Community Media Education Society


Letter to the CRTC  Jan30/01

 Ladies and Gentlemen:

Re: Public Notice CRTC 2000 -164

1. If the big problem is ignored it doesn't matter how much care you take over the details. Television without content will be insignificant no matter how slick it is.

2. Cable companies should be putting up the money for real community television, participatory public television, television that guarantees public access. We can see that they don't want to make it themselves and they shouldn't have to. The rest of the world expects public access to be managed by public bodies and so should Canada.

3. As for competing broadcast distribution undertakings, we've had a fair system of community TV support based on gross market share. It's fair for satellite companies, it's fair for multipoint and it's fair for cable systems.

4. What's not fair is the delay. If we don't get the money into the hands of community producers, a generation will pass through young adulthood thinking that the Internet is mass distribution, and that the television industry is based on how well you can pretend to be part of the United States.

5. We know the Broadcast Act and we think it's about time it was respected. Of course we favour less regulation for small cable licensees, at least until a Class 1 system decides to buy them, but 90% of subscribers are already owned by one of the (at the moment) big four systems. And the number of big systems is likely to shrink before it gets larger.

6. Perhaps the one thing we might hope to see from this hearing is a detailed accounting of how the 5% of gross annual revenues is spent on Canadian programming: the share that goes to the community channel, and the other Canadian shows that are supported.

7. If we want television to contribute to our culture, instead of being simply a branch plant industry for a foreign culture, we have to have an entry point where new people with new ideas find easy access. That's not the colleges and universities. They send their students to community TV to get practical experience. It's not the CBC. Top producers struggle to get a show onto the CBC. In Canada the community channel is the first place we find participation and public access. It's good and we should get it back.



Richard Ward

Executive Director, C.M.E.S.
Community Media Education Society


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