May 07, 2021
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No silver bullet for Canadian broadcasters: regulator

OTTAWA — The federal broadcast regulator cautioned politicians Wednesday there’s no silver-bullet cure for what ails Canadian broadcasters, but the agency is trying to ease the pressure in the short term.

MPs grilled Konrad von Finckenstein, chairman of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, on measures he could be taking to help broadcasters struggling to survive the recession.

With local TV stations closing or threatened with closure, MPs of all stripes are feeling pressure from constituents – and seeing outlets for their own publicity disappearing.

The hearings came the same day CBC announced it was slashing 800 jobs.

Von Finckenstein said the CRTC is prepared to temporarily lower the Canadian content and local programming requirements on private broadcasters in dire straits. The commission has also introduced a new $60-million fund to help local stations pay for more shows.

Regulators have also cleared the way for broadcasters to charge cable and satellite companies for time-shifting, the practice of transmitting one local TV signal to areas outside the normal viewing area.

But the chairman said these are all short-term fixes. Politicians and the industry need to help with a larger policy plan.

“Here we have an opportunity and an obligation to rethink our traditional assumptions and to move forward with a long-term vision for the Canadian television industry,” von Finckenstein told the House of Commons heritage committee.

“This is not something the commission will be able to do alone. It is a process that will require everyone to step up to the table with bold and creative ideas.”

Both Liberal and Conservative MPs continually pressed von Finckenstein on one of the major grievances of private broadcasters, their desire to charge cable and satellite companies for the privilege of transmitting their programs, referred to as “fee for carriage.”

Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe said Wednesday he also feels the time has come for such a fee to be introduced.

In the past, the idea has been politically unpalatable because the costs of those fees would be passed onto the consumer.

Things have changed now, with politicians fearing the demise of their local stations.

“As much as you say fee for carriage is not the solution, the status quo is not the solution either,” said Conservative MP Patrick Brown, whose riding risks losing a local A-Channel station.

“The status quo means no local programming in my community.”

Liberal Scott Simms asked the chairman: “If I bring up the issue of fee for carriage, is this a fait accompli for you? Is this over for you?” .

Von Finckenstein deflected the criticism on fee for carriage, telling MPs that the broadcasters had never been able to promise that the additional revenues would result in stable local programming.

Fee for carriage would represent an estimated $300 million in revenues annually for stations, of which there are 125 in Canada. Which ones would theoretically get the cash is a matter for debate.

“Fee for carriage is not the answer,” von Finckenstein said, while acknowledging it is still on the table for discussion.

“You have to have a comprehensive solution. Just right now levying a fee for carriage wouldn’t solve the local content and local programming problems.”

And von Finckenstein directed a jab at broadcasters and the government for continuing a long court battle over a contentious tax, called Part 2 fees. The industry has gone all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada to argue the government is illegally collecting fees that do not benefit broadcasters in any way.

“Is this not a time to cut a deal?” von Finckenstein asked.

Private broadcast companies such as CTVglobemedia, Quebecor and Canwest Global Communications are not just lobbying the regulator for changes that would help their bottom lines, but have gone straight to the top.

Executives have been meeting directly with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Heritage Minister James Moore. Canwest has hired the services of former senior Harper aide Ken Boessenkool to help push their interests.

Last week, Moore said the government was considering ways it could help broadcasters, but he said he could not immediately go into details.

The NDP’s Charlie Angus took a different tack from his colleagues, criticizing the CRTC for its willingness to relax local programming requirements during the recession.

Angus said broadcasters might be cutting local programming and stations just to pay for bad business decisions in other areas of their corporations.

“My argument to you is that the local patient is pretty much on life support, and the CRTC solution to bleed the patient is positively medieval.”

Source: The Canadian Press

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Headline, Industry News

No silver bullet for Canadian broadcasters: regulator

OTTAWA — The federal broadcast regulator cautioned politicians Wednesday there’s no silver-bullet cure for what ails Canadian broadcasters, but the agency is trying to ease the pressure in the short term.

MPs grilled Konrad von Finckenstein, chairman of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, on measures he could be taking to help broadcasters struggling to survive the recession.

With local TV stations closing or threatened with closure, MPs of all stripes are feeling pressure from constituents – and seeing outlets for their own publicity disappearing.

The hearings came the same day CBC announced it was slashing 800 jobs.

Von Finckenstein said the CRTC is prepared to temporarily lower the Canadian content and local programming requirements on private broadcasters in dire straits. The commission has also introduced a new $60-million fund to help local stations pay for more shows.

Regulators have also cleared the way for broadcasters to charge cable and satellite companies for time-shifting, the practice of transmitting one local TV signal to areas outside the normal viewing area.

But the chairman said these are all short-term fixes. Politicians and the industry need to help with a larger policy plan.

“Here we have an opportunity and an obligation to rethink our traditional assumptions and to move forward with a long-term vision for the Canadian television industry,” von Finckenstein told the House of Commons heritage committee.

“This is not something the commission will be able to do alone. It is a process that will require everyone to step up to the table with bold and creative ideas.”

Both Liberal and Conservative MPs continually pressed von Finckenstein on one of the major grievances of private broadcasters, their desire to charge cable and satellite companies for the privilege of transmitting their programs, referred to as “fee for carriage.”

Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe said Wednesday he also feels the time has come for such a fee to be introduced.

In the past, the idea has been politically unpalatable because the costs of those fees would be passed onto the consumer.

Things have changed now, with politicians fearing the demise of their local stations.

“As much as you say fee for carriage is not the solution, the status quo is not the solution either,” said Conservative MP Patrick Brown, whose riding risks losing a local A-Channel station.

“The status quo means no local programming in my community.”

Liberal Scott Simms asked the chairman: “If I bring up the issue of fee for carriage, is this a fait accompli for you? Is this over for you?” .

Von Finckenstein deflected the criticism on fee for carriage, telling MPs that the broadcasters had never been able to promise that the additional revenues would result in stable local programming.

Fee for carriage would represent an estimated $300 million in revenues annually for stations, of which there are 125 in Canada. Which ones would theoretically get the cash is a matter for debate.

“Fee for carriage is not the answer,” von Finckenstein said, while acknowledging it is still on the table for discussion.

“You have to have a comprehensive solution. Just right now levying a fee for carriage wouldn’t solve the local content and local programming problems.”

And von Finckenstein directed a jab at broadcasters and the government for continuing a long court battle over a contentious tax, called Part 2 fees. The industry has gone all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada to argue the government is illegally collecting fees that do not benefit broadcasters in any way.

“Is this not a time to cut a deal?” von Finckenstein asked.

Private broadcast companies such as CTVglobemedia, Quebecor and Canwest Global Communications are not just lobbying the regulator for changes that would help their bottom lines, but have gone straight to the top.

Executives have been meeting directly with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Heritage Minister James Moore. Canwest has hired the services of former senior Harper aide Ken Boessenkool to help push their interests.

Last week, Moore said the government was considering ways it could help broadcasters, but he said he could not immediately go into details.

The NDP’s Charlie Angus took a different tack from his colleagues, criticizing the CRTC for its willingness to relax local programming requirements during the recession.

Angus said broadcasters might be cutting local programming and stations just to pay for bad business decisions in other areas of their corporations.

“My argument to you is that the local patient is pretty much on life support, and the CRTC solution to bleed the patient is positively medieval.”

Source: The Canadian Press

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Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Headline, Industry News

No silver bullet for Canadian broadcasters: regulator

OTTAWA — The federal broadcast regulator cautioned politicians Wednesday there’s no silver-bullet cure for what ails Canadian broadcasters, but the agency is trying to ease the pressure in the short term.

MPs grilled Konrad von Finckenstein, chairman of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, on measures he could be taking to help broadcasters struggling to survive the recession.

With local TV stations closing or threatened with closure, MPs of all stripes are feeling pressure from constituents – and seeing outlets for their own publicity disappearing.

The hearings came the same day CBC announced it was slashing 800 jobs.

Von Finckenstein said the CRTC is prepared to temporarily lower the Canadian content and local programming requirements on private broadcasters in dire straits. The commission has also introduced a new $60-million fund to help local stations pay for more shows.

Regulators have also cleared the way for broadcasters to charge cable and satellite companies for time-shifting, the practice of transmitting one local TV signal to areas outside the normal viewing area.

But the chairman said these are all short-term fixes. Politicians and the industry need to help with a larger policy plan.

“Here we have an opportunity and an obligation to rethink our traditional assumptions and to move forward with a long-term vision for the Canadian television industry,” von Finckenstein told the House of Commons heritage committee.

“This is not something the commission will be able to do alone. It is a process that will require everyone to step up to the table with bold and creative ideas.”

Both Liberal and Conservative MPs continually pressed von Finckenstein on one of the major grievances of private broadcasters, their desire to charge cable and satellite companies for the privilege of transmitting their programs, referred to as “fee for carriage.”

Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe said Wednesday he also feels the time has come for such a fee to be introduced.

In the past, the idea has been politically unpalatable because the costs of those fees would be passed onto the consumer.

Things have changed now, with politicians fearing the demise of their local stations.

“As much as you say fee for carriage is not the solution, the status quo is not the solution either,” said Conservative MP Patrick Brown, whose riding risks losing a local A-Channel station.

“The status quo means no local programming in my community.”

Liberal Scott Simms asked the chairman: “If I bring up the issue of fee for carriage, is this a fait accompli for you? Is this over for you?” .

Von Finckenstein deflected the criticism on fee for carriage, telling MPs that the broadcasters had never been able to promise that the additional revenues would result in stable local programming.

Fee for carriage would represent an estimated $300 million in revenues annually for stations, of which there are 125 in Canada. Which ones would theoretically get the cash is a matter for debate.

“Fee for carriage is not the answer,” von Finckenstein said, while acknowledging it is still on the table for discussion.

“You have to have a comprehensive solution. Just right now levying a fee for carriage wouldn’t solve the local content and local programming problems.”

And von Finckenstein directed a jab at broadcasters and the government for continuing a long court battle over a contentious tax, called Part 2 fees. The industry has gone all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada to argue the government is illegally collecting fees that do not benefit broadcasters in any way.

“Is this not a time to cut a deal?” von Finckenstein asked.

Private broadcast companies such as CTVglobemedia, Quebecor and Canwest Global Communications are not just lobbying the regulator for changes that would help their bottom lines, but have gone straight to the top.

Executives have been meeting directly with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Heritage Minister James Moore. Canwest has hired the services of former senior Harper aide Ken Boessenkool to help push their interests.

Last week, Moore said the government was considering ways it could help broadcasters, but he said he could not immediately go into details.

The NDP’s Charlie Angus took a different tack from his colleagues, criticizing the CRTC for its willingness to relax local programming requirements during the recession.

Angus said broadcasters might be cutting local programming and stations just to pay for bad business decisions in other areas of their corporations.

“My argument to you is that the local patient is pretty much on life support, and the CRTC solution to bleed the patient is positively medieval.”

Source: The Canadian Press

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Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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