Friends of Canadian Broadcasting expressed disappointment with the new policy for local TV released today by the CRTC.
Describing the CRTC’s decisions as “fiddling while Rome burns”, FRIENDS’ spokesperson Ian Morrison expressed disbelief that the new policy does not kick in until September 2023.
“Independent local TV stations declared an emergency months ago. It’s like they called the fire department and the CRTC has told them that help will be on the way in 15 months,” Morrison said.
Yesterday’s decision eliminates the Small Market Local Production Fund, a $9 million fund that supports small market, independent broadcasters who have been teetering on the brink of bankruptcy for months. It is to be replaced by the Independent Local News Fund, a fund that is twice the size but will be made available to more broadcasters.
“The CRTC is trying to look good but it’s only a shell game, giving support with one hand while taking it away with the other,” Morrison said.
Meanwhile, the richest players in Canadian broadcasting – cable and other distributors – will not be required to support Canadian programming any more than they currently do with the 5% contribution.
“The CRTC is clinging to the mistaken belief that there is enough money in the system to save local news in Canada’s small and medium-sized markets,” Morrison said.
“Stations will close and the CRTC under the watch of J.P. Blais will be responsible,” Morrison said.