By the way, local in news is doing just fine in the United States; local newscasts are what stations call a profit centre.
Fixing an unfair model
The Ottawa Citizen
November 3, 2009 5:08 AM
Outside of election campaigns, it isn't often that Canadian television commercials become ideological battlegrounds. So viewers might be surprised to find themselves the target of a media campaign over who pays what for television programming. They might be even more surprised to learn that their cable and satellite providers don't pay a dime to carry channels such as CBC, CTV, A Channel and Global (owned by Canwest, which also owns the Citizen).
The roots of this arrangement stretch back to the pre-cable era, when signals went out through the air. When cable started distributing the broadcast channels, there might have been mutual benefit in the arrangement. By carrying the popular networks, cable was more attractive to consumers. And the wider audience would benefit the broadcasters and allow them to make more money off advertising.
Like all other media, the business of television is going through a culture shift. The question of who pays for content, and how, is one newspapers, in print and online, are trying to answer. So are music companies and musicians. So are book publishers and writers and photographers. So is television. This is a new era for media. The broadcasters rightly note it is unfair for cable and satellite providers to sell their channels to consumers, without paying a dime to the channels themselves.
The broadcasters want the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to allow them to negotiate fees with cable and satellite companies. It would make sense for the CRTC to step back and allow the two sides to work out a fair price for this content. Other goods and services are distributed based on negotiated prices in an open market; there's no reason television should be different. As the broadcasters have convincingly argued, local TV news is especially at risk if they aren't able to start charging for content. The future of local journalism depends on making sure that the business models still work -- or finding new ones when they don't. Canadians value their local news, and are quite vocal about it.
In a recent Nanos Research study, 70 per cent of respondents agreed that local TV stations should get some of the money that consumers pay on their monthly cable or satellite bills. The cable and satellite companies are telling consumers that what the broadcasters want is a "tax" on television. That's absurd. What the broadcasters want is fair, negotiated market value for the content they produce. Canadian content isn't something that can just be regulated into existence.
It takes money to make local TV. Over the next couple of months, the CRTC will be hearing arguments around this issue, including comments from the public. For some Canadians, all of this might seem remote and confusing. It's actually simple: it's about receiving fair compensation for one's services and products. And this issue is anything but remote or technical. It's about whether the culture of your neighbourhood can carve out a place for itself in the digital-media world of the 21st century. (c) Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen
The above is just an explanation of a model that is wrong and needs to be changed today.
What the CRTC has to do is make local TV local. Unless your town is Toronto, most of the over the air signals in your cities are repeaters. Global pioneered this process back in the '70s. In America the satellite providers and cable companies are only allowed to offer local over the air channels available in market along with the cable stuff: CNN, ESPN, BBC etc. Therefore if you are in St. Louis you get the local St. Louis network affiliates etc. In our home and native land I get CBC, CTV, Global etc affiliates from all across the country, cannibalizing the local stations.
Another tax is not the answer; changing the system is the answer.