CACTUS Highlights Community Alternative to Scarcity of Local Content

Ottawa (4 December 2009) In its presentation to the CRTC hearing on December 7, the Canadian Association of Community Television Users and Stations (CACTUS) will present new alternatives for providing community content and maintaining over-the-air service from Canada’s major TV broadcasters, without imposing new costs on consumers.

“The Broadcasting Act says that Canadians’ local television needs are fundamentally important objectives of Canada’s broadcasting policy,” says Cathy Edwards, spokesperson for CACTUS. Independent community TV channels, such as NACTV in Neepawa, Manitoba, produced 2,200 hours of original intensely local TV programming for a budget of about $80,000 this year. That’s $36 per original hour, using two employees and forty volunteers in a community of just over 3,000. Meanwhile, according to information filed with the CRTC, Shaw cablecast 5832 hours of locally produced programming per week (including repeats) throughout its 54 systems for $64,000,000, or upwards of $211 per hour, depending on the number of repeats. “It’s shocking that Shaw and other big BDUs are promoting the community access TV they are required to provide as a competitor for private broadcasting, when they are actually doing fewer original hours than community-run services such as NACTV.”

CACTUS believes that the coming analog-digital transition offers community TV the chance to develop a new business model, and to help remote private and public signals such as CTV and the CBC remain available over the air to all communities, regardless of size. Once communities like Neepawa have transmitter sites, they will also have the capacity to retransmit remote private and public signals such as CTV and the CBC. Independent community TV organizations are already offering this service in Valemont and Ash Creek, BC.

CACTUS is encouraging Canadians to express their views and support the community sector, by commenting on the CRTC’s consultation notice on community TV (Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2009-661). Canadians can write to the CRTC (CRTC, Ottawa, ON K1A 0N2) or file online at The CRTC’s dead-line for comments on this policy is February 1, 2010.

Contact: Catherine Edwards, (819) 772-2862