Save local TV, stop the TV tax!

I agree with both sides—because they’re both wrong


 

Sorting through the duelling barrages in the interminable public relations war between the cable and broadcast industries over “fee for carriage” — now mercifully coming to an end — I find myself agreeing with both sides.

Yes, it is unfair that cable companies should get to use the broadcasters’ signals for free. And yes, it is outrageous that the broadcasters should be foisting another tax on the long-suffering television public (to say nothing of using their news programs to promote it): because if the cable companies are forced to pay the broadcasters for their signals, you can bet the consumer will wind up paying for it in the end.

In any logical universe, there would be a simple solution to this. In that universe, the broadcasters could charge a fee for their signals if they wished — but cable companies would be under no obligation to carry them. Cable companies could pass on these fees to consumers — but consumers would not be forced to subscribe to channels they didn’t want. Instead of forbidding broadcasters to charge for signals the cable companies are obliged to carry that consumers are then forced to pay for, nobody would be forced or forbidden to do anything.

And in the end, everyone would have to compromise, and to share. The broadcasters and the cable companies would negotiate fees between them — it would be more than zero, probably, but less than the broadcasters would prefer. The cable companies would try to pass this on to the consumer, succeeding only in part.

But that’s not the world we live in — not in this country. In this country, everything is decided by the CRTC, everything is based on force, and as a consequence, nobody has any incentive to share or compromise: it’s winner take all, depending on who can get the CRTC to side with them. So rather than focus on making better programs, or cutting rates, or otherwise improving their product, both sides spend inordinate amounts on crude propaganda campaigns trying to sway the public their way, and thus to pressure the CRTC and/or the cabinet to award them the prize.

So, as I say, I agree with both of them, but only because they’re both wrong.


 

Save local TV, stop the TV tax!

  1. End the tyranny of "basic" cable NOW. I'm paying for FOUR French channels, but don't get Monday Night Football!!

    • Wow, you're deprived there Joan. How do you get through your day?

      • Love the sarcasm!

        But she makes an excellent point. Do you agree or disagree that its fair for someone to be paying for something they don't use ?

        • i agree why pay for some thing i don't want?

    • Joan, you may purchase the channels for anything you want. Or, if close enough to the border, put up a tall antenna (digital, mind). Or head out to a sports bar on Mondays.

      And if you don't like basic cable, don't buy it. So, as much as "basic" sucks, you do have a choice.

    • Quelle idiotie! You don't have to watch the FOUR French channel. You don't have to pay either. Get an antenna, download the shows you want to watch or don't watch TV at all. Do you continue to pay because raging against the Frenchies makes you feel alive? Do you watch all the other channels? Do you watch the Indian one? What about the Christian one? Do you watch the muslim show on Saturday?

      • Unfortunately, the antenna is not a viable solution for sports fans, as none of the sports stations are broadcast via the airwaves. No doubt, Joan would like the option of getting a sports fix, and ditching the fluff she is forced to purchase along with it.

    • Here is a possible solution: FreeHD!! (No, I am not making this up)

      http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2009/2009-632.h
      http://www.crtc.gc.ca/public/broad/applications/2

      This guy is proposing to offer Canadians all their local television stations, via satellite, for FREE! If the distributor is not making any money on the local channels, the broadcasters can't complain the cable/satellite company is 'making money off their signal' and it may actually force the incumbent cable/satellite companies to compete.
      The Canadian consumer would be the BIG winner here <sarcasm>sadly, that is why the CRTC will reject this application</sarcasm>

  2. It appears that I agree with Andrew Coyne.

    Quick AC, write something about Quebec so I know that we haven't crossed over into the twilight zone.

  3. Whoa. Andrew, cmon. Really. Do some checkin. I agree with your central premise here – neither side is great. But the "CRTC is all powerful" argument only works so far as they can enforce their stuff. They can't fine or force their will. On the Local Program Improvement fund, the CRTC flat out said to cable and sat: "You guys made 2 billion dollars, you can eat this small fund." and they said Eff you, we're passing it on.

    The cable and sat companies have jacked rates so much for so long that we just take it — why am I paying a system access fee? why are txts that are … free for them b/c of the technology costing 15 cents? My Mom and Dad are Bright House Networks subscribers in Florida. They pay less, the picture's gorgeous, the service is FANTASTIC. No comparison to the misery that is Shaw, Rogers, Cogeco, etc.

    The thing that's amazing here is that everybody has protection but the consumer. We have US networks, if the broadcasters dont' want to do programs and be serious about making them good, then what are we paying for? Seriously. I say this as a guy who writes them. Yet every broadcaster wants their cancon reduced.

    Cable has protection.
    Nets have protection.

    But the only thing people really bitch about is Canadian programs — even though, hell, at least we made a few people laugh with Corner Gas, or Slings and Arrows, or Trailer Park Boys.

    This display is awful, and totally a travesty, and has nothing to do with us. But it's not that the CRTC is all powerful. It's that the people on the CRTC are the wrong people, and they don't have teeth, like the FCC.

    • "The thing that's amazing here is that everybody has protection but the consumer."

      Totally.
      The CRTC's mandate is to ensure that both the broadcasting and telecommunications systems serve the Canadian public.
      This has not been the case for quite some time. It has been suggested that we are experiencing "Regulatory Capture" with the CRTC, for a wide range of different reasons.

      While I have not been paying as much attention to what has been going on with broadcasting, their recent telecommunications rulings pertaining to Internet bandwidth throttling and Internet Usage based billing has been pathetic. These dinosaurs are completely out of the loop of what Canadian consumers need – real competition. Instead, everything favours the incumbents. Sadly, there is nothing in place to ensure that the commissioners are neutral. They are wined and dined by the lobbyists for the incumbents, and they can get away with it by calling this relationship "industry research".

      Some have become so sick of the CRTC, that they are calling for more drastic measures:
      http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/

    • The only consumer protection out there is to cancel your cable and start downloading your favourite shows in HD off the net. The only way to lower subscriber fees is to make the cable companies beg us for our subscriptions. I called Rogers a few months back and told them I was switching to Bell. They knocked $100 a month off my bill for 12 months without batting an eyelash. That's for Cable, Internet and Home Phone. The public needs to start bullying the cable companies.

      • "The only consumer protection out there is to cancel your cable and start downloading your favourite shows in HD off the net."

        This would be the same Internet that's controlled by either the telcos (who offer TV service), or the cable companies. Even so-called independent resellers still use the cable or telcos' last mile.

        There's no escape.

      • Unless you now have the year dor free, you
        were getting gauged in the first place, Sucker!

  4. What Denis said. Both sides wrong…best compromise would be nothing is must carry and let consumers choose and pay for what they want.

    But no teeth means just lots of queries and hearings with some suggestions or recommendations…until we (the govt) arm the CRTC with ability to fine heavily or take away/suspend licenses, consumer will take hit while Canadian creatives and CRTC take blame

  5. I want an on-demand universe.
    You either give it to me or I'll go and get it on my own.
    And I can.
    I just have to convince my wife to forgo the immediacy of conventional tv.

    At the very least, if you insist on the Can-Con quota, then let me decide how to fill it.

    And I find it funny that CTV wants to save local tv when they don't even have a website for Saskatchewan.
    Looks like they've already hollowed out that market on their own.

    I hate when the ants fight over the aphids.
    It just changes the terms of how the are milked.

    The way things are will seem as quaint as eight tracks when someone with money sees the technological opportunity to change it.

  6. Perfect, Andrew, simply perfect.

  7. It's about time someone said something about this insane advertising battle going on. What a farce. Trash the CRTC, it has gone way beyond its mandate.

    • Speaking of advertising – CTV is neverending. I thought lack of advertising revenue was causing them trouble. I think they are misinforming us……..never ending ads, ads, ads. Thank goodness for the mute button.

    • You and I don't agree on much, scf, but I'm right there with you on this one. The CRTC had a purpose once, but they've either outlived it or lost their way.

      • I'm a little surprised that you (and possibly OntarioTown as well) are in agreement. Go figure.

  8. I agree with Coyne. I am so sick of the commercials and the ads.
    I am disgusted how each side presents itself as a helpless victim, when in reality, both are making tons of $$, and it will be the consumers who will be getting the shaft.

    I enjoyed professor Geist's take on the subject: http://tinyurl.com/ykx7ngy

    "The answer may lie in giving consumers more choice, by allowing them to pay only for the channels they want – regardless of whether they are local, foreign, or specialty (such as CNN or movie networks)."

  9. The CRTC forces local stations to have CanCon that costs $ and that very few watch. The locals make their money rebroadcasting US programming up to their CRTC-enforced limits. They simulcast so that the CRTC may force cable & satellite to yank the US networks in favour of the Canadian on these simulcasts, so that local stations can overcharge for the advertising. And the CRTC forces cable-sat to serve up a mandatory list of local stations. So cable-sat charges customers for these mandatory signals. Now locals want a piece of what cable-sat has been forced to carry…

    CRTC forces market distortions. Result: a mess.

    Query to Coyne: How do your Rogers overlords like your current missive?

    • Madeyoulook…are you aware that, um…the United States is in fact a whole other country?

      It's all well and good to talk about "distorting the market" but the reality is that there has NEVER been a market here. There can't be. For a whole bunch of reasons — most of which predate TV, if you want to give over your entire broadcast system to Americans, then fine. Become American. Because that's what we're talking about. You don't get to say you're Greek and speak Spanish. For as much trouble as we think Quebec is, they are right that if they lose their French language, they lose their identity. From Gay marriage, to medicare to pot to religiousity to a hundred other things, Christ — the UN….Canada has proven that our populace has divergent views than Americans. You ingest only American TV programming, those views go away. Some protectionism in the cultural sector is logical and desirable — which is why every country save the USA practices it. We are not special or out of step in this regard, except in one case — we are the only country in the world with US networks in our houses 24/7 — that are not the US.

      USA culture is a Magnet. You can't talk about a pure market force argument when you live next to the biggest heffing magnet in the world. The problem comes when the players start arguing over who's more magnetic, and who just lies there inert and unattractable.

      • Go figure. Canadians choose to consume USA cultural product. Better get the taxpayers to support an agency to screw them over for it.

        Nice.

        • Aw, c'mon. It's been a half-hour already! And my two contributions are only at -1 each! Surely you supporters of stiffing Canadian consumers can put down your Dairy-Farmers-of-Canada pom-poms and do better? -3 maybe?

          • I'm still trying to figure out how watching HBO puts me against gay marriage.

          • That's a toughie. Did you watch HBO instead of attending the gay pride parade?

          • Yes. But I was watching Queer as Folk and The L Word. Which is all the more confusing since they're American shows, I believe…

          • You need to be a member to vote.

  10. I agree with Coyne. I am so sick of the commercials and the ads.
    I am disgusted how each side presents itself as a helpless victim, when in reality, both are making tons of $$, and it will be the consumers who will be getting the shaft.

    I enjoyed professor Geist's take on the subject: http://tinyurl.com/ykx7ngy

    "The answer may lie in giving consumers more choice, by allowing them to pay only for the channels they want – regardless of whether they are local, foreign, or specialty (such as CNN or movie networks)."

    • Geist's "solution" is attractive…because it ONLY takes consumers' views into account. And that sounds good because we think we should be the only consideration. But really, this is no diffferent than saying, "solve the problems the airlines are having by giving consumers everything they want." Or, " the way to solve the problem with Oil and the Oil Sands is to poll consumers and do whatever they say," or "our response to global warming should be decided entirely by Hydro customer surveys."

      Kids. That's not how it works.

      Right now we have a system that is too dominated by Cable and Satellite interests, and the Broadcast Networks. But overcorrecting by putting EVERYTHING in the hands of the consumer — ignoring the real issues — is no smarter than saying to a lawyer like Geist, "you law people talk too funny! We make law now!"

      • A few quick questions:

        Just how frigging stupid do you think Canadians are?

        Do you really think protecting Canadian television is as important as protecting the environment?

        • I don't think you're stupid, Sean. I think you're ignorant. It's a very different thing. If you want to stamp your feet and remove all protection or tax breaks or whatever given the film and tv industry, that's great. But while we're doing that — are we going to tear up the whole economy? Because from mining to pharma to farming to manufacturing to small business, most of the Canadian economy is bolstered and stimulated the same way.

          Beware anyone who says they have a simple solution.

          Oh, and as for your (very funny) comment above: "I'm still trying to figure out how watching HBO puts me against gay marriage." It doesn't, of course. But here's how it already works…many of the reality shows you see in the USA on the cable channels like HGTV or Food are produced in Canada. I know people who make and produce this stuff. They're not allowed to show gay couples. Ever. Because the US net kicks in money, and gay people might offend viewers in Alabama. Support that system enough and you are distorting the truth of life here. Do that enough and the culture is warped by what you see. Every other country in the world understands this. And historically, a country that looks only to another for their cultural thought and life does not survive. So be all Joe Canadian if you want, but the two are connected.

          Doesn't matter to me — I'm a dual citizen. Whichever way it goes, I'm coo.

          • "Beware anyone who says they have a simple solution."

            Indeed. Also, beware those who assume they are smarter (no, make that less ignorant) than everybody else.

            But above all, beware of those who abuse seemingly altruistic ideology to protect their own livelihoods. Met anyone like that lately, Denis? :)

          • Yes. Let's recap. My handle is "heywriterboy."

            I admit I'm a TV writer all through this thread. So obviously, yes, I'm abusing an ideology and nefariously concealing my intent. And it's a little sad that you don't accept the distinction between "ignorant" and "stupid," but that's not my fault. I don't know you from a hole in the ground, and you don't me. The difference between us seems to be that you want to go ad hominem — dismissing what I have to say because of the person who's saying it. That's fine.

            The point is that both the Cable companies and the broadcasters are abusing their positions here through throwing what is essentially lobbying money on the airwaves asking people to care about something that they shouldn't care about. I don't need you to love Canadian TV. I'll take the 2 million watching FLASHPOINT or the 1 million watching MERCER, they're more than enough. I don't need you to think about this stuff at all.

            But when you say something that's ignorant on the subject, and I call you out because I actually know the issues and the complexity of it, the response that, "oh you have a self interest in this" is terribly weak sauce.

            This isn't grade school. You don't get your head patted and your self-esteem built for having an opinion.

          • "I admit I'm a TV writer all through this thread." Really? My reading comprehension must be crapping out.

            It's certainly not ad hominem to note that you have a vested interested in a protected and funded Canadian television industry. It doesn't mean your arguments are necessarily wrong, but it does make one question the motives behind your zealotry.

            For the record, you've made a ton of wrong assumptions about my knowledge and positions on the basis of a few quips. If your intent is to bring people on side, I'd suggest you tone down things a bit. Shouting at folks and dismissing their perspectives out of hand won't do your cause any good. It could even serve to make a mildly sympathetic individual like me support the complete removal of all the protections and funding that help to pay your mortgage.

            Anyway, I'm done with this chat. Hope you and your righteous anger have a nice day…

          • Okay Sean. At least you stopped before the Hitler comparison tipping point. That's something. Have a great day!

          • "I admit I'm a TV writer all through this thread."

            It is just sad to see you displaying so little respect for the audiences (and thus actual customers) of your work. I don't know what programs you have contributed to, but I suspect I have far more respect for you than you have shown here.

            You presume that giving audiences more choice and easier access to the programs they want would decrease revenues for authors, performers, etc. My analysis, similar to related "copyright" conversations, is that creating more direct relationships between creators and audiences (and getting rid of as many intermediaries as possible) will increase creator revenue.

            What Geist said isn't ignorant on the subject, or only considering the interests of audiences, just modern. I don't think he went far enough, and my own submission seeks to eradicate the incumbent phone and cable companies towards a convergence model. http://www.digital-copyright.ca/node/5079

            Convergence is inevitable — whether convergence will benefit creators and their audiences, or just the old-economy intermediaries in the only thing that is up for debate.

  11. Isn't it being changed so that in 2011, when they phase out analog cable you will have complete free choice over what channels you want?

    I thought the CRTC had decreed that.

    • Check out: http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/oca-bc.nsf/eng/h_ca0

      The Digital Television transition in 2011 only directly affects over the air (OTA) television. Those using an antennae will need to get a new tuner or television set (with new tuner built in) to receive these signals.

      The cable companies and broadcasters are abusing confusion over the digital transition to yet again screw audiences. Some broadcasters are not going to transition some over the air stations, and claim that this is because of digital (IE: blame someone else). Some cable companies are trying to charge more for "digital" cable, even though the over-the-air digital transition has absolutely nothing to do with cable (IE: if they drop analog stations from Cable then that is their own choice, having nothing to do with the OTA transition)

  12. Ultimate solution- get rid of your TV.

    There's nothing (good) on anyhow that's not available SOMEWHERE online.

    • Now if only we had decent bandwidth so that we could access the alternatives via the internet.
      Isn't it rather peculiar that the media companies are also internet service providers,
      and that they have been placing limitations (with CRTC approval) on bandwidth (throttling) and usage (caps).

    • I'm not wanting to read into what you are saying, but I'm looking for legal access which pays the creators. I'm not aware of online availability in *Canada* (IE: Hulu doesn't count, and using a proxy doesn't make it OK) of the programs I want.

      I'm not making a value judgement about those who don't pay for their programming. I don't consider it "theft" http://www.digital-copyright.ca/Jefferson_Debate , and it is hard to even claim it reduces "sales" if the content isn't made available for sale in Canada. I do believe that we need to push copyright holders to being willing to actually license their works to us in the way we want to receive it and get paid. I don't think we can simply say "go online" when thus far only a minority of programming is legally available online in Canada.

      (Heck, if I could pre-subscribe to DRM-free online access to the next season of "Defying Gravity" out of Vancouver, I would have done so already…)

      BTW: For music I use http://emusic.com . The major labels don't get any of my money since they don't want any of my money, but I get DRM-free http://flora.ca/own music from many artists — including many Canadian artists.

    • I'm not wanting to read into what you are saying, but I'm looking for legal access which pays the creators. I'm not aware of online availability in *Canada* (IE: Hulu doesn't count, and using a proxy doesn't make it OK) of the programs I want.

      I'm not making a value judgement about those who don't pay for their programming. I don't consider it "theft" http://www.digital-copyright.ca/Jefferson_Debate , and it is hard to even claim it reduces "sales" if the content isn't made available for sale in Canada. I do believe that we need to push copyright holders to being willing to actually license their works to us in the way we want to receive it and get paid. I don't think we can simply say "go online" when thus far only a minority of programming is legally available online in Canada.

      (Heck, if I could pre-subscribe to DRM-free online access to the next season of "Defying Gravity" out of Vancouver, I would have done so already…)

      BTW: For music I use http://emusic.com . The major labels don't get any of my money since they don't want any of my money, but I get DRM-free http://flora.ca/own music from many artists — including many Canadian artists.

  13. Protecting Canadian content? There's a reason people watch US productions – they like it better.

    People decide what they like – not government, not cable co's and not CTV, etc.

    • fab. And where you wrote "Canadian Content," put "meat", "beef," "milk," "pills," "construction workers," "office supplies," "real estate agents," "game developers" etc. The entire economy receives breaks, tax credits, incentives, and funding the same way that "CanCon" does.

      And as simplistic as your view is, it doesn't account for the millions who watch and love Flashpoint, Corner Gas, The Border, Degrassi, or kids shows like Total Drama Action, Total Drama Island, Stargate, Sanctuary, Battle of the Blades, the milions watching Heartland and Mercer, etc. For a country with a tenth the population, we have a surprising number of homegrown hits. You can repeat the very Canadian negative cant all day, long as you want. Doesn't make it true. And know also that the very same thing was said about Canadian bands and music back in the 1970's. If you made that claim today people would look at you and think you're an ass. Well. IF the donkey's head fits…

      • The irony of having an American born Canadian lecture Canadians about culture is not lost on me.

        It is such a shame that so many Canadians seemingly have an inbred deposition against Canadian content.
        This is the price of freedom, I guess? Take this argument anywhere else, and it is a no-brainer – What decent citizen would not support homegrown culture?

        The wretched Canadian submissive inferiority complex is just plain sad. What's worse, is that much of it is based from ignorance. I have no doubt that the majority of people who bash the local industry have not even bothered to check out what they are bashing. It goes without saying that production values have always been lower in comparison to the US, but thankfully, cheaper technology is now able to bridge that gap.

        By my own admission, I barely watched any Canadian produced shows. It was only after talking to a friend who works in the industry that I ended up checking a few things out, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed them….

        • Sam, the inferiority complex is there for a reason. The only reason these things exist is BECAUSE we have to pay for them whether we watch them or not. Subscribers don't matter. Eyeballs for advertisers don't matter. The film and TV tax credit,and the blessed maple leaf in that time slot for the CRTC that will then permit CSI-pick-your-city in another : that's all that matters.

          • Well – based on our geographic proximity to a cultural slot machine, I do not see a problem with subsidizing this industry. There are not too many other countries out there that have such direct competition that uses the same language. As a taxpayer, there are tons of things that I pay for that I do not use, and that I do not directly derive benefit from. But I'm cool with that. I'd love to see a day when Canadians would stand by their own, and thus create a market where subsidies are not needed. But, it ain't gonna happen. Some of the products from down there are just too good to resist! And they are marketed ever so strongly, how can anyone from the masses resist?

            In any case – your reason for not watching is not the same for everyone else. I would imagine that it is only a small pocket of people who do not watch Canadian shows out of protest for subsidies. Most do not watch because they limit themselves to a finite amount of time in front of y'olde tellie, and the dance card is for the most part already filled out….

          • Well – based on our geographic proximity to a cultural slot machine, I do not see a problem with subsidizing this industry.

            There is no shortage of don't-see-a-problem "reasons" why any number of Canadian industries are distorted by legalized pilfering from productive taxpayers. Sadly, it doesn't make any of it right.

      • And where you wrote "Canadian Content," put "meat", "beef," "milk," "pills," "construction workers," "office supplies," "real estate agents," "game developers" etc. The entire economy receives breaks, tax credits, incentives, and funding the same way that "CanCon" does.

        With pleasure. The entire economy deserves better than to be some sort of bizarre micromanaged mess, all at the whim of whichever government of the day is making the mess.

      • Hey, you forgot to list some of my favourite shows to come out of Vancouver such as Battlestar Gallactica (I purchased "The Plan" the first day it was available last week) and Defying Gravity (So hoping that we get at least a second season!!!).

        *grins*

        I do agree that most Canadians are unaware of the "Canadian content" in the shows they view.

    • American contents, productions, whatever the hell you wanna call it, are severely subsidized/fueled by American taxpayer dolarz.

  14. Very soon internet telivision will make this entire war between the suppliers and the distributors a pointless feud over the remaining bits of control each party has over the product.

  15. "… only because they're both wrong"

    I agree, but I have less sympathy for the broadcasters who want to "save" local television. Perhaps they could desist from competing with themselves for advertising dollars with 30 or 40 specialty channels some of them in the exact same market (is TSN 3 coming soon? Much Much More More Music?)

  16. One problem with your proposal, Andrew: what happens if a small group of people in a local area (or say, a condo tower) decide to set up a neighbourhood (or roof-top) antenna to pick up and distribute over-the-air signals to their homes? Basically, this would start as a small, co-op version of a cable company. Does the co-op, splitting the equipment capital and maintenance costs, now have to pay for something the members could have for free? At what point do people acting collectively to share costs to obtain free-to-air signals become a "cable company" that has to pay fees to the networks? After all, a small group like that has no bargaining power in the face of CTV and Global — or even their local stations individually — the way Rogers & co have.

    • but assumedly, the co-op is not for profit, where as Bell/Rogers are corporate entities.

    • When cable companies were first formed, what they were doing was simply illegal. They were taking television stations out of the air and retransmitting them without permission from or payment to the relevant copyright holders. In Canada not only do the creators of the programming have copyright, but a broadcaster has a copyright in the communication signals that it broadcasts (Section 21 of the Canadian Copyright Act). http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/showtdm/cs/C-42

      Redistribution to someone elses home is very likely already illegal under Canadian copyright (IANAL, but I hang around with many). It is only with exceptions for cable companies that they were able to do this without permission. Your co-op would likely need to do the same thing, or just hope you don't show up to anyone seeking to enforce that copyright.

      Note: I don't agree with this restriction, but that is because I believe only creators and not operators of equipment should gain copyright. I'm not a supporter of broadcasters gaining copyright, which is part of the 1961 International Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations (WIPO).

  17. Of course, Coyne's proposal is precisely the counterproposal of the cable companies.

    And damn the networks for forcing me to take the side of Rogers Cable. Damn them all to hell!

  18. You get to pay twice for the CBC : once through your taxes, and a second time through you cable bill. Time to sell off the CBC, the sooner the better.

    • Was actually shocked that no-one from the anti CBC brethren jumped on this from the onset!

      Forget having a media outlet that is not completely dependent on corporate overlords!
      The corporate news agencies are awesome, and they totally report on everything and anything.
      The best democracy is the one where voice is given to only certain vantage points.
      Looking forward to that world of awesomeness……

      • You're being silly. The CBC has always been over deferential to the government of the day. At the same time, it's full of socialists and separatists. Everytime it tries to reincarnate itself, it just become crappier. And I'm tired of paying for crap. If it's not shut down, it should be put on pay per view and make its revenues from that. Then we will see what the CBC is really worth. Also, the existence of the CBC cuts every other potential left of centre but private provider of news totally out of the market. The Toronto Star has the highest circulation rate of any newspaper in Canada. There is no reason to believe that a private broadcaster couldn't both be profitable and do better. The CBC is a millstone around the necks of the left in Canada.

  19. The challenge with transforming our broadcast and cable packages so that nothing is forced or mandatory is that local stations in small markets are then playing a guessing game of whether or not they'll have the funds to broadcast in any given month or quarter.

    Large broadcast markets finance smaller ones; if individuals in large broadcast markets no longer subscribe to their local TV (because they can find their local news elsewhere, or they just don't give two hoots what goes on next door) it would suggest that there would no longer be sufficient funding to support smaller markets. The CRTC isn't willing to engage in that kind of guessing game, and isn't interested in forcing Canadian broadcasters to do that, either. So we have a forced funding regime that attempts to show as many Canadians as possible news and content that originates from their local area.

  20. What's funny is that, in the US, Local News is a profit centre to the point where even Jay Leno knows that if he has a negative effect on the 11 o'clock news he's at risk of finding himself out the door, contract or not.

    And here, we need taxpayer financial support to make it work.

    With all due respect, this says more about the collective incompetence of the private broadcast industry in this country that's inoculated from any real competition and become little more than leaches on US content producers as a result: to the point where they want to modify the TV Development Fund to allow for US writers so they can purchase Canadian shot US programming on the taxpayers dime as well. Someone needs to come up with a really compelling argument why, if our stations are going to be affiliates of US Networks in everything but name, we don't just let them die and let folks who actually know how to make TV take their place.

    Furthermore, I mean, really, they want us to pay more just to get the bloody news, and call that "local programming". You know who actually covers more local events around here in my experience? As in actually shows them on TV? Community Cable. Sure, you can argue with the quality, but when I was growing up if I wanted to watch the local OHL team because I couldn't make the game, that's where I had to go looking. High School Sports? Hello again. Games in their entirety instead of two second clips and: "Hey, Look, here's someone we picked out of a hat to be player of the week!" junk you get on the networks. If they really want local programming, the CRTC should just hand the licenses over to the CC Channels every time CTV threatens to set up a repeater and call it a day.

    • Ha! Come to think of it Quebec seems to be an exception here.

    • Local News is a Profit Centre for many US broadcasters, but that does not mean that those stations are profitable.

      As for Community Cable? Do you really want to rely on local coverage based on a model where almost everyone is working for free, and the bills are paid directly from your subscriber fees? That's the model of Journalistic Excellence you aspire to? The CableCos have demonstrated during this debate that they are willing and able to exercise complete editorial control over their "stations" in order to produce a completely biased message.

      And that's what you want to win out?

    • I'm with Dave. What passes for news on local versions of network TV is completely irrelevant to an informed populace and is the last reason we should do what broadcasters say. They should look at raising the bar journalistically and taking some risks to capture audience share. Instead they divvy up the audience by all producing the same formulaic crap that rarely is actually news to anyone:

      – All the channels have the same item on at the same time with the same shots all claiming to have an exclusive.
      – Less than half the content is actually news, most of it is weather, entertainment and sports and even then, nothing unique, the same movie reviews you would see in Anycity, Canada. And same sports except for more about the home team
      – Lots of airhead chatting between segments, and ads about what's "Coming up on …"
      – All with the same shaggy dog story or lovably laughable item at the end
      – Minor celebrity scandals in Los Angeles are apparently a reason for "local" TV.

      Why would this make money in any market?

  21. how did we ever get into this simulcast nonsense in the first place? why do we have canadian braodcasters that really only exist because they buy the simulcast right and have zero interest in broadcasting canadian content. No local news no canadian content..would we miss it? proabably not enough to pay for it

    • Simulcating comes down to licensing. When Canadian broadcasters purchase US/Foreign programming they own the rights to that content within their own borders. Cable companies are required by law to simulcast the Canadian signal over the US signal if the same program is airing at the same time in both countries. Broadcasters recoup their investment thru advertising dollars. Simulcasting not only protects their licensing rights to the content (the US signal airing, but ensures their advertisers get what they paid for – exposure within that program.

      • "Cable companies are required by law to simulcast the Canadian signal over the US signal if the same program is airing at the same time in both countries"

        Actually no, they have the right to do so but they are not required by law. TSN does not simulcast when they broadcast Sunday Night Football, program broadcast on NBC at the same time and when they broadcast a live NASCAR race that is broadcast on ABC/FOX. By the rule established by the CRTC, controlled by former television executives, they can simulcast if the quality of image and sound is equal to the quality from the US they can simulcast if they want to. The CRTC gave them the right to simulcast but they are not required to do it, although they do it all the time for advertising money and abuse it as there are many complaints registered by the CRTC every year on complaints of lower quality on Canadian channels and cutting the US feed when the program supposed to be airing is not, it happened two weeks ago during the ALCS game between the Yankees and the Angels, the feed was changed to HOUSE M.D. for five minutes right when an Angels batter hit a run during a close game. The feed was restored five minutes after with the inning over. I know it his not a case of life or death but it is a problem that occurs a lot. By the way, the Baseball was on Rogers Sportsnet and it was not the sportsnet feed on FOX.

  22. This really isn't that difficult.

    Years ago, we had a broadcast model supported entirely by advertising dollars.

    Then Cable came along and gave us "specialty" channels – channels we would pay for without advertising. Shortly after, they added advertising to supplement the fees collected.

    Now, the ad-only model is completely broken: there just isn't enough ad revenue in an ad-only model to survive in a cost structure dominated by a subscriber-fee-plus-advertising model, and the regulatory and other hurdles are currently blocking a free market solution.

    Complicating it are the outright lies being spouted by the cablecos: for example, they claim that the broadcasters are profitable and therefore do not need a new revenue stream. Then the same people claim that any new revenue stream to the broadcasters must be supported by additional costs passed to subscribers (while they themselves remain profitable). Both statements cannot be true simultaneously: if a lack of profit is required before passing on additional costs, then the cablecos, according to their stated position, should not pass along any additional costs.

    Are the cablecos really suddenly looking out for my best interests? Have they ever launched a public ad campaign to keep down the price they pay for TSN, or the Discovery Channel? No, I believe they realize that the days when they take hoards of cash from consumers for "basic cable" without paying for the product must end, and are fighting tooth and nail to preserve their cash cow.

    Until they're ready to allow actual competition for cable service, let the regulators fix the funding model and allow fee for carriage.

  23. Some of Coyne's points remind me of this buzzword that cropped up in a course I took on administrative law: "regulatory capture". It referred generally to the situation you get in certain regulated industries in which the players — the regulator and the regulated — spend so much time in each other's company that they end up creating their own little insular world that's quite detached from the rest of the citizenry. To me, that perfectly encapsulates the essence of CRTC-Broadcaster-Cable world in Canada. It's always driven me up the wall listening to cablecos and broadcasters do and say things that are entirely designed to stroke the CRTC's g-spot (e.g., the main tactic being wrapping themselves in the Canadian flag).

    • In any logical universe, there would be a simple solution to this. In that universe, the broadcasters could charge a fee for their signals if they wished — but cable companies would be under no obligation to carry them. Cable companies could pass on these fees to consumers — but consumers would not be forced to subscribe to channels they didn't want. Instead of forbidding broadcasters to charge for signals the cable companies are obliged to carry that consumers are then forced to pay for, nobody would be forced or forbidden to do anything.

  24. I don't have a TV and I have no idea what this piece is about…but I'm all for stopping unnecessary taxes, which, I assume, a "TV tax" must be.

  25. Unlike Andrew, I find myself disagreeing with both sides. We do agree they are both wrong.

    Both the cable companies and major broadcasters offer local television, and both sides have lobbied against competing local "television". Both these old-media distribution sectors have opposed consumer choice over the media that we consume. They have forced us to pay for programming that we don't want, and often don't offer in any reasonable way programming we do (No DRM-free Hulu-like service in Canada?).

    The CRTC needs radical reform for them to be able to manage convergence. The fact they operate in silos of telecom separated from broadcasting is an embarrassment. The more we head into a knowledge economy, the more these antiquated institutions are harming us.

    I did make a submission.. not that I believe it will affect anything at the CRTC, but I wanted to be on the record for making the suggestions.

    My submission to the CRTC Re: Local TV Matters
    http://www.digital-copyright.ca/node/5079

  26. My home town has already 'lost' it's local televisions. CBC cut it in the early 1990s. There is no 'local' CTV affiiliate. Ironically, the only local television comes in very small doses from Rogers Cable. It strikes me as odd that in the name of 'saving' local television, my neighbours would be forced to pay a tax for a service that they do not have, through an entity forced to charge it which is actually the only entity currently offering that thing at no additional cost.

  27. Haven't you guys heard of BitTorrents?

  28. I am one not to care as long as my bill doesn't Increase. But the more i see the argument playing out on my T.V. I see the Providers ( the cable and the satellite companies taking on the form of an American company ,FOX News approach to their fight ), Can you( the local channels) Promise that what you say is true?? that you want to talk aboutthe money that they charge Us will go to funding local TV , or will we back her in 5 yrs ?

  29. Both sides are wrong

  30. Linda
    Stop the tax on TV well if they put another tax on TV l will stop watching TV Because l fine now that there is not much on TV l watch now so if you put more Tax on People will fine other things to do Music is one or read a book. TV now is not the same as before.Only time l watch TV is for Soap so l can stop all together. so will other people.we are now Tied of Taxs That is all they do any more.Thank you.linda

  31. What people don't seen to understand is that local broadcasters don't want the general public "There viewers" to pay any tax.
    The Satellite and cable broadcasters are lying to use through there ads. Your local broadcaster want's the satellite and cable companies to pay for there program's that hey are taking for free.
    And pay the local channels directly the same as they do for foreign channels.
    They say well your local tv channel want's the CRTC to impose a tax on you.That is not true guys its the cable and satellite companies that want the CRTC to block the Local broadcasters from getting a Judgement for compansation
    What better way for the big business to get you the people to help them.
    They will just tell you some thing that bug's most of us that we are going to have pay more TAXES and that would get most of us up in arm's.
    So don't let them fool you into helping them Email your Satellite or cable provider and tell them to start paying for all there channels they are charging you for and stop stealing your $$ that you pay for your local broadcasting channel's.

    • Amusing that you have picked sides on this when both of those two sides are lying to you. This is also not a new issue, but one that has been ongoing for decades.

      The fact is that any mandatory increase in the cost of doing business to the cable companies will be passed on to consumers. This is the way all businesses work in the real economy. The broadcasters are simply lying to you in trying to pass the buck onto the cable companies for a decision the broadcasters are initiating and thus must be held responsible for. The cable companies are not already charging you for these stations, and while I will agree they steal your money in other ways that this isn't one of them.

      The only reasonable solution to this request by broadcasters is that for any broadcaster that wants the fee should also have to negotiate for position on the "dial" (IE: no longer guaranteed a low spot on the dial) as well as attract customers (E: no longer be mandatory as part of basic cable). I suspect if consumers were actually given a choice to pay for these "local" stations that the broadcasters would find out few people actually want them.

      Note: I will be speaking in front of the CRTC on this issue, based on the following submission:
      http://www.digital-copyright.ca/node/5079

      It should be clear that I'm not siding with the cable companies in this given I'm making a proposal to effectively clarify the cable companies as redundant and eventually non-existent.

  32. I'm gathering your not a researcher, and don't want to spend a moment to look up easily found facts.

    The URL I gave you is to a site that would make it quite clear I don't work for (or even morally support) much of the entertainment industry. It also links to my self-employed business at http://flora.ca . None of my customers are from the television networks or the cable/satellite companies, although being self employed I have had the opportunity (and requirement) to understand the basics of business. I know that if a cost for me goes up that I have to pass this on to customers one way or the other (increased costs to them or reduced service). That's just a fact of life, like gravity.

    You have been convinced that the cable companies have been collecting money from you that was for retransmitting over the air stations to you. I don't know why you think this as it is simply not true. They have not been collecting this money from you, so if they are asked to pay an increased fee then it will be passed on to consumers one way or the other (increased cost, reduced service). I'm pretty convinced that even if basic cable stays the same (highly unlikely) that the so-called time-shifted retransmissions will be long gone (IE: reduced service).

    The rest of your message is as well researched, so no need to comment. It isn't likely you would have read past my first sentence anyway ;-)

  33. You have been convinced that the cable companies have been collecting money from you that was for retransmitting over the air stations to you. I don't know why you think this as it is simply not true. They have not been collecting this money from you, so if they are asked to pay an increased fee then it will be passed on to consumers one way or the other (increased cost, reduced service). I'm pretty convinced that even if basic cable stays the same (highly unlikely) that the so-called time-shifted retransmissions will be long gone (IE: reduced service).
    ————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-
    Researcher ??? Maybe
    You are Double talking and contradicting yourself again Russell.
    You just said it yourself if the Local broadcasters win there claim with Cable and Satellite services then they are just going to pass it on.
    Why Russell they are collecting it from us already.
    It is the same as you in your business if the cost to you goes up and you pass it on to your customer base and if they dont like it you can loose them as customers.
    But if you double charge them the increase and they learn of it that will cost you your business.Am i right yes i am.
    But the difference is between you and these thieves is they have the consent from our Government leaders to do it and will get away with it FOR NOW.
    You can do all the research you want russell but you only see what you want i do mine and sift through the crap to find the truth it would surprise you how much of this stuff you find on cable and satellite companies are lie's to hide what they are realy doing.
    There research team must be busy sending out crap to bury this stuff deep to hide it.

  34. lets not forget ctv owns bell and shaw owns star choice……