You’ve seen the ads on television and had your comedynetwork.ca viewing pleasure disrupted by the same men harping on about how “local TV matters.” Then you’ve seen ads with a rallying cry to “Stop the TV tax.”
But what are these guys getting at? Who’s fighting who? And why?
Basically, the crux of the matter is that cable and satellite don’t pay to distribute local programming they pick up from broadcasters.
This matter has been brought to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission twice, and twice the commission has supported the situation.
The CRTC will hold two more hearings on the matter. On Nov. 16 the value of the broadcasters’ signals will be determined; on Dec. 7 the public will have its say in the debate. Then the commission will report to the government.
If the CRTC says it’s OK, broadcasters will be granted the right to pursue negotiations with cable and satellite companies to receive a fee for carriage.
Here’s a rundown of what either side is saying:
Canadian broadcasters (CBC, CTV, Global and the A Channel): “Local TV Matters”
– Cable should pay to carry and distribute local TV programming.
– New fees are critical to the survival of local TV. As many as 30 stations from coast-to-coast risk going under without extra revenue.
– Cable and satellite providers profit from local programming.
– We’re not asking consumers to pay more, we just want cable and satellite to share the wealth
– Cable and satellite companies pay $300 million every year for U.S. programming
Paul Sparkes, executive vice-president of corporate affairs for CTV:
“It’s pretty basic. They’re taking our programming, selling it to you, the consumer, charging for it on your bill and not paying anything back to the people who are doing the hard work.”
Cable and satellite providers (Bell, Bell Aliant, Rogers, Telus and Cogeco)”Stop the TV Tax”
– We won’t absorb these fees. We’ll pass the buck to consumers, charging them a “tax” of $5 to $10 per month.
– Local TV is paid enough in government fees; this is just another handout they want.
– Rebroadcasting local TV signals provides advertisers with a much larger audience than they would have otherwise.
– We are required to carry local stations in our basic packages.
– We paid $1.9 billion to Canadian networks.
– CTV alone paid $355 million on U.S. programming, but only $230 million on Canadian.
Mirko Bibic, senior vice-president, regulatory and government affairs for Bell:
“There is no justification for such increases at this time; no additional value is being delivered to viewers by broadcasters. Satellite and cable providers stand on the side of television consumers to fight this charge.”