Community Media Education Society




Re: Public Notice CRTC 2001 -- 2, Item 1a.


1) I'm writing on behalf of C.M.E.S. to comment on the takeover by Quebecor of Videotron (Application 2000 - 2310 -2). We propose attaching a condition to the transaction.

2) Our particular concern is that the independent community channel groups in the areas licensed to Videotron should regain their funding. Canada's community channel has been a widely appreciated success. No other component of our communications system, as defined in the Broadcasting Act, demonstrates such broad participation and involvement.

3) The experiment these past two years to remove the cable companies' obligation to fund community television, hoping that companies would do so voluntarily in the interests of good public relations, seems to have been a utopian dream.

4) Cable companies have to do what's best for their shareholders, notwhat's best for people in the communities where they're licensed. Those interests don't always coincide. It would be wrong for corporate management to put the public interest first and that's why cable companies shouldn't operate the community channel. Here in B.C. we appreciate that Quebec has been a good example to the rest of Canada, at least until recently.

5) C.M.E.S. wants a participatory, independent community channel with good public access. We don't know what Quebecor will do in that regard but, judging by our correspondence with Andre Desrochers at CTGC TV and Gerald Gauthier at the Federation des televisions communautaires autonomes du Quebec, and by the CRTC's own account of Quebec community TV in 2001-19, Videotron has been especially destructive these past two years.

6) Taking away community access pushes Canadians ignored by commercial news systems towards civil unrest. The community channel has a good record for discussing issues in depth and giving activists an avenue that often leads to real change through debate, rather than through direct action and confrontation. Plus, you get some of the best music and art and theatre on community TV. We shouldn't abandon this hard-earned forum.

7) As a matter of CRTC policy, all broadcast distribution undertakings - cable, satellite and multipoint - should contribute 2% of their gross revenue to community programming, administered by non-profit organizations which hold community channel licenses independently.

8) In this particular case, a significant share of Quebecor's $30 million benefit package which is directed toward the public good should be remitted to those independent organizations operating community channels in Quebec who have suffered these past two years. That is the most democratic way to encourage the production of Canadian programming. The quality of Canadian community TV is recognized internationally.

9) We want community television that ensures diversity of voices and alternative choices at the local level. This decision can help put such a system on a sound financial footing.




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

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