CACTUS Offers Workshop at People's Social Forum Aug. 22

CACTUS will be offering a workshop entitled "Reclaiming Our Community TV Channels" at the Peoples’ Social Forum (PSF) in Ottawa on Friday August 22nd. CACTUS has also been invited to participate in a panel hosted by about how independent media can be used to support social movements, and by Communicatons Workers of America (Canada) about funding models for alternative media.

In case you haven't heard of the PSF, its web site describes it as "a critical public space aimed at fostering activist involvement of individuals and civil society organizations that want to transform Canada as it exists today. It is a space for social movements to meet and converge, for the free expression of alternative ideas and grassroots exchanges. Social justice, Original Peoples rights, sustainable development, international solidarity and participatory democracy are at the centre of its concerns." Ten thousand people are expected to participate and the keynote address will be given by Naomi Klein.

CACTUS hopes to both network with other community and alternative media, but also with environmental, First Nations, and social justice organizations about how community media can help them get their messages out.

For more information about the PSF, see:

People's Social Forum 2014.

Attendees are being billetted with Ottawa residents.

Entry for the whole forum is only $20.

CACTUS' workshop will be offered from 1 - 2:30 p.m. on Friday.

The panel, which will be moderated by Judy Rebick and in which CACTUS is taking part, will be offered immediately following at 2:45 p.m. (more information here): "Media and the Movements"

The CWA panel regarding community media funding will be immediately following the panel at 4:30.

For the Alternative Media Assembly being held on Saturday, August 23rd, CACTUS has made a proposal that we hope other groups will endorse and help us develop: to develop an updated policy for community media in Canada, that reflects the realities of digital production and distribution.


CACTUS Submission to Broadcasting Review Panel

CACTUS' Submission to the Broadcasting Review Panel, tasked by government to prepare a report with recommendations for the revision of the Broadcasting Act.

“Community Element” All But Invisible in “Canada's communications future: Time to act”

CACTUS was disappointed to find almost no mention of the community element in the Canadian broadcasting system in the recently released report “Canada's communications future: Time to act” (aka the Yale Report). While Recommendation 52 maintains the existing definition of the Canadian broadcasting system as consisting of “public, private, and community elements”, there is no mention of the sector throughout the remaining 235 pages of the report, despite a full section devoted to the role and funding of public-sector media (the CBC), and considerable granularity regarding new funding and regulatory models to facilitate production for private media.

Everyone acknowledges the crisis in local news and information, yet the huge potential of the community sector to fill this gap—due to its lower cost structure and involvement by local stakeholders—is neither understood nor acknowledged.

This oversight is part of a long-standing trend. Neither the 2017 Creative Canada Policy Framework and Shattered Mirror reports made more than passing mentions of the community element.

Aside from the issue of local news and information, the report highlights the need to better serve indigenous Canadians, yet no mention is made of community media as the most cost-effective choice to reach most First Nations, many of whom may have only a few 100 or 1000 members. Community media trains community members in media production and gives them a voice and a platform, in the language of their choice. Via community media, indigenous communities can access the infrastructure and skills to participate in the digital economy.

The 1986 Report on the Task Force on Broadcasting which informed the 1991 Broadcasting Act recommended that community TV be separately licensed, to fulfill its potential as a platform for voices outside the mainstream, but the recommendation was never implemented, leaving the sector under the stewardship of the cable industry. That need is even stronger 34 years further on, in an environment of intense media-ownership concentration. The cable industry has shuttered the vast majority of the over 300 community stations that once existed. Canada is the ONLY nation in the world that put stewardship of the so-called “community element” in private hands.

The only reference in the Yale Report to the stranglehold that the CRTC has allowed cable companies to maintain on community TV is that half of the money (about $70 million) that was supposed to support communities to make their own audio-visual productions has already been siphoned off to support the Independent Local News Fund (the ILNF). Far from flagging this problem and the need for full funding for community media, the Yale report recommends at Recommendation 71 that more of this “levy” should be diverted to support local private news. The report doesn't acknowledge where the “levy” is coming from. The community element is just a black hole to be raided to support failing legacy news infrastructure. There is no vision to build more cost-effective, accountable and dynamic local institutions.

To read CACTUS' submission to the review process that preceded the Yale report, see

CACTUS Submission to the Broadcasting Review 2019

To hear an interview with Catherine Edwards, CACTUS' Executive Director, about the Yale report, as well as with Barry Rooke, the Executive Director of the National Community Radio Association, see:

Rabble Podcast with CACTUS and NCRA Executive Directors


Apply for TV Journalist Positions under Local Journalism Initiative

(français en bas)

Applications are invited for the position of: Civic and Community Video Journalist in the following locations and languages:

Valemount, BC – English
Hay River, NWT – English; Dene an asset
Neepawa, Manitoba – English; Filipino an asset

Term: These are time-limited positions starting December 2, 2019 and ending on March 26, 2021, with the possibility of renewal.


The Canadian Association of Community Television Stations and Users (CACTUS) is looking for Civic and Community Video Journalists in the above listed communities.

These positions are funded by The Local Journalism Initiative and have been made possible by the Government of Canada.

The journalists will be hired by community TV organizations to produce civic journalism, about the activities of the country’s civic institutions (for example, courthouses, city halls, band councils, school boards, federal Parliament or provincial legislatures) or subjects of public importance to society.

Ideal candidates will have a strong understanding of video journalism, an understanding of how local issues impact residents, a passion for storytelling and solid video production skills. It is equally important that candidates understand community-based media and their role in facilitating dialog by involving members of the community directly in the production process.  Candidates will function as the leader of a team of volunteer community media makers who will collaboratively create professional content delivered through video, web, podcasts and social media.


  • Self motivation and proven ability to generate story ideas
  • Ability to identify, research and produce engaging video stories, and to convene public events and programming that engage the community in dialog.
  • Strong digital video production skills.
  • Willingness to work with members of the community and local organizations to create high quality productions.  Core hours may include evenings and weekends when volunteers are available or public events are occurring.
  • Strong organizational and time management skills.
  • Keen interest in civic issues.
  • Valid driver’s licence.
  • (in three locations indicated above)Must be able to work in both of Canada’s official languages.


Preference will be given to candidates who:

  • Have experience with community-based media, including the ability to work with volunteers
  • Can produce audio-only content (e.g. podcasting), online text stories, and social media to complement video products
  • Data journalism skills
  • Indigenous language skills as per locations listed above or experience working in service roles with indigenous communities

Interested applicants should complete and send this application form, along with their CV and a cover letter indicating which position(s) they are interested in and why to There is a rolling deadline, until the positions are filled.

We thank all applicants for their interest; however, only candidates who have been selected for an interview will be contacted.

CACTUS is an advocate for equity and is committed to ensuring representation in its community. We welcome applications from members of visible minorities, women, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, persons of minority sexual orientations and gender identities, and others with the skills and knowledge to productively engage with diverse communities. CACTUS seeks to maintain its commitment to excellence and recognizes that increasing the diversity of its own and its members' workplaces supports this objective.



Les candidatures sont sollicitées pour le pour le poste de :
Journaliste civique au sein de télévision communautaire dans les collectivités indiquées ci-dessous et dans les langues affichées:

Valemount, Colombie-Britannique – anglais
Hay River, Territoire du Nord-Ouest – anglais; dene un atout
Prince Albert, Saskatchewan – anglais; crie, dene and michif un atout
Neepawa, Manitoba – anglais; philipin un atout
Rockland, Ontario – français, anglais
Cheticamp, Nouvelle-Écosse – français, anglais

Durée : Du 25 novembre 2019 au 26 mars 2021, avec possibilité de renouvellement


L’Association canadienne des télévisions communautaires et leurs usagés (CACTUS) est à la recherche de journalistes télé prêt à s’impliquer dans le domaine des nouvelles « civiques » et communautaires dans les collectivités susmentionnées.

Ces postes sont financés par « L’initiative de journalisme local » et sont rendus possibles grâce à l’implication du gouvernement du Canada.

Les journalistes seront embauchés directement par les organismes de télévision communautaire pour de produire des capsules / reportages à caractère civique, sur les activités des institutions du pays (palais de justice, hôtels de ville, conseils de bande, commissions scolaires, parlement fédéral ou assemblées législatives provinciales) ou des sujets d’importance publique pour la société.

Les candidats-tes idéaux-les auront une bonne compréhension du journalisme télé, de l’impact des enjeux locaux sur les résidents, prendront un engagement envers l’éthique journalistique. Ils-Elles doivent également avoir de solides compétences en production vidéo. Il est aussi important que les candidats-tes comprennent les médias communautaires et leur rôle dans la facilitation du dialogue en faisant participer directement, tel que l’exige la Loi de la radiotélédiffusion du Canada, les membres de la collectivité au processus de production. Les personnes retenues dirigeront une équipe de journalistes bénévoles qui créeront en collaboration du contenu professionnel diffusé par la télé conventionnelle, sur le Web, les balados et les médias sociaux.


  • Motivation personnelle et capacité à générer des idées d’articles / reportages
  • Capacité d’identifier, de rechercher et de produire des vidéos sur des sujets intéressants, et d’organiser une programmation qui assurent un dialogue avec la communauté ;
  • Compétences en production vidéo numérique ;
  • Volonté de travailler avec les membres de la collectivité et les organismes locaux pour créer des productions de grande qualité ;
  • Heures flexibles, pouvant comprendre les soirées et les fins de semaine, au gré de l’actualité, des événements et de la disponibilité des bénévoles ;
  • Solides compétences d’organisation et de gestion du temps ;
  • Vif intérêt pour les questions civiques de la région desservie par la télé communautaire ;
  • Permis de conduire valide ;
  • (Pour trois endroits mentionnés ci-dessus) Doit être en mesure de travailler dans les deux langues officielles du Canada.


La préférence sera accordée aux candidats-tes avec :

  • Expérience des médias communautaires, y compris la capacité de travailler avec des bénévoles ;
  • Capacité de produire du contenu audio seulement (p. ex., baladodiffusion), des textes en ligne et pour les médias sociaux pour compléter les produits vidéo ;
  • Formation en journalisme de données ;
  • Compétences linguistiques autochtones selon les endroits susmentionnés ou expérience de travail auprès des communautés autochtones.

Les candidats-tes intéressés-es doivent remplir et envoyer le formulaire de demande, ainsi que leur CV et une lettre de présentation indiquant l’endroit qui les intéressent et pourquoi ils sont intéressés à :

Seules les personnes sélectionnées pour une entrevue seront contactés.

CACTUS est un organisme sans but lucratif qui défend l’équité en matière de radiodiffusion et est déterminé à assurer la représentation dans les diverses collectivités du pays. Nous accueillons favorablement les candidatures des membres des minorités visibles, des femmes, des peuples autochtones, des personnes handicapées, des personnes d’orientation sexuelle minoritaire et des identités de genre, ou autres qui possèdent les compétences et les connaissances nécessaires pour interagir de façon productive avec nos diverses collectivités.

CACTUS maintient son engagement envers l’excellence et reconnaît que l’accroissement de la diversité, autant dans son son milieu de travail que dans celui de ses membres, appuie cet objectif.


Application Form for Local Journalism Initiative - English

Application form to host a journalist under Heritage Canada's Local Journalism Initiative.

Completed application forms can be e-mailed up until September 6th, 2019 to

For more information about the program or the application process, contact:

  • (819) 456-2237 or (705) 279-5729 in all provinces and territories except Quebec

  • (888) 739-1616 in Quebec

Canadian Heritage Funds Community-Based TV News as Part of Local Journalism Initiative

Non-profit community-owned television will be part of the new Local Journalism Initiative for Underserved Communities, announced by the Department of Canadian Heritage on May 22nd, 2019 by the Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism.

Seven media organizations have been chosen to be Administrative Organizations which will disperse the funding, including CACTUS and the Fédération des télévisions communautaires autonomes du Québec, which represents not-for-profit community TV in Quebec.

The funding is especially welcome news for the sector. After several years of meetings with the federal government regarding the continuing relevance of community media to Canadian democracy, the Local Journalism Initiative is the first federal funding program that reaffirms the sector's importance in the digital environment.

CACTUS has been championing a multimedia and multi-platform vision for community media for a decade, believing that community media is vital to ensure that there are robust, visible, accessible, and moderated platforms for community dialogue on all platforms. CACTUS and Fédération members include licensed organizations whose content is distributed free to air, on cable, on satellite, and on the Internet, as well as unlicensed not-for-profit corporations that distribute video content over the internet and on community channels run by cable companies such as Rogers, Shaw and Videotron.

Funding under the Local Journalism Initiative will enable CACTUS and the Fédération to place professional journalists in communities underserved by other media across Canada. The journalists will co-ordinate teams of citizens and local organizations to produce news and local information, building news production capacity in these undeserved communities for the long haul.

The content produced by the journalists under the Local Journalism Initiative will also be available to media outlets across the country free of charge under a Creative Commons License.

Details with be released in upcoming weeks. For more information about the Canadian Heritage Local Journalism Initiative, click here.


CACTUS Conducts Research into Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Video Game Applications for Civic Engagement

CACTUS founder and Executive Director Cathy Edwards is conducting research at Emerson College's "Engagement Lab" in Boston into civic appications for virtual reality, augmented reality, and video games.

Edwards said "Newer, more immersive and interactive audio-visual technologies are becoming available and we want to find out how they can be leveraged for civic engagement... Put another way, how effective are these technologies as community media?"

Community media has historically pushed the boundaries of community engagement through media, whether through interactive formats such as call-in shows, involvement of studio audience, on-site presence at community events with mobile production units, or just because community members can directly participate in production. Edwards thinks the time has come to see what the new technologies can do: "Video games engage viewer agency. You can't just watch something... you have to make choices to be part of the story. This opens up the possibility of developing empathy for others, experiencing different sorts of situations. Playing games is also a great way to learn how complex systems work, whether structural or engineering systems, electoral systems, or biological systems. Moving around within a game testing the boundary helps you learn in a way you can't watching a linear video."

Virtual reality enables viewers to immerse themselves in an alternate reality. Edwards says that VR, like games, can create more empathy than traditional video. "When you really seem to be in a place, and you can move within the space, it's harder to distance yourself from something. You see what it's really like."

CACTUS hopes to have tutorials available for its members and other not-for-profit institutions to learn to leverage the potential of the new technologies. Former community TV stations in the US, and some community media centres in Canada--such as CACTUS member Regent Park Focus Youth Media Arts Centre in Toronto--are already teaching and using these new tools.


Heritage Committee Recommends Policy and Financial Support for Community Media

On June 5th, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage concluded its study on "Media and Local Communities" with the publication of a report entitled "Disruption, Change and Churning in Canada's Media Landscape".

Section 2.6.1 deals with community TV. After discussing the data presented by CACTUS and the Fedetvc, this section concludes by endorsing the call by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre form "greater recognition of all independent, not-for-profit community media “from both a policy and a funding perspective. The PIAC also believes that a study should be conducted to develop a national community media strategy. This strategy would include resources for training and financial support for community media."

In the section about the CRTC, Recommendation 9 states:

"The Committee recommends that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission review its policy framework for local and community television to determine its impact on funding for the community television sector."

Click here for the full report.


Petition Supporting Community Media Presented by Over 20 MPs

A petition supporting community media that was first presented and endorsed at the World Forum on Free Media in Montreal in August of 2016, gathered steam and was presented by over 20 members of parliament either in the House before it broke for the Christmas break, when it reconvened in early February, or directly to the Heritage Minister.

The petition was supported by MPs from all parties, including Liberals, the NDP, the Bloc, and the Conservatives.

Here is the text of the petition:

"We, the undersigned Canadian residents, acknowledge:

That the Broadcasting Act stipulates that the community, private and public elements of the Canadian broadcasting system should complement one another to ensure that a range of local, regional and national programming is available to Canadians.
That it is the policy of the CRTC that “the community channel should be primarily of a public service nature, facilitating self-expression through free and open access by
members of the community”.
That community media can effectively serve small communities, neighbourhoods and alternative voices not served by public and private media.
That digital convergence places new challenges on individuals, organizations, and communities to express themselves, to be heard, and to be visible.
Therefore we ask the government to enable a network of community-operated media centres to ensure

the survival of community TV
the availability of local media in towns and neighbourhoods not served by public or private media
all Canadian residents have access to multi-platform media skills training and content distribution in the digital economy."


"The Shattered Mirror" and "Canadian Content in a Digital World" Ignore Community Media

Two reports were recently published concerning Canadian media: "The Shattered Mirror" by the Public Policy Forum regarding news and "Canadian Content in the Digital World" by Ipsos Reid, under contract from Canadian Heritage. The latter report deals more generally with Canadian content production in the dynamic digital environment. Canadian Heritage also provided some of the funding for "The Shattered Mirror".

The Canadian Association of Community Television Users and Stations (CACTUS) and the Fédération des télévisions communautaires autonomes du Québec (la Fédération) agree with the reports' main observations: increasing media concentration among ownership groups, falling revenues from traditional news resulting in less regional content, and the rise of social media as sources of news and information of questionable credibility.

However, if 'Information is as vital to democracy as pure air, safe streets, good schools and public health', as states The Shattered Mirror' (CACTUS cited the same 2009 Knight Foundation report in our submission to DigiCanCon), we are surprised and disappointed to find no mention of community TV and media and their long-understood contribution to democratic local expression and civic journalism.

For 50 years, community TV and media have ensured a participative and democratic media landscape, and a local information offering that has all but disappeared from the big media groups, not to mention our role in enabling emerging and established journalists and creators to learn new skills and test ideas on low-risk local platforms. Community media are the 'farm teams' that drive our creative industries.

If civic journalism is marching rapidly 'to the precipice' as The Shattered Mirror states, it is a disservice to the reports' readers that the alternative offered by our members goes unmentioned. Our members, along with those of the National Community Radio Association, the Association des radios communautaires du Québec and the Association des radios communautaires du Canada include almost 200 CRTC-licensed entities, in addition to 50 incorporated but unlicensed production groups that contribute what little civic journalism remains on the community stations of cable companies, such as Rogers TV, Shaw TV and TVCogeco.

Community media are stated in the Broadcasting Act as constituting one of three pillars of our system. Canada is widely credited with having invented the institution. As a nation we figured out 50 years ago that our geography is too vast and our population too dispersed to serve everyone with public- and private-sector news bureaux. We have TV stations in Valemount, British Columbia (population 1400) and in Wikwemikong First Nation in Ontario, and a newly launched radio station in Baie Verte, Newfoundland. It's a lesson we seem to have forgotten. Canada has always had a small and fragile media economy, dependent on government support. Community media are our secret weapon.

In any process of taking stock of our media resouces moving forward, how was it possible therefore to ignore a whole sector? The public- and private-sector broadcasters that everyone agrees are not filling the gaps were certainly mentioned.

Unlike online-only platforms that are the subject of 'fake news' concerns captured in the two reports, community broadcasters are licensed, and directed by trained journalists who catalyze, guide and curate content in communities that would otherwise have no voice. And we do this for 1/10th the cost of the public and private sectors. Put another way, for every federal dollar spent on the public or private sector, we can produce 10 times as much or serve 10 times as many communities, while fulfilling civic engagement and creative incubation roles for our media industries to boot.

We note that the Ipsos Reid report captures ideas from roundtables held across the country to which our members were not invited, overseen by an 'expert advisory panel' from which our sector was excluded.

If the report-writers had considered our written submissions, they would have seen that we proposed an Option C (community), alongside the Options A and B proposed in "The Shattered Mirror". It's a system that's already in place, functional, but under-funded and in jeopardy of losing the remainder of its financing if the disastrous recommendations of CRTC 2016-224 go into effect in September (a danger mentioned only in passing in "The Shattered Mirror"). Option C for COMMUNITY is efficient, realistic, and sustainable, compared to propping up the broken private system that is front and centre in the reports. Bandaids, like the CRTC's redirection of almost the entire national budget for community media to private news, are not the answer. Reinforcing community media—rather than destroying it—would fulfill many of the objectives identified in these reports.