Wednesday, November 18, 2009

On The CRTC and "Local Television"

Understand the following: Being Erica isn't 'Local' Television. Flashpoint, also not 'Local' Television. ET: Canada. Nope, not 'Local' Television either. They're Entertainment programming by definition, Canadian made by happenstance.

'Local' Television is TV about your community. These days, on major networks, that basically covers the Nightly News. Now frequently banished to hours in which you're driving home, or 11:30 if you're lucky and enough of an insomniac to stay up past the National news at 11 to see what's going on in your back yard. Major networks don't, say, carry your local sports team anymore, CBC Hockey notwithstanding, while the various talk programs and community shows have steadily lost their time slots to Infomercials that generate money instead of cost money*.

So, functionally, in saving 'Local' television, you're basically paying to keep getting the News. Interestingly, in the US, Local News on affiliate stations is enough of a profit centre that Jay Leno is currently having nightmares about what happens if he drops below a 1 rating and starts biting into their profits. But then, they actually still know how to run a TV station there.

Here, the reality is that we've lost that. Our main networks are addicted to a steady stream of US produced programming to the point where, now that they control the vast majority of cable specialty channels between them, they believe a threat to withdraw said programming from the public is the best way to line up more cash. Not only that, but they look at the steady revenue from cable subscribers their "subscription" channels get and then declare that their Broadcast stations are a drag on their revenue because they're not as easy to leech money from. Oh, and the Canadian entertainment programming and 'local' programming? That's a Tax on their profits.

Which raises the question: if our TV providers believe producing News and Canadian TV is above them, that they need just be affiliates of the US nets in everything but name, then why not just let in the US Networks and be done with it? At least they still know how to make TV and it's not like they're going to be any more antagonistic towards Canadian Content than this crew...

Or, perhaps it's time to undo the mess the CRTC has created over the last few years and force the networks to divest themselves of the Cable Specialty Channels they think enable them to survive without running TV stations anymore.

*Interestingly, and I'm surprised the Cable Co's aren't making more of this, all those sports talk, high school sports, JR A hockey games, community events, Local style shows are sitting on Community Cable.

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