Broadcaster Magazine

Cogeco’s Submission to CRTC for Local and Community Television Programming

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  • Cogeco Connexion, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cogeco Communications Inc., appeared today at the public hearing held by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (“CRTC”) to review the policy framework for local and community television programming. 

    This review was initiated by the CRTC and builds on certain conclusions made during the “Let’s Talk TV” proceeding. Cogeco Connexion’s community television service, CogecoTV, is proposing to provide professional local news and information services in markets where there is no local television news service.

    “We are pleased to see that the Commission has decided to put forward for discussion an initiative that dovetails on a proposal that we made at the time of the previous review of community television policy, with a view to having terrestrial BDUs step up to the plate for local news and information in those communities where broadcasters don’t have any local studio presence,” said Johanne Hinse, Vice President, Residential Market, CogecoTV and Community Relations of Cogeco Connexion.

    Since the proceeding was announced in September, nearly 1,000 interveners filed interventions in support of CogecoTV, demonstrating its importance and relevance and highlighting its sterling reputation in ensuring this type of service is available in the local communities it serves in both Québec and Ontario. “The Commission should recognize that CogecoTV provides an essential outlet to support the activities of over thirteen hundred community groups, for which there is simply no alternative available in the public and private sectors of the Canadian broadcasting system,” stated Mrs. Hinse. “Our position upholds the importance we have always placed on being involved and present in the heart of communities, ensuring their voices can continue to be heard.”

    Below is an overview of Cogeco’s submission and position:

    •CogecoTV proposed to provide local news and information programming service on CogecoTV to seven small markets in Québec and seven small markets in Ontario, where no local over-the-air (OTA) television service is available, including North Bay, where CogecoTV has already been providing local news and information service since 2024, following the shutdown of CTV’s local television station.

    •The local news and information programming would be a mix of news, analysis, interpretation, reporting and actualities, adapted to the needs of each market served.

    •CogecoTV’s funding model is premised on the following sources:

    •Reinstate the full 2% of terrestrial Broadcasting Distribution Undertakings’ (BDU) revenues from broadcasting activities from the mandated contribution of licensed cable systems to community television.

    •Allow terrestrial BDUs that choose to offer professional news and information on their community television to re-allocate their video-on-demand contribution and the 0.6% of their broadcasting revenues from all systems, which can currently be provided to independent funds, to their professional news and information programming. This is commensurate with the importance of local news and information to the communities CogecoTV serves, the fact that it is 100% Canadian programming and the fact that neither independent funds nor the Canada Media Fund have the means to fund local news and information programs.

    •Similar to pay, specialty and OTA licensees, establish a flexible envelope regime where contributions from all systems owned by the same BDU ownership group can be distributed within the BDU’s systems, according to the specific needs of each of the markets served.

    CogecoTV’s proposal is an alternative to a second initiative proposed for discussion by the CRTC which could see its mandatory Canadian program funding contribution diverted away from its community channels. “We don’t believe this is a sound public policy option, particularly in the face of a growing unregulated segment of the Canadian broadcasting system over the Internet that is not required to invest anything in supporting production and exhibition of Canadian programs, including local news and information,” added Mrs. Hinse. “It is critical for the community television sector to retain its available funding and to continue offering local television to communities ignored or abandoned by Canadian broadcasters.”