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CRTC announces public hearing on the future of the Canadian television system - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

CRTC announces public hearing on the future of the Canadian television system

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SOURCE Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

OTTAWA and GATINEAU, QC, April 24, 2014 /CNW/ - The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today launched the third phase of Let's Talk TV: A Conversation with Canadians. This phase will feature a public hearing on the future of the television system starting on September 8, 2014, in the National Capital Region.

The CRTC intends to explore a number of changes to the television system to meet the current and future needs of Canadians as citizens, creators and consumers. In establishing a new approach for the television system, the CRTC will seek to ensure that the television system:

  • fosters choice and flexibility in selecting programs
  • encourages the creation of compelling and diverse content made by Canadians, and
  • empowers Canadians to make informed choices.

Fostering choice and flexibility

To ensure the television system fosters choice and flexibility, the CRTC is proposing that the basic television package that all subscribers receive be slimmed down and get back to basic. The new, slimmed-down package would consist of Canadian local television stations, channels of public interest that must currently be distributed to all subscribers (such as the Cable Public Affairs Channel and the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network), provincial educational channels, community channels and the services operated by provincial legislatures.

For all other services, Canadians would have three options: (1) they could choose channels on an individual basis (also known as pick-and-pay); (2) build their own packages of pay and specialty channels (also known as build-your-own-package); or (3) choose from packages that are pre-determined by cable and satellite companies.

This proposed approach to foster more choice and flexibility is at the centre of the CRTC's report to the Government of Canada, which was also released today. In November 2013, knowing that the CRTC was reviewing its framework for television, the Government asked for a report on the steps the CRTC intends to take to maximize the ability to subscribe on a service-by-service basis, and on the impact this could potentially have on the objectives set out in the Broadcasting Act.

Promoting Canadian-made content

To ensure the television system encourages the creation of compelling and diverse Canadian programs, the CRTC will explore new ways to ensure local television stations remain sustainable. The CRTC will also study various measures to support programs made by Canadians.

The CRTC will examine whether it should eliminate simultaneous substitution, which is the practice of replacing the signal of an American channel with that of a Canadian channel that is broadcasting the same program at the same time. In recent years, the CRTC has received numerous complaints from Canadians due to substitution errors, particularly during live sports events such as the Super Bowl.

If simultaneous substitution were no longer permitted, Canadian broadcasters may have more flexibility to schedule and promote Canadian shows, especially in prime time, rather than having their schedules tied to those of the American broadcasters.

Furthermore, the CRTC will explore whether an audience-measurement system that would draw information from cable set-top boxes should be created. Such a system could assist the Canadian television industry in responding more effectively to the changing needs and interests of viewers, while protecting their privacy.

Empowering Canadians

Canada's television system should empower Canadians to make informed choices and provide recourse in the case of disputes with their service providers. To this end, the CRTC will consider whether guidelines to promote greater clarity in contracts, as well as the terms regarding the cancellation of a subscription, are needed.

The CRTC will also discuss whether it should introduce a code of conduct for cable and satellite companies and whether an ombudsman should be made available to Canadians to help resolve disputes.

How to participate

Canadians are invited to share their views on these topics, as well as the others set out in the notice of consultation, by June 25, 2014. Canadians are also encouraged to indicate whether they wish to appear at the public hearing. They may do so by:

  • filling out the online form
  • writing to the Secretary General, CRTC, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0N2, or
  • sending a fax at 819-994-0218.

The CRTC will also host an online discussion forum for Canadians during the public hearing in September 2014.

Reports

The CRTC is making public a report describing the results of a telephone survey on television services that was conducted in December 2013. In the coming days, the CRTC will also release the results of the Let's Talk TV: Choicebook.

About Let's Talk TV: A Conversation with Canadians

In October 2013, the CRTC launched Let's Talk TV: A Conversation with Canadians, which was to be held in three phases.

During the initial phase, Canadians were invited to share their personal views on their television system by submitting their comments or joining an online discussion forum. In addition, Canadians were encouraged to organize volunteer-hosted events, called "Flash!" conferences, to discuss the Conversation's themes.

The second phase was launched in February 2014, with the Let's Talk TV: Choicebook. This interactive questionnaire presented different scenarios that reflected common experiences with the television system. Canadians were asked to weigh the different outcomes that certain changes could bring about and to reflect on how the needs and interests of others relate to their own.

To date, more than 10,000 people have participated in Let's Talk TV: A Conversation with Canadians.

More information is available at www.crtc.gc.ca/talktv.

Quick Facts

  • The CRTC has launched the third phase of Let's Talk TV: A Conversation with Canadians, and will hold a public hearing in September 2014 on the future of the television system.
  • Canadians helped identify and prioritize the issues that will be explored in this phase through their participation in the Conversation.
  • The CRTC will seek to ensure that the television system fosters choice and flexibility in selecting programs.
  • The CRTC will seek to ensure that the television system encourages the creation of compelling and diverse programs.
  • The CRTC will seek to empower Canadians to make informed choices and provides recourse in the case of disputes with their television service providers.
  • The CRTC has submitted a report to the Government describing its proposed approach to maximize choice and flexibility within the television system.

Quotes

"We would like to thank everyone who took the time to share their views on the future of the television system. Based on what Canadians said, we are proposing to make important changes to ensure their system adapts to an environment that is constantly evolving. But the Conversation is not over yet. The continued participation of all Canadians in this Conversation is essential and will ensure the ideas put forward meet their current and future needs as citizens, creators and consumers."

"We are also pleased to submit a report to the Government that sets a roadmap to achieve more choice and flexibility. We are proposing to give Canadians three options: they could choose individual channels, build their own packages of pay and specialty channels or choose from packages that are pre-assembled by cable and satellite companies."

Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman of the CRTC

Related links

Let's Talk TV: A Conversation with Canadians
Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2014-190 
Report on maximizing the ability of Canadian consumers to subscribe to discretionary services on a service-by-service basis 
Public opinion research report 
Let's Talk TV: A report on the comments received during Phase I

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