality drama and documentaries... programs like Murdoch Myseteries, Rookie Blue, and the Listener.
The channel would be called MYtv, a clone to Videotron's existing MAtv service. The company is currently in violation of its licence requirements to "reflect the official languages, ethnic and Aboriginal composition of the community" with the exclusively French MAtv service.
The professional production community is naturally concerned, given that the new channel would drain scarce resources that would otherwise have supported the production of programming that could be seen nation-wide.
A citizen group has proposed a third solution, that would meet the needs of both Montreal's minority communities AND the professional production community. The group, calling itself the Steering Committee for an Independent Community Channel (ICTV) for Montreal, wants to challenge Videotron for its basic licence to administer the community channel. Current CRTC policy states that if a cable company is not meeting its licence requirements, a community-based undertaking can have it, along with the 2% of that cable company's revenues from the licence area to support it.
For more information, click here to see our full press release.
To see the letter written by the Steering Committee for ICTV Montreal to the CRTC (requesting a 60-day delay for the Steering Committee to develop a full application), click here.
CACTUS filed its end-of-year report for the first year in a two-year grant by the Ontario Trillium Foundation to promote digital broadcasting opportunities to communities across Ontario.
CACTUS had committed to engage at least 6 communities in the process of setting up a digital media centre by the end of year 1 of its grant, and 15 communities by the end of year 2.
Work during the first year focussed on a) salvaging broadcasting transmission equipment being decommissioned by both TVO and the CBC for use by communities and b) reaching out to municipalities, bands, and communities across Ontario about the potential of digital technologies for broadcasting to improve local communications.
Eighty-seven communities secured former TVO broadcast towers, and one community in Ontario has acquired a former CBC TV transmitter to date. Community groups in the following areas so far are exploring the potential for a digital community media centre to improve increase access to media skills training and local content (some using former TVO and CBC equipment):
- Manitoulin Island
- Sandy Lake First Nations
- North Bay
- Parry Sound
We look forward to working with these groups throughout the coming year, and in welcoming others to the process as our outreach to communities across the province continues.
For more information on the Ontario Trillium Foundation and its granting programs, click here.
(reprinted from PRLOG of Jan. 6, 2013)
Do America's struggling families deserve free TV for life?
A group of small-market broadcasters think so.
Octave Network Television has entered the media marketplace as a no-fee hdtv service provider, offering dozens of public, government and community access channels free of charge to every U.S, citizen.
8ctave's network combines the strength of hundreds of small-market, noncommercial, student-run, government, public-sourced and community access broadcast stations from across the country. Many of these 'tiny towers' are grossly underfunded, underpowered or unavailable without digital 'rabbit ear' antennas.
Public broadcasters are a vital part of national media, connecting communities, serving the public trust and acting as key components to national security through use of the FCC's Emergency Alert System, which informs and instructs the public during a crisis.
Now enters Octave, a startup bent on 'Powering Public Access' with streaming TV technology, broadcasting to millions of Americans via Roku and other internet TV receivers.
Roku is the largest streaming TV box in America, credited with creating the popular Netflix video on-demand service. Devices like Roku contain the nuts and bolts that enable Octave's free HD offerings, with units costing less than $50.
In addition to on-demand content delivery, Octave channels broadcast in TV's traditional linear format. Octave looks like 'regular' TV because it is, combining the strength and character of America's Public Access broadcasters into a nationwide network with more potential carriers than ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX combined.
According to Octave founder Edward Balboa, you need "a lot of Davids" to take on a Goliath, a role relished by the unknown recently dubbed 'The Rocky Balboa of Broadcasting.' He says folks often mistake Octave for a music channel, but that an Octave's true description isn't so do-ray-mi.
Hagensborg, BC is the second community that CACTUS is aware of that has salvaged CBC equipment in order to maintain CBC TV free to air. “The story of television in the Bella Coola Valley is one of community perserverence and ingenuity” says John Morton of the Hagensborg TV Society. “We rebroadcast 6 television signals and 3 radio channels using a community-owned transmission tower” he says. “The CRTC at first refused to licence our system back in the 1970s, because the CBC had reported that it was technically impossible to have TV reception in the Bella Coola Valley. This was a surprise to those of us who had witnessed--among other events--the moon landing in 1969!”
Hagensborg is one of over 600 communities that was slated to lose free over-the-air CBC and Radio Canada service on July 31st of last year, the date the CBC turned off its analog over-the-air transmission network, and began retiring equipment. The Hagensborg TV Society offered the CBC a nominal amount for the analog transmitter, receivers, modulators and amplifiers, which would likely have been scrapped. “The community is really delighted to have been able to re-establish over-the-air service. Many in our community can't afford satellite TV. Although there are some costs to maintain the tower and pay downlink fees for the channels we want, it works out to only about 60$ per household per year, which is really affordable."