Ottawa (August 3, 2016) According to a letter received by the Canadian Association of Community Television Users and Stations (CACTUS), the CRTC has deferred consideration of almost 60 complaints against community TV channels operated by Eastlink, Cogeco, Shaw and Rogers until their cable license renewals this fall. The complaints were filed by CACTUS in partnership with community groups in March and April, 2016. Data regarding local and community-access programming produced by cable community channels was also placed on the public record of the CRTC's recent community and local TV hearing, and can be viewed online at The channels either fail to air adequate local content (generally 60% of the program schedule) or adequate citizen-generated content (generally 50% of the schedule)—or both. The deferral is the latest in a series of CRTC failures to enforce community channel policy:

Under Access to Information requests, CACTUS discovered that CRTC audits of community channels from 2002 to 2005 revealed that the majority of cable companies did not air enough local and access content. No remedial action was taken.

CACTUS filed data during the 2010 community TV policy review showing that only 19 of more than 100 cable community channels met the 60% local threshold. The rest shared programming across multiple cable systems.

After inviting CACTUS to produce an 170-page analysis of cable community channels logs in 2011, revealing widespread non-compliance with CRTC policy, the Commission itself refused to consider the data. CACTUS received a 4-page letter from CRTC staff stating “In most cases, BDUs meet the minimum requirements regarding the broadcast of access and local programming.” Staff refused to share the basis for this conclusion.

In 2013, ICTV-Montreal filed a complaint against Videotron's Matv community channel, under a clause in CRTC policy that stated that in instances of non-compliance, a not-for-profit group could administer the license and budget for the community channel. Despite an unequivocal CRTC finding of non-compliance, ICTV received a letter from the Commission stating that its application to run the community channel in Montreal had been “disposed of”.

The CRTC's local and community TV policy announced on June 15th, 2016 removed this clause, on the grounds that it created “instability” for BDUs. The new policy adopted a proposal by Rogers to divert 5/6ths of the national budget for community television to support private news.

As far back as 1986, the Report on the Task Force on Broadcasting recommended that community TV should be separately licensed from cable systems. Today's deferral underscores this point. How can citizens address problems with community channel service if they have to wait 5-10 years for a cable license renewal? And why should cable companies care, if there's no license to lose?