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CRTC seeking community feedback
April 15 deadline to comment on non-compliance of your local cable provider
Ottawa (March 22, 2016) Canadians have until April 15th to share their experiences as
viewers and producers at cable community TV channels.
The vast majority of cable community TV channels do not meet the minimum criteria for
operating a community TV channel under CRTC policy, according to Deepak Sahasrabudhe
of Newwest.tv in BC, and a member of the Canadian Association of Community Television
Users and Stations (CACTUS).
CACTUS and various community groups filed complaints of non-compliance with the CRTC's
community TV policy against 75 cable community channels operated by Shaw, Rogers,
Cogeco, Eastlink, and Videotron.
Catherine Edwards, spokesperson for CACTUS, said, “Deepak took it upon himself to
examine the online programming schedules of cable license areas in Canada: all those that
currently hold cable licenses from the CRTC, as well as many smaller systems that are
exempt from licensing, but which are still expected to offer community TV services. He
wanted to find out whether they air at least 60% local content and at least 50% 'access'
content―created by ordinary community members, not cable company staff.”
Mr. Sahasrabudhe elaborated, “I discovered that New Westminster cable TV subscribers pay
about $400,000 per year for community television services, yet Shaw airs almost nothing
from New Westminster. Everything we see is piped out from downtown Vancouver. I
wanted to find out whether the same situation is happening across Canada. Are subscribers
getting the services they pay for? In Montreal, citizens have launched a class-action suit
against Videotron for a failure to provide them with the community TV services they pay
The CRTC recently held hearings to review its community TV policy and noted that
“Consolidation within the distribution sector has led BDUs [broadcast distribution
undertakings such as cable and satellite companies] to centralize their operations, including
community channel production and administration, to realize cost efficiencies.”
Edwards commented, “It hasn't made sense for a long time for cable companies to offer
community TV services. It's broken. It's a long time since they've had a presence in small
communities. Communities need to take over.” At issue at the recent hearings was the
fate of more than $150 million that is collected from cable subscribers from coast to coast
every year to ensure that they have access to training and a platform for free speech in the
broadcasting system. According to Mr. Sahasrabudhe's data (available online at
www.comtv.org), most of the money has been used to support programs made by cable
company staff, which have very low viewership according to Numeris: Only 1.5% of
Canadians watch cable community channels in any given week, compared to more than
46% that watch genuine community-owned and -operated channels.
Community ownership of radio stations has also been a success story in Canada.
The complaints outstanding against Shaw, Rogers, Eastlink, Cogeco and Videotron ask the
CRTC to redirect the money spent on community TV to communities themselves to manage.
CACTUS believes the money could then be put to better use. Communities could operate
multimedia training and production centres, that would teach and distribute traditional
media such as TV and radio, but also new media including web design and gaming.
Edwards elaborated “... whatever the community needs to know to function. It's a digital
economy. You won't even be able to fill out your tax return soon if you don't have digital
media skills. Ploughing all this money into a cable-only platform that fewer and fewer
Canadians subscribe to makes no sense”.
Canadians can find out whether a complaint has been filed against the cable access channel
to contribute their experiences of their local cable-access channel to the CRTC's review of
these complaints are encouraged to call CACTUS at (604) 521-0200 or to e-mail
About the poster
(Darryl Sean Richardson)
East York, Toronto, Ontario
Member since November 2011