More than 2,560 Canadians support Community-Controlled Media
Edwards noted that for the last fifteen years cable operators have interconnected their cable systems, often closing community channels to reduce costs and repurposing programming from town to town. Research by CACTUS found that in some provinces, cable operators are running radio on their community TV stations. “Not even community radio,” Edwards pointed out, “They are playing commercial radio.”
“What’s really puzzling,” Edwards said, “is that the CRTC says that cable subscribers paid over $100 million in 2009 to support programs produced by community volunteers, for their local communities. But more than two-thirds of community channel programming is produced by cable companies themselves.” Data posted by the CRTC last week show that of the 23,010 hours of hours of content aired weekly on community channels, 9,386 came from cable companies, and 7,347 were alphanumeric public service messages. Less than a third (6,493 hours or 28% of the total) is claimed to have been produced by communities themselves. "We think the 28% is much higher than the true figure. We know that cable companies often report that communities have 'access' if they are simply interviewed as subjects of a program."
Under the CACTUS model, almost every community in Canada could establish their own multi-media centres – without imposing any new costs on subscribers. The CACTUS proposal also provides for education, training, and annual reports on how subscribers’ money is being used. “Our plan will reduce cable companies’ administrative costs, will give the CRTC the data it needs to see how this sector is working, and will give Canadians meaningful opportunities to participate in the world’s new multimedia environment,” said Edwards. “We’re looking forward to the CRTC’s April 26 hearing to answer questions about our plan to put communities back in charge of community TV."
CACTUS was formed in 2007 to speak on behalf of the hundreds of associations, groups and individuals who want to strengthen and improve Canada’s community TV sector.