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Local TV Stations will fail without CRTC action

Jan 25, 2016

Gatineau, QC – Local TV stations in Canada will fail without an injection of new money to support their operation, according to FRIENDS of Canadian Broadcasting.

FRIENDS issued this warning as the CRTC begins a 10-day hearing looking into local TV in Canada and based on an economic forecast from broadcast consultants Nordicity and Peter Miller.

Near Term Prospects for Local TV in Canada predicts that on the order of half of local stations in small and medium sized markets could fade to black by 2020 in the absence of action by the CRTC.  These are markets where there is typically no local TV alternative.

More than 900 journalists and others who work to put news and other programs on the air at local stations in small and medium-sized markets will lose their jobs. Job losses balloon to almost 3500 when large market private and CBC stations are included.

The study found there is simply not enough money currently available in the Canadian TV system to ensure a healthy future for local TV in Canada while at the same time supporting other worthy goals such as creating Canadian TV programs.

The CRTC is contemplating creating a special fund to support local TV but a document to guide discussion at the hearing suggests this could be done by reallocating existing money in the system.

“The CRTC needs to wake up to the fact that local TV in Canada is in crisis and stations will fail unless urgent and significant action is taken coming out of this hearing.  What has been outlined in their discussion document guarantees failures,” FRIENDS’ spokesperson Ian Morrison says.

Local TV, especially news, is extremely popular.  A recent Nanos poll found:

  • Nine in ten (92%) of those surveyed either agree (78%) or somewhat agree (14%) that local TV news is valuable to them.
  • Nine in ten respondents either agree (73%) or somewhat agree (17%) that their federal member of parliament should work to keep local broadcasting strong in their community.

“Canadians like local TV and want Ottawa to safeguard it.  All politics is local and MPs will be asked hard questions by their constituents if their local station fades to black,” Morrison says.

Local TV has been hurt by new technology and audience behaviour changes, as well as removal of regulatory protections and public subsidies to this valued and particularly vulnerable sector.

FRIENDS of Canadian Broadcasting is an independent watchdog for Canadian programming and is not affiliated with any broadcaster or political party.

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For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592 • jim@friends.ca