Report Says Rough Road Ahead for Canadian Television

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The future of public broadcasting in Canada
The future of public broadcasting in Canada

THUNDER BAY – BUSINESS – Plans put in place by the former Conservative Government could see up to 15,000 jobs lost in media, and an estimated $1.4 billion in economic activity taken from the Canadian economy by 2020. Those are the findings of a report commissioned by ACTRA, the Canadian Media Guild, Directors Guild of Canada, Friends of Canadian Broadcasting and Unifor. The report examines the CRTC Let’s Talk TV announcements that are planned over the coming years.

The report, Canadian Television 2020: Technological and Regulatory Impacts outlines the results of the plan that would see Canadian Radio Television Communications decisions hit hard on Canadian television and Canadian broadcasters.

The study’s authors have advanced proposals to reduce the negative economic impact of the CRTC’s decisions by as much as 75%: “This would not, in our view, require ‘turning back the clock’ on all the Let’s Talk TV decisions. It would merely require relatively minor ‘tweaking’ that recognizes Canadians as broadcasting policy has always recognized them – not merely as consumers, but as creators and citizens too.”

The group states that this is a first-of-its-kind independent economic forecast shows regulatory changes espoused by the Harper government and adopted in last year’s CRTC Let’s Talk TV announcements will likely lead to the loss of more than 15,000 Canadian jobs and take $1.4 billion from the Canadian economy annually by 2020.

Co-authored by the economic and media consulting firm Nordicity and Peter H. Miller, the 100-page study also forecasts the CRTC decisions will likely result in a $400 million annual drop in spending on Canadian programs by 2020 and accelerate the impact of technological change while weakening Canadian broadcasters.

“For good reason the new government has abandoned Stephen Harper’s policy of denigrating the CBC. It should take the same approach to the CRTC’s Let’s Talk TV decisions.  Under pressure from the former government, the Commission placed so-called consumer protection ahead of the cultural and democratic interests of citizens and creators in its decisions. This study offers an indictment of the CRTC’s current leadership, based on solid economic analysis,” says Ian Morrison, spokesperson for the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting.

The study found the CRTC’s decisions regarding unbundling, over-the-top (OTT) TV and the predominance of Canadian programs are the primary drivers of this erosion.  Not yet implemented, these changes are scheduled to take effect starting in March.

“Four-hundred million dollars a year would be a huge hit to Canadian TV production,” says Tim Southam, Directors Guild of Canada National President. “Consumers do not benefit from being asked to pay more for fewer Canadian choices.  The DGC urges the Government to review these dangerous policies.”

Randy Kitt, Unifor’s Media Council Chair noted that “The war on evidence may be over elsewhere in government, but it seems to be alive and well at the CRTC. The Commission failed to release any economic impact data accompanying its Let’s Talk TV announcements. This study fills a void, and should send a powerful message to the new government”.

“The new government needs to move quickly to ensure funding and access to original Canadian programming, including news and information in French and English everywhere in the country,” says Carmel Smyth, President of the Canadian Media Guild.

The full report is available at www.friends.ca

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