Write a letter to the CRTC Secretary General to save small broadcasters / by Heather Taylor

Today, I got this email from Kern, the Program Development Manager from Access. Basically there’s been public debate between cable and satellite companies and Canada’s broadcasters over revenue. I think it’s an important issue to look at from all sides but I’ll let you decide what you want to do. For myself, I’m going to send a letter. It’s companies like Access that filmmakers (like me!) make the programming they’re passionate about.

“I’m sure you’ve heard of the recent public debate between cable and satellite companies and Canada’s broadcasters. Perhaps what you didn’t know was the impact that this issue has on ACCESS.

For some years ACCESS has been funded by advertising revenue generated by our popular prime time programs. We use this revenue to offset the costs of non-commercial educational programming in the morning and afternoon, and we use this revenue to produce our daily provincial current affairs program, Alberta Primetime, and to support independent production.

The only reason we are able to continue our educational broadcasts and to support independent production is because we are part of the CTV conventional broadcast system. Without high profile popular programming to generate ad revenue and without the local CTV production infrastructure in Edmonton and Calgary, ACCESS cannot exist.

As an independent producer, you are aware of the importance of personal involvement in social and political issues. The survival of CTV conventional stations and therefore the survival of ACCESS has become a political issue.

The outcome of important public hearings set to be held in Ottawa this December will impact you directly. The importance and the breadth of this issue is exemplified by the partnership between companies that are ostensibly competitors – CTV, Global and the CBC – who are combining to shed light on this case. Please visit http://www.localtvmatters.com/ to get the facts about this issue.

With this email, we are asking you to send a letter to the CRTC indicating your support of our industry’s efforts to simply seek the right to negotiate with cable and satellite companies to determine a fair market value for our local TV signals – fair compensation for our product. As it now stands, cable and satellite companies take our stations for free and sell them to the public. Local broadcasters receive nothing from this, and yet we’re the ones who produce news and current affairs, license independent productions and help our communities grow and connect with the world around them.

You are likely aware that 2 local television stations have went dark since August – CKX in Brandon, MB and CKRD in Red Deer, AB. Over the next year or two, there are another 20 to 30 that will be closed unless the regulations that were developed in the middle of the last century are changed. The fate of ACCESS is inextricably linked with the fate of the conventional broadcast system. If you wish to appear in front of the commission, please indicate this in your letter.

This is the final time this issue will be discussed and ruled on.

Your letter must be either mailed or faxed and received by the CRTC by November 2nd- quote CRTC #2009-614

Secretary General
Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0N2
Submitted via fax (819) 994-0218
Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2009-614

Please email or fax me (Kern) a copy of your letter once finished. My fax number is 780-484-4426.”