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New CRTC Community and Local TV Policy Deals Crippling Blow to Community Television

CACTUS estimates that the effect of the CRTC's new local and community TV policy will be to slash the budget for community TV to one sixth what it was under its 2010 policy, crippling Canada's forty-year tradition of prioritizing media literacy and public access to the airwaves.

The CRTC's June 15th decision redirects money for community TV to private news production in a handful of mid-sized Canadian cities where local news is no longer profitable for Canada's media giants, such as Rogers, Bell, Shaw, and Videotron.

These horizontally and vertically integrated companies were allowed to buy our last private TV networks—CTV and Global—because they had the deep pockets to subsidize news and drama from highly profitable mobile, Internet, and pay TV services. Many are asking "Why raid community TV?"

The CRTC decision is a giant step backward according to CACTUS Executive Director, Cathy Edwards. “The private sector is supposed to stand on its own, creating mass-market programming. Public funding should be directed to the more difficult mandate of serving niche groups, training the public in media production, and tackling the tough topics that are shaping our communities and our nation. These are the roles of the public and community sectors.”

Representatives of more than 70 anglophone, francophone, and First Nations communities that want TV licenses participated in the February hearings, and demonstrated how they leverage volunteers and partnerships with community organizations to produce content for $500/hour. By contrast, private-sector news costs more than $6000/hour.


CRTC's Review of Local and Community TV Concludes

The CRTC's review of local and community TV concluded on February 3rd. The CRTC heard from over 50 interveners, of whom over 20 were representatives of community media.

On January 26th, CACTUS was asked to file a proposal for a trial of community multimedia centres. Click here to see the proposal:

Proposed Trial for Community Media Centres

To read CACTUS final observations, click here:

CACTUS Final Observations

We anticipate that it may be two to three months before we hear any news. Thanks to everyone for their tremendous effort and support during the hearing process!


Vital for Public to Weigh in on Community TV

The CRTC has opened a forum for Canadians to share their views as it begins a review of its policy framework for both local and community TV on Monday, January 25th in Gatineau. Click here:

CRTC online forum about community TV

The review will last for 10 days and can be viewed live on CPAC's web site at www.cpac.ca

Since CACTUS was tied up organizing the Community Media Convergence in the fall of 2015 when the CRTC posted its original notice of consultation for its review of community and local TV and was unable to publicize the review widely, it's important that the public weigh in. The CRTC has reopened this portal at until February 3rd, the last day of the hearings.

The CRTC has also begun its review of complaints of non-compliance with the CRTC's community TV policy against Canada's five largest telecommunications companies. The complaints have been submitted by community groups and the Canadian Association of Community Television Users and Stations (CACTUS).

Almost 70 such complaints have now been filed against Shaw, Rogers, Cogeco, Eastlink, and Videotron community channels, accounting for more than 80% of licensed cable systems. Cable operators are expected to air 60% local content and 50% content produced by community members during any given week, but the majority of them fail to meet these minima. The public will have 30 days to 'weigh in' regarding the complaints, which are being posted here:

Complaints against BDU community channels.


CACTUS Proposes to Revitalize Community TV in Canada as Part of Multimedia Digital Vision

CACTUS made a comprehensive submission to the CRTC's review of local and community TV on Tuesday, January 5th.

After consulting its members, researchers, and a broad cross-section of community media practitioners at the Community Media Convergence (held Nov. 22-24th, 2015 at Carleton University), CACTUS filed an updated version of the proposal it made first in 2010: to use funding collected from Canadian subscribers from cable, IPTV, and satellite subscribers for "local expression" to fund multimedia training, production, and distribution centres that would bring back meaningful access to broadcasting and content creation to more than 90% of Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

CACTUS' spokesperson Catherine Edwards: "We're satisfied that our proposal has had a chance to circulate among community media practitioners and public-interest stakeholders. We've consulted public libraries, community radio stations, former CAP sites, community online media, First Nations groups, and the gaming community over the last 5 years, culminating at the Community Media Convergence in November. There was overwhelming support: stable operational funding needs to be found to support community media in the digital environment. Community TV (audio-visual content however distributed) in particular has been neglected for more than a decade, and the upcoming CRTC hearings are a chance to rectify this situation. Furthermore, the proposal takes into account the growing role of new media, and how best to make sure Canadians have the access to skills training, equipment and production support that they need to participate in the digital economy and in the wider culture we share on digital platforms."

To read CACTUS' intervention, click the files below. To see what the vision could mean for towns and communities across Canada, see our "Featured Video" at upper right.


Community Media Convergence Ramps Up to Welcome Visitors to Ottawa

CACTUS is helping to organize and host the Community Media Convergenge at Carleton Univeristy which kicks off next weekend. The following article is cross-posted from the web site of the conference at www.ComMediaConverge.ca:

(Ottawa) Nov. 11, 2015 With less than two weeks to go, things are heating up in the community media world, with the first ever gathering of community media practitioners from all sectors (community TV, community radio, community online media such as The Media Co-op and gamers) at Carleton University Nov. 22-24th.

The conference features two days of panels about everything from “Social Media: Is it Community Media and How Do We Leverage It?” to “Community Media 3.0: Games and Interactivity?” The third day is a policy development forum, where attendees will have the opportunity to help shape a policy proposal to support community media in the digital environment.

Speakers include grandfathers of our broadcasting system such as:

Clifford Lincoln, author of Our Cultural Sovereignty: The Second Century of Broadcasting
Florian Sauvageau, author of the 1986 Report on the Task Force on Broadcasting
... to the new generation of bloggers and podcasters, including Mark Blevis, Victoria Fenner of rabble.
... and gaming organizations such as Dames Making Games and the Hand Eye Society.
Conference goers will be able to check out the latest from technology companies in the Tech Fair and watch the best community media the country has to offer in the evening Media Festival.

The conference is timely, and organizers hope it will help inform the CRTC's on-going review of its community TV policy, which is 40 years old and lags behind the reality of the digital distribution and creation of content.