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CRTC Proposal Threatens Community Television in Canada

Community access television in Canada is once again at risk of being destroyed as an access medium for the Canadian public. The CRTC wants to remove the community channel from the basic cable package, a move that would, in effect, gut community television as an access medium. Canadians are being urged to write to the CRTC and demand that community television remain in the basic cable package. The deadline for submissions is October 9, 2007.

If you want to respond immediately, here's what to do. Click here, to see the CRTC's call for comments in CRTC 2007-10. Paragraph 73 proposes that community television be removed from the basic cable package. Find paragraph 105 and follow the links to file an electronic response. You can also write your response in a separate file and attach it to your electronic submission.

If you would like to know more about this issue, where to find supporting documents such as existing regulations for community television, or the names of organizations working to save community tv in Canada, keep reading...

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Pirate TV Station in Toronto Challenges CRTC

In a recent press relase, Jan Pachul, creator of Star Ray TV has thrown a gauntlet down at the feet of the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission. Accusing the CRTC of corruption after 10 years of trying to get a license for a low-power community station, Star Ray TV is on the air and broadcasting in Toronto, Canada without a license.

According to Pachul, the CRTC will not grant a hearing to ask the public if they support Star Ray's application for a low-power community license in the Toronto area -- a refusal that Pachul says goes against a 1971 Supreme Court of Canada decision affirming an applicant's statutory right to a hearing when an application is filed with the CRTC. Says Pachul: "Past CRTC actions in regards to Star Ray could best be described as shameless bald-faced fraud. These actions include returning our application as "incomplete" over a year after we answered all deficiency" questions, manufacturing a complaint using a fictitious person, taking almost one year to answer correspondence, inventing a regulation to stop the processing of our application, violating our privacy rights, in sum denying Star Ray TV any due process to become a legitimate station."

Pachul's complaints against the CRTC are not limited to his own community license stand-off. Pachul also recently accused the CRTC Diversity" Hearings scheduled for next week as being "a charade that they have put on to mask the truth that the big private broadcasters effectively control them."

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Fearless TV: Television from Canada’s Poorest Neighbourhood

Fearless TV was born in the poverty and resilience of Vancouver’s Downtown East Side (DTES), Canada’s poorest and most vulnerable neighbourhood. Occupying a 25 block radius a little east of Vancouver’s business district, the DTES is home to over 5,000 intravenous drug users, and staggering levels of poverty, HIV infection rates, and social malaise. But it is also home to a vibrant creative community of residents, activists and artists. Fearless TV is television made in the DTES by people who live and work there.

The show was created on the heels of television activism workshops offered this Spring and last Fall by local organizer Sid Tan, founder of Access TV and long time community television activist. Tan explained that the workshops were designed to introduce people to community television and how to use it as a tool for social and political change. The response was so positive, they decided to make a show.

Fearless TV brings together creative resources from a number of community groups -- the DTES Community Arts Network (DTES-CAN), des media, Access TV and Gallery Gachet. Together, they are working to share the stories and points of view of the people who live in the DTES with the wider community.

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How Much Money Did They Make? The CRTC Releases Its Annual Report On Television In Canada

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has tallied up the winnings, I mean, earnings of the television industry for 2006...

Canadian conventional television stations generated $2.2 billion in revenue in 2006. National advertising remained steady at $1.5 billion. Local advertising increased 3.4% to $375.4 million. Profitability, however, declined from $242 million industry-wide to $91 million according to the report.

Other interesting tidbits include:

Spending on foreign programming increased 12.2% from $613.2 million in 2005 to $688.3 million in 2006.

Spending on Canadian programming increased 6.3% from $587 million in 2005 to $623.7 million in 2006 (including $144.7 million for independently produced material, up from $138.5 million in 2005).

Genre expenditure breakdowns include: $328.1 million for news programs; $101.6 million on general interest programming; $73.9 million on drama; $66.3 million for other information programs; $35 million for musical and variety shows; $9.3 million for sports; and $5.7 million for game shows.

The industry employed 8,197 people in 2006.

To read the report go here. For more information, go the CRTC’s website.

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Tectonic Plates Shifting Under Cable Services (Community Access Still Protected, At Least For Now)

The CRTC is reassessing what basic cable means in preparation for the digitalization of the television industry in 2010. What is at stake are millions of dollars in revenues for broadcasters and how we organize and define what channels are "selected" for the least expensive cable service, the basic package.

Details of the hearing are expalined in Broadcast Notice 2007-1, items 7-18. In a nutshell, what is being determined in part is who gets to be included in the cable "basic package" (the question of why we have a "basic package" is not on the table). It is a money question. For every cable subscriber who receives a channel, the channel gets a fee. For example, the Weather Network gets 23 cents each month per subscriber. With 12 million subscribers, it collects about $2.76-million monthly. If your channel is in the basic package, everyone in Canada who has cable is a subscriber. Community channels are currently included in the basic package, but do not receive subscriber fees.

How channels are selected for inclusion in the basic cable package is a bit of black box magic and a bit of legislation. Some criteria are set out in the Broadcasting Act. For example, the Act states that subscribers should have access to a basic service that: (1) fosters the growth of Canada’s cultural, social, economic and political aims; (2) is varied and comprehensive, providing a balance of information and entertainment programming, at an affordable cost; (3) is drawn from local, regional, national and international sources; (4) includes educational and community programs; and (5) reflects and contributes to Canada’s linguistic duality and ethno-cultural diversity, including the special place of Aboriginal peoples in Canadian society.

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