CRTC Community TV Hearing Participants Overwhelmingly Endorse CACTUS Proposal

Ottawa (May 3/2010) The first week of the CRTC community TV policy review saw presenter after presenter endorse an independent, community-owned and –operated model for community television, in line with the policy of most other countries.

Supporters for the CACTUS proposal to make more funding available for independent, community-run channels included almost all industry stakeholders except cable companies themselves, which currently have a stranglehold on community channel spending—more than $100,000,000 per year.

They include ACTRA, the Directors' Guild, CTV, Canwest, the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union; the Canadian Film and Television Producers Association, the Canadian Conference for the Arts, the Independent Media Arts Alliance, the City of Burnaby, Metro Vancouver, the Canadian Media Guild, the Documentary Organization of Canada, OpenMedia, Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, Stornoway Communications (which operates the ichannel, bpm:tv and The Pet Network), the Canadian Library Association, Telecommunities Canada, the Canadian Association of Media Education Organizations and the Assembly of First Nations.

"There’s a widespread understanding that the cable-administered model doesn’t work any more," said CACTUS spokesperson, Cathy Edwards "Even groups that didn’t endorse the CACTUS proposal by name nonetheless recognized the problems with the current system, including the CBC, the English Languages Arts Network, and the Aboriginal People’s Television Network (APTN)."

An independent model would address the issues they raise. For example, APTN noted that there doesn’t appear to be any Aboriginal programming or access to training at cable-operated community channels. The English Language Arts Network says that there are virtually no English-language programs made on community TV in Quebec. The Ajjiit Nunavut Media Association asks that funding be made available for community TV there. Community-run channels with open-access mandates and run by boards of directors elected by the community could provide the broad representation and accountability missing from the cable model.

The CACTUS model recommends the redirection of cable-subscriber funds for "local expression" to an arms-length "Community-Access Media Fund", to which groups like Ajjiit could apply to operate their own community channels.

"The horse has left the barn on the cable model," said Edwards. "The cable industry has closed more than 2/3rds of community channels across Canada. No amount of monitoring or stiffer guidelines is going to turn the lights back on at those studios. Communities need to step up to the plate, and they’ve shown this week that they’re ready and willing to do it."

Contact: Catherine Edwards, (819) 772-2862