Phase III of the CRTC's "Let's Talk TV" consultation (CRTC 2014-190) generated almost 3000 comments by individual Canadians as well as industry groups and stakeholders. The CRTC's questions in phase III raised the possibility that the current 2% revenue allocation by cable companies to community channels might be adjusted, as well as that free over-the-air distribution by local television stations (community, public, or private) might not be required in future.
The oral part of the CRTC hearing will be held in September. CACTUS is slated to appear on Wednesday, September 17th.
Click here to read CACTUS' written submission to phase III of "Let's Talk TV":
The full list of public submissions can be found here:
CACTUS will be offering a workshop entitled "Reclaiming Our Community TV Channels" at the Peoples’ Social Forum (PSF) in Ottawa on Friday August 22nd. CACTUS has also been invited to participate in a panel hosted by rabble.ca about how independent media can be used to support social movements, and by Communicatons Workers of America (Canada) about funding models for alternative media.
In case you haven't heard of the PSF, its web site describes it as "a critical public space aimed at fostering activist involvement of individuals and civil society organizations that want to transform Canada as it exists today. It is a space for social movements to meet and converge, for the free expression of alternative ideas and grassroots exchanges. Social justice, Original Peoples rights, sustainable development, international solidarity and participatory democracy are at the centre of its concerns." Ten thousand people are expected to participate and the keynote address will be given by Naomi Klein.
CACTUS hopes to both network with other community and alternative media, but also with environmental, First Nations, and social justice organizations about how community media can help them get their messages out.
For more information about the PSF, see:
Attendees are being billetted with Ottawa residents.
Entry for the whole forum is only $20.
CACTUS' workshop will be offered from 1 - 2:30 p.m. on Friday.
The rabble.ca panel, which will be moderated by Judy Rebick and in which CACTUS is taking part, will be offered immediately following at 2:45 p.m. (more information here):
The CWA panel regarding community media funding will be immediately following the rabble.ca panel at 4:30.
Prior to 2006, there was only ever one 'community channel' in a given neighbourhood. In 2006, Rogers petitioned the CRTC to divide its Ottawa community channels along linguistic lines. Other cable and satellite TV providers have been following Rogers' lead lately, a worry trend that takes Canadian 'community TV' ever further from its roots and more and more a copy of what's already available on commercial local TV.
The CRTC expects cable and satellite television service providers to spend 5% of their revenues on Canadian production. If they elect to offer a 'community channel' in a given licence area, they are allowed to retain between 1.5 and 2% of the 5% for the operation of the channel. The remainder flows to the Canada Media and other production funds that support professional production nationally.
Almost all cable and satellite companies have elected to operate a community channel given this choice, because it gives them some control over how a portion of their contribution to Canadian production is spent, and enables them to leverage local branding and advertising.
A US appeals court has thrown out the concept of net neutrality, which had heretofore ensured that different kinds of Internet traffic are given equal access to bandwidth, and had prevented Internet providers from charging different rates to different kinds of traffic.
The US ruling sets a dangerous precedent that could threaten the long-term health of community media, as more and more people acquire information and entertainment on-line.
Click here for the full Wall Street Journal article.
People often ask, "Why do you need community TV channels anymore with the Interent? You've got YouTube."
There are lots of answers to this question:
- You have to give up your copyright on many services such as YouTube, and they are being more and more commercialized. The community doesn't own or control them.
- YouTube doesn't aggregate local audiences, and isn't live.
- YouTube doesn't provide training and media literacy skills and equipment access for people who are not already media-savvy.
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 the digital and multi-platform environment.
The consultation will have several stages. Before Christmas, it was very free form. Canadians were encouraged to post informal comments on the CRTC's web site, in response to questions in three categories, including programming content as well as technological access to services.
Groups and organizations were also encouraged to host "Flash Conferences" examining the same questions. These conferences could be informal get-togethers in people's houses, coffee shops, a townhall, a teleconference or web consultation. CACTUS held a "Flash Conference" in January. Our report can be found on the CRTC web site, along with the reports of other groups and organizations. (Click the link below, and then click "Flash Conference Reports" in the middle column where it says "Get Up to Speed on the Conversation.)
Here's what the CRTC's report on stage I had to say about community and local programming: