OTTAWA, Nov. 27 /CNW Telbec/ – CBC/Radio-Canada today appeared before the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) in the first of a series of hearings for its conventional television policy review, a crucial part of establishing a new broadcast policy.
CBC/Radio-Canada’s President and CEO Robert Rabinovitch, along with Executive Vice-President of CBC Television, Richard Stursberg; Sylvain Lafrance, Executive Vice-President of French Services; Ray Carnovale, Vice-President and Chief Technology Officer; and Vice-President of Strategy and Business Development Michel Tremblay, were part of a panel presenting CBC/Radio-Canada’s position on the future of television.
"Traditionally, conventional broadcasters – CBC/Radio-Canada included – have been the workhorses of Canadian broadcasting, and the key lever by which the Commission has been able to promote the objectives of the Broadcasting Act," Rabinovitch said. "As the environment within which we operate shifts and the business models upon which we depend become unreliable, this review is a fundamental step in helping the Government set its broadcast policy for the 21st century."
CBC/Radio-Canada’s position is based on the premise that Canadians will be better-served if their broadcast system is equipped to respond to the opportunities and challenges posed by new communications technologies and shifting consumer habits, and is shaped around two central recommendations to the Commission.
The first is a rational approach to the conversion of the transmission system from analogue to digital. CBC/Radio-Canada is advocating a hybrid proposal that would ensure, within the limits of what is economically reasonable, that the maximum number of Canadians continue to receive an over-the-air signal. Given current usage patterns, under our proposal 98 percent of Canadians would receive the CBC/Radio-Canada digital signal.
CBC/Radio-Canada is also recommending the Commission and Industry Canada establish a target conversion date for the transition from analogue to High Definition television service, as has been done elsewhere. An established target conversion date would not be carried out, however, if it were deemed that Canadians would be affected unduly.
The second is a proposal that the CRTC establish conventional broadcasters’ eligibility for subscription revenues. In television, the advertising-based business model on which conventional broadcasting has relied is at risk due to the number of channels vying for the same revenue; commercial skipping; and the migration of marketing spending to the Internet and other platforms.
"In order to continue to be able to achieve its policy objectives, the Commission’s next TV Policy will need to create a framework that supports the ongoing health of conventional television by recognizing the current challenges facing this sector," Mr. Rabinovitch said. "A broadening of conventional broadcasters’ business model is necessary, if they are to continue to serve as the cornerstone of the Canadian broadcasting system."
Every week throughout the year, 90 per cent of Canadian viewers tune in to a Canadian conventional television station. Conventional television broadcasters are the face of local television, the home of original Canadian programming and the primary source of local news, public affairs, Canadian drama and entertainment programming.
CBC/Radio-Canada’s submission is available at www.CBC.Radio-Canada.ca/submissions. Fact sheets on over-the-air transmission and subscription revenues are also available at the same address.