Asia Media Summit
Remarks by Ian Morrison - Spokesperson, Friends of Canadian Broadcasting
Thanks for the opportunity to participate in this
Summit! I represent Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, a viewers' and listeners'
watchdog group supported by 100,000 Canadians. You can learn more about our
work by visiting www.friends.ca.
I come from a country where big cable and
satellite television distributors are extinguishing Canada's former leadership
in community broadcasting. That's too bad because "the factor that most
distinguishes the content of community programming from conventional television
services is the ability of community programming to turn the passive viewer of
television into an active participant. From this participation flows
programming of a nature that is as varied as the imagination and skills of the
participants.... Providing and encouraging citizen access remains one of the most
important roles"  of community
What does "on-air diversity" entail? It has
at least three components: voices, elements and programming. Diversity of voices
refers to an editorial voice, particularly in information programming.
Diversity of elements includes at least three elements: public, private
and community broadcasters. It is not just the number of owners that is
important but the presence of different types of broadcasting services, each
with its own distinct voice. Diversity of programming includes a balance
between domestic and foreign, between different genres and formats, between a
variety of creators and between local, regional and national content. 
In my country, big cable and satellite
distributors have been allowed to collect and keep more than $120 million in
subscribers' money so that they can spend it on so-called community channels
that they in fact control - and use to promote their interests.
Friends supports a group called CACTUS (the
Canadian Association of Community Television Users and Stations) which has
"proposed that this money be directed into a new fund that would enable more
than two hundred Canadian communities to run 21st century multimedia
training and distribution centres." According to Cathy Edwards of CACTUS:
"Apart from generating thousands of hours of new Canadian hyper-local content,
the money earmarked for community expression would be administered by
accountable local bodies. At no new cost to Canadians, they would receive
training and access the newest digital tools and technologies". 
We hope our regulator listens.
Friends of Canadian Broadcasting
200/238 - 131 Bloor Street West
Toronto, ON M5S
 Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)
public notice 1991-59 (see www.crtc.gc.ca).
 ibid. CRTC public notice 2008-4.