Cable Giants Subvert Canadians’ Desire for Accountability Re: Community Channels


Cable Giants Subvert Canadians' Desire for Accountability Re: Community Channels

Ottawa (May 6, 2010) Instead of explaining to Canadians why they have closed community TV channels across the country and converted these public-service channels into branded business divisions, Canada's largest BDUs are subverting Canadians' desire for accountability, said the Canadian Association of Community Television Users and Stations (CACTUS).

In a recent inteview with The Wire Report, Colette Watson, vice-president of "Rogers TV" (formerly, Rogers' community channels), claimed the CRTC has received "no empirical data that there is a problem" and ignored the CACTUS proposal for a not-for-profit agency that would track the use of every dollar paid by Canadians for original community programming and training.

"Considering that Rogers' 2009 annual report does not even mention the 'community TV' channels on which it says it spends $35 million a year, it's frankly astonishing that Rogers would criticize the Community-Access Media Fund proposal, which is based on published annual audits and more detailed reporting than has ever been conducted by cable companies for community channels," said Catherine Edwards, spokesperson for CACTUS. "Under our business model, every community and every subscriber would learn for the first time exactly where money earmarked by the CRTC for local expression actually goes, and how much original content and skills training that money generates."

"Just a few years ago, cable companies demanded and obtained a radical restructuring of the Canadian Television Fund with claims that its voluminous reports detailing hours, genres and costs of programs produced were inadequate" pointed out Edwards. "But when Canadians and the CRTC hold cable companies to the same standards, these
corporate giants either will not or cannot show how they spend each community's local programming budget."

"We're long overdue for a new model," said Edwards. "The track record of cable companies attempting to run 'community channels' on behalf of communities is one of excluding residents from programming decisions, studio closures, and using money earmarked for local expression to promote their own businesses. Canadians both want and deserve the not-for-profit Fund we have proposed because it is 100% accountable, 100% transparent, and 100% focussed on community service--not on making profits for the private sector. If they want to do that, they should apply for a separate license."

The CRTC has invited those who filed comments on community TV to make additional comments before May 17, 2010. Details are available on the CRTC's website:

Contact: Catherine Edwards, (819) 772-2862

OpenMedia works to keep the Internet open, affordable, and surveillance-free. We create community-driven campaigns to engage, educate, and empower people to safeguard the Internet. Take action now

View all campaigns
Take action now! Sign up to be in the loop Donate to support our work