CACTUS Contributes Fresh Ideas to CBC Licence Renewal Hearing

CACTUS participated in both the written and oral phases of the CBC licence renewal process. Although commenting on the role of the public broadcaster would normally not fall within our mandate, we decided to participate because CACTUS' Executive Director Catherine Edwards and Karen Wirsig of the Canadian Media Guild had co-authored and presented a paper in the spring at the Journalism Strategies conference at McGill regarding models by which public and community broadcasters could collaborate to improve local media. The paper proposes models by which more quality and quantity of local content could be created in an austere financial environment. It responds to statements in the CBC's 2015 strategy document "Everyone, Everyway" in which the CBC commits to maximize its presence in the regions by entering into new partnerships and using new technologies. Examples of such partnership could include:

  • sharing of transmission infrastructure (our recent campaign to salvage CBC towers and transmitters for communities)

  • sharing of facilities in an affiliate relationship (e.g. local volunteer-production as well as CBC network content within a shared schedule, or two separate licences working out of a shared facility)
  • sharing of content, possibly by uploading to a central server for CBC regional news outlets to access

The paper proposes the establishment of a fund to encourage such partnerships, which was endorsed in the CMG's presentation before the CRTC.

These ideas were also suggested independently as part of the Payette report, which recommended that Telequebec source content from Quebec community broadcasters.

While individual CBC journalists and staff assisted at the conference in the spring, and CACTUS and the CMG have sent copies of the presentation to the CBC, no formal response has yet been received from the Corporation. We did, however, receive endorsements for the idea from OpenMedia and the Public Interest Advocacy Centre at the CBC licence renewal hearing, and in the document "Reimagine CBC", the product of months of public consultation conducted by OpenMedia in partnership with and Gen Why. Recommendation 4 out of 5 in this document is "Collaborate with the right partners, who have deep roots in the community." The document cites Karen's and Cathy's paper, as well as CACTUS' campaign to encourage the CBC to offer its decommissioned towers and transmitters to communities to repurpose.

We look forward to the opportunity to discuss these ideas directly with the CBC in the months ahead.

Cathy's and Karen's paper is available on our web site here: Public and Community Partnerships to Improve Local Media.

You can read the "Reimagine CBC" document here.

The transcript from the CBC hearing in which a new fund to develop public-community partnerships was proposed can be found: here (search for "CACTUS").