WonkReport

Why should I care about the CRTC?

I have been asked to write about regulatory activity for the TV, eh? audience. You might ask yourself – “why should I care about regulations – I am a fan/creator/broadcaster/distributor and I just want to know about Canadian TV”?

Without government policies, in their infinite and constantly evolving complexity, there would be no Canadian media. None. In particular, the Broadcasting Act and its stewards the CRTC ensure that we have a Canadian-owned broadcasting system and that each element of the system (primarily broadcasters and cable and satellite companies) contributes to the creation and presentation of Canadian programming.

Without these rules and regulations we would all be watching Masterchef and Under the Dome and other US shows on a US network. Well, we are anyway … but we have the choice to watch Canadian programming that reflects our world, our stories and how we see ourselves.

Nurtured, our talent pool has created terrific programming that has been extremely popular with audiences – Amazing Race Canada was the top show in Canada last week and during this summer season Rookie Blue and The Listener are both averaging over a million viewers each episode.

We also have the choice to watch high quality documentaries, children’s programming and Canadian feature films because of the regulatory support of the Broadcasting Act and policies and funding through Heritage Canada.

It is, however, an imperfect system. The CRTC is always trying to tweak the balance between consumers, creators and citizens and between broadcasters, cable companies and producers. The media world is constantly evolving with new technologies, new business models, new consumption patterns and new players. The system is constantly in tension and sometimes, often, you — the lover or creator of Canadian television — is forgotten.

My job here will be to translate regulatory activity (mostly CRTC but also changes in funding at Canada Media Fund or the independent funds or changes in policies at Canadian Heritage) and explain the impact on Canadian programming. Will there be more or less, what kind, should I be upset or excited about it?

Acronyms will unfortunately creep in. I have a decoder on my personal blog.

Coming up:  The big regulatory news is the TalkTV hearing which will take place September 8 – 19th, 2014. We could expect a decision on that hearing possibly before the end of the calendar year and then the following year we will likely have a number of follow up hearings on specific issues.

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Kelly Lynne Ashton

Kelly Lynne has over twenty years of experience on the business side of Canadian film, television and digital media as an entertainment lawyer.She took a slight departure to produce children’s digital media. When it was time for something new, moved back to business affairs but now in film, television and digital media. More recently she discovered that all along her true calling was as a Canadian media policy wonk. Now she assists clients with research projects, policy and strategy development, government and government agency submissions and social media consulting.
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4 thoughts on “Why should I care about the CRTC?”

  1. The timing of pick and pay is one of the topics for the hearing. There are varying opinions on the time needed to implement it, if the decision is to switch to pick and pay. It could be as early as mid 2015 but given that the decision may not be till late 2014 or early 2015, I think 2016 is more likely.

  2. Why do we even have access to the American networks? I’ve always wondered that.

    I really hope for pick and play. I have about 400 channels at home but other than the basic channels, the only channels I personally watch are Space (for Orphan Black), Showcase (for Outlander), CW (for various shows), ABC Spark (for various shows), History (for Vikings), Much (for Teen Wolf), MTV (for Finding Carter), Bravo (for Suits) and A&E (for Longmire). That’s 9 channels. Now the kids like YTV, Treehouse, Disney Junior and Juice Box abd the husband likes Discovery, HGTV, Wild TV, History so all together that would be about 16 specialty channels we actually watch. Yet we pay for almost all the specialty channels cause theres about 15 bundles and there is at least one channel we like in each bundle. Because we spend so much on satellite I can’t justify getting the Superchannel package which would be an extra $20.

    1. Pick and pay may not end up being the solution that you hope for. Bundling allows satellite and cable companies to spread the cost of services across a bundle, mixing higher and lower priced services. It is likely that individual services will cost a lot more on their own. You could end up paying more for your 16 services than the big bundle you have now. We’ll have to wait and see.

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