CRTC ducks core issues of Canadian television - CEP

OTTAWA, March 22 /CNW Telbec/ - The CRTC has taken a pass on rescuing Canadian local television and it will now be up to Parliament to flex its muscle in the interests of Canadian culture and consumers, says Canada's largest media union, the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP).

"Referring jurisdictional issues to a federal court while cable companies rake in billions of profits from Canadian consumers is simply buying time - but for what? Completion of Shaw's purchase of Canwest? The introduction of higher foreign ownership levels in broadcasting?" said Peter Murdoch, Vice-President, Media, CEP.

Murdoch says the negotiation regime proposed by the CRTC places far too much power in the hands of the companies that distribute television. The five largest television distributors have a virtual monopoly, controlling TV stations' access to 91% of cable and satellite subscribers. The CRTC's negotiated regime shifts all responsibility for setting Canadian broadcasting priorities to private TV and cable companies. But Parliament gave this responsibility to the CRTC - not the private marketplace. How will these new deals be regulated, be transparent and serve the public interest?

Even more astounding, the CRTC's new policy reduces over-the-air TV stations' Canadian content levels from 60% per year, to 55% across the board - or a loss of approximately 31,000 hours per year of Canadian programming. Contrary to its past practices, the CRTC has failed to provide any analysis of the impact of its new policy. So what evidence persuaded the CRTC that the only way to save private broadcasters, is to let them carry even more foreign programming?

"Apparently the pride of distinctive Canadian achievement has been left melting on the Slopes of Whistler. When is this government and the agencies who report to it, going to place culture on the podium?"

SOURCE Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada

For further information: For further information: Peter Murdoch, (905) 516-5720

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