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OTTAWA, June 15, 2016 – The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) expressed disappointment in the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC) new policy framework for local and community television issued today.
In Broadcasting Regulatory Policy 2016-224, the CRTC will ensure that local over-the-air stations will continue to air local news and local programming. However, community channels will be primarily operated by cable and IPTV providers with no funding set aside for independent community stations. Television providers will also be permitted to redirect funding from community channels to their private local stations.
“While the CRTC reinforced the importance of local news and local programming in Canada, they took funding for that programming from community TV,” said John Lawford, Executive Director and General Counsel to PIAC. “The CRTC has robbed the poor community channels to feed the rich, large, national private broadcasters – who should have paid to provide local news themselves.”
At a public hearing in January, PIAC and the Council of Senior Citizens’ Organizations of B.C. advocated for the importance of local news and independent community television. The groups supported earmarking a portion of community TV funding for independent community stations and local community media centres.
“The Commission had an opportunity to create space and growth for communities – especially marginalized communities – who wanted to operate stations which would reflect their needs and values,” said Alysia Lau, Legal Counsel at PIAC. “Instead, this decision has made it harder for any independent community group to find its footing in a system dominated by the television providers. We’re going to see less ‘community’ in community TV.”
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