Source : Canoe.ca
BANFF, Alta. (CP) - Federal Heritage Minister Bev Oda says Canadian broadcasting systems need to be modernized and asked the CRTC on Sunday to determine what impact rapidly changing technology will have on the industry's future.
"Other nations began to build the policy network for the digital world decades ago - unfortunately, Canada did not," Oda said as she opened the Banff Television Festival, which attracts industry figures from around the world.
Oda said it's becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish between the formally separate industries of television, radio and the Internet. Better understanding of changing audience habits is vital, she said.
"Canadians, especially young Canadians, are increasingly moving away from traditional media sources and exploring options like iPods and the Sling box," said Oda.
Sling box is a technology which connects a laptop to a television and allows the viewer to access shows from anywhere in the world.
Oda said while the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper is committed to retaining the CBC, she stressed that it will have to change.
"The public broadcaster does not exist in isolation," said the minister, adding that any decisions on the CBC's future will also impact private broadcasters, independent producers and creators.
CBC president Robert Rabinovitch sees the CRTC study as the first step toward a full review of the public broadcaster and its role.
"I'm not disappointed, it's a logical way of approaching the subject," he said. "Let's get a better understanding of the technology and where we're going, then we can do a review of our systems within it."
Rabinovitch expects to hear formally Monday that the CRTC is delaying the CBC's renewal licence for a year while the study is done and the government digests that information.
He dismissed suggestions that the CBC needs to modernize, noting the public broadcaster is up to 27 different platforms.
"We are significant leaders in the Internet," he said, adding that www.cbc.ca is a decade old.
Oda wants the Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission to deliver its findings by Dec. 14. Those insights will help the government set its broadcast policy for the 21st century, the minister said.
Oda's comments come less than a week after an independent policy group said CBC-TV should focus on news, arts and culture, while running less sports and fewer commercials.
The Public Policy Forum study said the CBC is caught between penny-pinching governments and a wide mandate. That forces the public broadcaster to overdo hockey coverage in pursuit of lucrative sponsorship revenue.
"It is time the government and Parliament - and it is their job, not the CBC's - faced up to this mismatch of mandate and resources," said the report, released June 5 in Ottawa.
Oda's request will mark the ninth time Ottawa has asked the CRTC to assess the industry's future since 1991. In 1994, the commission looked at what impact the Internet would have on Canadian broadcasters.
© Canoe Network