The Canadian Association of Community Television Users and Stations (CACTUS) is applauding BCE being asked by the CRTC to carry seven indie community TV channels by 2012 to secure outright control of CTVglobemedia.
“The CRTC’s ruling on Bell carriage will make a big difference. Once they’re on satellite, residents of other remote communities nearby will be able to enjoy a channel that originates in their own region for the first time,” CACTUS said Friday in a statement.
The CRTC told BCE to carry the local channels as part of its satellite TV offerings after the upgrade of customer TV set-top boxes from MPEG-2 to MPEG-4, which should be completed by September 2012.
The CRTC held public hearings a year ago on cable-operated community channels, and subsequently released a new community TV policy that encourages more local community members to participate in creating at least half of a community TV channel’s on-air programming.
Critics told the CRTC at the time time that industry consolidation in the cable sector had produced community TV channels that were more part of regional, professionally-driven networks, rather than grassroots over-the-air channels.
CACTUS told the regulator during the April 2010 hearings that cable operators positioned their community TV offerings as competition to public and private broadcasters, and not as outlets for volunteer technicians and on-air talent looking to get into TV on the ground floor.
In its latest statement Friday, Cactus said the seven indie channels are truly grass-roots channels that will flourish with carriage by Bell TV.
“This is the first decision that the CRTC has made since 2002 to encourage the distribution of truly community-based television programming services,” CACTUS said.