Angry Robot

What the Latest CRTC Decisions Mean

Excellent post here at The Legion of Decency with analysis of and commentary on the latest round of CRTC rulings. The key points:

1. Private Broadcasters have the right to charge fees for formerly free-to-air broadcasts on cable and satellite.

2. Private broadcasters have the right to Blackout signals for which they own Canadian rights.

3. “Programs of National Interest” replaces Priority programming and is redefined to comprise only drama and comedy, feature documentaries and Award shows.

4. 30% of network gross income must be spent on Canadian programming (5% on Programs of National Interest).

5. Total Canadian Content on Canadian networks reduced from 60% to 55%.

7. Reduced restrictions on where a network’s Canadian Production spend is exhibited. With as much as 25% movable anywhere within the conglomerate holdings.

8. CMF investment no longer counted as part of broadcaster programming spend.

The rest gets a bit inside baseball unless you’re in the industry or follow it closely, but there’s plenty good there too. Point number two is the one that may cause waves, as Dennis points out, since it favours the broadcasters but requires action by the cable companies:

Canada’s top two cablers aren’t going to make it that easy. They’re set to announce by end of business that they’re pulling all U.S. network feeds from the cable packages in sixty days. This will predictably cause outrage and hate from customers, which the companies will blame entirely on the networks…

This is happening at a time when it is arguably easier for me to bootleg TV shows than watch them in the sanctioned ways. It is laughable. Ha! Well, except for the enormous wasted opportunities and the dire condition of our national culture industry. That is more like cryable. Cry!

The problem with the Canadian TV industry in a nutshell is that all these guys, broadcast networks and cable & satellite companies alike, make their money showing American TV to Canadians. That’s not exactly a valuable service these days. Years ago, the US channels that were reliant on non-exclusive content like movies or syndicated shows realized they had to have some actual exclusive shows to attract viewers and to gain leverage in the New World of post-internet entertainment, where content is suddenly available through a million different avenues. That’s why we got The Sopranos (HBO), Mad Men (AMC), Breaking Bad, etc. etc. The Canadian industry could have learned this lesson long ago and actually started investing in Canadian shows. It would have hurt them financially for a few years, but eventually paid off as they could sell the shows to the US and elsewhere (did you know The Listener is a big hit in Italy?). But no, they do the bare minimum required by their pal CRTC and then defend their relic of a business model by imposing false scarcity in an age of information abundance.