Wednesday, May 27, 2009

TV IN CANADA IS A MESS

I have nothing to say about the recent box office showdown which Terminator Salvation lost to Night at the Museum 2. Instead, I want to talk about the sorry state of TV in Canada.

Suffice it to say that TV delivery in Canada is all about politics and bureaucracy. It's interest groups run amuck. You have heavy-handed regulators picking which channels go on the air and which American signals get blocked out, and you have all these various "friends of Canadian TV" screaming that there should be more funds for Canadian productions and for the CBC, and they scream for more regulations to force the networks to show more made-in-Canada TV shows. You get the idea.

Well, as you know the CTV network has gotten into the act lately with their "save local TV" campaign. This is the usual politicking we have come to expect from the TV networks in this country. CTV is lobbying the CRTC to force cable companies to pay 50 cents on the dollar for carrying CTV's local signals. If CTV doesn't get this cash, they say, local TV will be threatened and all your favorite local stations and local newscasts will get the boot.

They are cloaking this campaign with this feel-good message about how we don't want to lose local TV, so they are rolling out all these politicians like Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall, who are all willing to go on record to say how terrible it would be to lose local stations and all the good things they do for the community and so on. And they had this big national open house at all the CTV stations, pushing this party line of how terrible it would be to lose local TV forever.

But who, exactly, is it that is threatening the future of local TV? The government? The Americans? No, in fact the ones threatening local TV's future are CTV themselves. They are basically threatening to kill local programming and even entire stations right across Canada if they don't extract the cash they want from the cable companies for their free-to-air signals. It's CTV who have been threatening to close the A-Channels in Windsor and Wingham -- the ones that were saved at the last minute when Shaw bought them out for a measly one dollar.

This "feel-good" campaign to save local TV is basically a campaign to save your local TV station from chop-happy CTV accountants. That's what this is really about, in my opinion.

The folks at the cable companies are calling BS to this whole "save local TV" campaign, saying that what CTV is proposing is basically a tax. They're right!

Bloggers like this guy at the Legion of Decency are also calling BS to the whole thing. Then you have folks like Denis McGrath who say it's too late -- the patient is dead already, all because these networks insisted on wasting money buying up stations and consolidating.

Personally, I'm not at all happy with what CTV is doing. They're basically saying they want to abandon investment in any sort of local TV commitment unless they get their beloved loot! Threatening to wipe out local TV across the country if you don't get 50 cents on the dollar for carriage fees for over the air signals that have been free for the masses since the beginning of time just reeks of an abandonment of any sort of commitment to public service or the public good.

If CTV gets their way, fine -- but everyone will have to cancel cable TV. And since CTV owns what seems like half the cable channels in this country, I'm sure that's not something they'll like too much, either. These TV companies think the cable customers are a bottomless pit of money. We aren't!

CTV is far better off investing in their own product, for a CHANGE, instead of these crappy American shows. They're better of trying to come up with the next Corner Gas or something else that they can sell into global syndication, because that's what will ultimately make CTV money. If they do that, they'll get rich and can show all the local TV they want.

I know, too hard to do. Here's another idea -- why not simply fire eTalk's Ben Mulroney and distribute the money from his fat salary to local TV? Really, no one in Canada would miss him.

Hardy har har. Big joke from me.
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In related news, Canada's TV networks were once again shopping for new fall programming in, you guessed it, the States.

2 comments:

Skinny Dipper said...

I should do an analysis of CTV's local suppertime news and see how much local content there is. There is nothing local about CTV's other programming.

I remember You Cant Do That on Television which was produced by CTV's CJOH-TV in Ottawa. You would never get that kind of kids' program again.

Skinny Dipper said...

I just bought a cheap UHF antenna. I can get about 8 channels. I can now watch the Stanley Cup finals in HD on CBC.

Unfortunately, may apartment faces NE. I can get one Buffalo channel (ch. 23.1). The rest are from Toronto.