Let The Nickel And Diming Continue!

The CRTC made a bunch of television related decisions today,here’s a summary of what went down.One of them in particular caught my eye.

Value of local television programming

As part of its framework, the Commission has set out a market-based solution to allow private local television stations to negotiate with cable and satellite companies. Each television station would have the option of entering into negotiations to establish a fair value for the distribution of their programs.

“The current dispute between conventional broadcasters and distributors threatens the overall integrity of the broadcasting system,” said Mr. von Finckenstein. “Broadcasters and distributors have a symbiotic relationship. The time has come for them to put their differences aside and work together to ensure the continuation of conventional television, which Canadians clearly value.”

During its proceeding, the CRTC received conflicting legal opinions as to whether it has the authority to implement a negotiation regime. Given that this issue is vital to the future of conventional television, the Commission has initiated a reference to the Federal Court of Appeal seeking clarification on its jurisdiction under the Broadcasting Act. The CRTC has asked the Court to consider its request on an expedited basis.

You may have noticed that nowhere in there is there any mention of not allowing cable and satellite companies to pass the cost of this new system through to the consumer. So just like Ithought,pending court approval, we’re about to get fucked by the broadcasting industry with help from the government yet again. Unless there’s something in the works to chase down anybody with a TV tower or a coat hanger and shake the change out of their pockets, pretty much what all of this amounts to is punishment for subscribing to cable. Just a complete and utter hose job no matter how you look at it.

And what makes it even worse is that none of this is going to fix what’s wrong with local TV, it’s only going to let people who haven’t got a clue how to adapt to a changing world put off the inevitable. Or to put it another way, local TV isn’t going to improve, it’s just that the stations in your area will suck but will have more money to not spend on actual local programming for a while…at least until this round of extortion doesn’t work and they have to figure out who’s fault their failures become now that TV providers (don’t even get me started on how the networks and providers are essentially the same people) didn’t turn out to be the answer. Like I’vesaid before,none of this crying about local TV means jack shit until we make it a rule that if you claim to be in financial trouble, you can’t go spending billions of dollars to import shows that anybody with cable can already get on 22 different stations. We don’t need CTV to show us American Idol and CSI, we have Fox and CBS for that. We’re already paying for that stuff, so dinging us again and disguising it as saving community stations is blatant double dipping, not to mention dishonesty. What we do need CTV for is to keep us connected with where we live. I know that’s what the news is for, but there’s so much more that can be done beyond that, and that’s where the money needs to go. Could you imagine what would happen if every network spent even half of the money they spend on foreign programming on developing good home grown shows? the possibilities are endless!

The only way a single cent should come out of my pocket or your pocket is if we’re sure it’s going to go towards something of value to our areas and not into feeding a huge machine that cares so little about communities that it’s stripped away the very identities of the stations that are supposedly so important. Around here we don’t get our local news from CKCO or TV London anymore, we get it from CTVSWO and A Channel. What kind of message does that send?

I still wouldn’t like it, but I think I might have less of a problem with what’s going on if it was fair which it can’t be unless it applies to everybody and not just those using cable, and also would change something for the better, which as long as media ownership rules are what they are and the CRTC is in the pocket of those ownership groups and unwilling to change broadcast standards it won’t.

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