CRTC gets it right in CTVgm/CHUM decision



    TORONTO, June 8 /CNW Telbec/ - Canada's broadcast regulator - the CRTC -
has protected editorial diversity in local news and more choices for Canadian
content during prime time with its decision today to carve out five City TV
stations from the assets acquired by CTVglobemedia from CHUM, according to the
broadcast watchdog group Friends of Canadian Broadcasting.
    "Today's decision is good for viewers, advertisers and competition and
diversity in the Canadian broadcasting system," said Friends spokesperson Ian
Morrison.
    CTV had asked the Commission to allow it to acquire CHUM's radio
stations, specialty TV channels and the CHUM City TV stations in Toronto,
Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. As the CRTC has noted, acquisition
of the City TV stations would have broken the Commission's Common Ownership
policy, which limits any broadcaster to one channel in each city.
    Owing to CTVgm's current domination of English conventional TV, Friends
asked the CRTC to approve the purchase of CHUM only on condition that CTVgm
sell the City TV properties while retaining CHUM's "A" Channels in six smaller
markets.
    "Had the Commission approved this transaction as proposed there is good
reason to expect that it would have created a duopoly in private conventional
English TV: a duopoly in which CTV, would have enjoyed a permanent structural
advantage over the other, CanWest Global. Such an outcome would be a negative
development for the broadcasting system: for markets, competition and
viewers," Morrison said.
    Friends was also concerned that local news would suffer were the CRTC to
approve the purchase as proposed and that CHUM's smaller "A" Channels would
struggle without the financial protection and access to competitive
programming as part of CTV.
    "In each of the five big markets, City and CTV are currently important
players in local television news. The editorial safeguards proposed by CTVgm
were inadequate. While they would create a semblance of editorial diversity,
true editorial diversity can only be achieved by separate ownership," Morrison
said.
    "Today's CRTC decision ensures that three private-sector national
television networks, rather than two, will operate in English-speaking
Canada," said Morrison. He added: "Had the CRTC allowed CTV to gobble up
CHUM's City stations today, nothing could have prevented TVA from swallowing
Quatre Saisons, thereby creating a monopoly in private TV in French-speaking
Canada".
    Morrison noted that today's decision respects CRTC's Common Ownership
policy to restrict broadcasters to one station per market, and it creates a
competitive parity between CTVgm and CanWest while still allowing CTV a
dominant position in the youth demographic while reaping 39% of Canadian
specialty revenues.
    "Commensurate with these benefits, CTVgm should assume the obligation to
ensure that the A-Channels continue to meet their local programming and other
obligations in the smaller local markets they serve," Morrison said.

    Friends is a national media watchdog group that promotes more and better
Canadian programs on radio and TV and is supported by 100,000 Canadians.
Friends is not affiliated with any broadcaster.




For further information:

For further information: Jim Thompson, (613) 447-9592

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Friends of Canadian Broadcasting

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