Good luck to them all!!

Broadcast regulator tunes out private TV networks appeal
OTTAWA – The federal broadcast regulator is hanging tough against an aggressive public relations campaign mounted by CTV, saying Canada’s networks will have to prove their commitment to local TV in exchange for financial relief.
CTV launched a “save local TV” campaign this month, complete with open houses at their stations, a petition and a rally on Parliament Hill.
Other networks are also lobbying the government behind the scenes at the highest levels.
The networks are urging the Conservative government to allow them to charge cable and satellite companies for their signals – called fee for carriage – or else see more local stations disappear. The cable industry says that will result in higher monthly bills for customers.
Konrad Von Finckenstein, chairman of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), rejected the networks arguments Monday during an appearance before the Commons Heritage committee.
“Conventional broadcasters need to refocus on the core elements of their service – local news, local programming and programs of national interest,” Von Finckenstein said.
“Rather than perceiving it as a cost of doing business, they need to see it as the central element of their survival and expend meaningful resources and energy on it.”
Von Finckenstein did not dismiss the idea of fee for carriage, but rather the term, saying the industry should analyze instead the “value of a signal” depending on a variety of market factors.
He kicked the ball back into the broadcasters’ court, pointing out they already manage to agree on the value of specialty channels.
“You are the players in the market. You negotiate. If you can’t negotiate I’ll arbitrate it for you if I have to,” Von Finckenstein said in his characteristically blunt style.
An internal memo circulated by the Prime Minister’s Office on Friday reminded Tory MPs that fee for carriage would wind up costing consumers, and that it was up to the CRTC to decide on the issue.
Von Finckenstein outlined two other possible revenue streams for broadcasters, including a local programming fund from which all networks could draw.
The second would be mechanisms for protecting Canadian broadcasters from unfair competition from American signals that carry the same programs. There would also be a mechanism for charging cable and satellite companies for transmitting a network’s local TV signal into another Canadian market – called timeshifting.
But any of this help would be contingent on a “meaningful commitment” to local news, local programming and programs of national interest.
“That means we’re going to hold your feet to the fire. You’re not going get that stream of income unless you deliver.”
Conservative, Liberal and NDP MPs on the committee all suggested the CRTC might need more teeth to force broadcasters to live up to their obligations.
“What were the consequences that we would look toward if you were to use your teeth to make sure you keep these people in lines?” asked Conservative MP Shelly Glover.
Von Finckenstein said the regulator’s tools are “all or nothing,” with revocation of a license after a court proceeding being the main hammer. He would also like the ability to fine violators.
The commission would also like broadcasters to submit group applications for TV licenses, which include their pay, speciality and conventional operations. This way, the regulator would get to see the whole picture of their viewership, their Canadian content and their financial situation.
Critics of the private networks say they’re being disingenuous when they threaten to close local stations while at the same time reaping profits from other channels.
NDP MP Charlie Angus said the committee’s main objective was to protect local TV, while making sure any new division of the revenue pie “doesn’t end up with the broadcasters continuing to run their local stations into the ground and taking the money and spending it elsewhere…”
The battle between the cable companies and the broadcasters over the fee-for-carriage issue has heated up since the global financial crisis hit TV advertising hard.
Cable and satellite companies lodged a complaint with the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council on Friday, saying CTV News’ coverage of their corporation’s “Save Local TV” campaign has been biased.
Von Finckenstein called the larger dispute “background noise.”
“In the end, they need each other.”