Monday, November 30, 2009

Okay, So That Didn’t Get Us Anywhere…

How about we talk to the people we’re supposed to be representing instead?

Interesting initiative from the CRTC this morning.

After two weeks of entertaining the hopes and dreams of government-made Billionaires and realizing that those who want to “Save Local TV” won’t guarantee that any of the money they get will actually go toward doing that while those who seek to “Stop The TV Tax” are only too happy to keep collecting it from their customers; the Commissioners found they were no more enlightened than they had been going into the recent TV hearings.

So now they want to know what you think.

Scott Hutton, Executive Director of Broadcasting for the Commission, explains here…

Wow! Let’s find out what the Audience wants! What a concept!

For some, (including me) this may smack of another cynical attempt to pretend interest in input when decisions or compromises are already made. But as my multiple divorces prove, I can be wrong sometimes too. So maybe this is worth our participation.

Throughout the hearings, I was repeatedly struck by how diligently Commissioners parsed the submissions they heard, extracting fibre evidence so unnoticeable from each proposal that they would have made Gil Grissom proud. And then, after exhibiting that due diligence, they would ask questions proving they didn’t have even the first clue as to how the industry they regulate operates.

Nor, though repeatedly asking for new ideas, were they able to grasp them when they arrived.

How many groups copied them on the Nordicity report that indicates Canadian TV shows make money? Five? Six? And maybe it’s just me, but weren’t they copied on it a year ago as well? And yet, no matter how often it plopped on their desks, they still didn’t seem to be able to get their heads around what was on its pages.

They also felt the Writers Guild of Canada’s proposal for funding Primetime programming was “very complicated”, while insisting the world they’ve created of “Must carries”, “second tiers” and an endless list of acronyms that mean completely different things to different parts of the industry is crystal clear.

However, from the opening moments, it was evident Commission Chair Konrad von Finckenstein had heard Heritage Minister James Moore’s Summer admonition that the impact on consumers needed to be foremost. And then came the admission that the 1999 ruling that gutted drama production was “wrong” and even a frustrated final day rant by Commissioner Timothy Denton asking why he couldn’t just turn on his TV and see Canadian shows that offered him some “entertainment”.

So maybe we are finally getting somewhere and maybe this is our opportunity to get a little further.

You can access the CRTC’s Online Consultation here. Your views can be communicated until Midnight December 21, 2009.

Please take the time to kick in your thoughts. It might actually mean you’ll finally get the kind of Canadian TV you deserve.


wcdixon said...

CRTC Consultation site is already down. Sigh.

jimhenshaw said...

"Down" as in overwhelmed or like "We really have no clue how to do this stuff"?

Hoping it's the former, fearing its the latter.

deborah Nathan said...

Just scrolling through the commentary by the people, it boils down to two things: they aren't going to pay another penny for cable/satellite; they want an a la carte menu of channels and no bundling.

I don't think that will be a surprise to anyone.

Brandon Laraby said...

Looks like Broadcasters have wasted no time in breaking out the form letters.

Found... several... of these in the comments

Dear Secretary General,

The Survival of Local Television is very important in my community.

I urge your Commission to force the big cable monopolies to pay Canada's over-the-air broadcasters a fair price for their signals, to re-regulate the price of cable's basic service and to make sure taht big cable absorbs the funds it pays to Canada's local television broadcasters as a cost of doing business, rather than pass those costs along to customers.

Your Commission is responsible for the health of the Canadian broadcasting system and when you see that the biggest distributors are making money hand over fist and sucking billions of customers' dollars out of the system while conventional television stations are losing money, you have a responsibility to act.

Please take immediate action regarding the survival of "local television".

Yours sincerely,
That said, there are still lots of people genuinely writing in with their comments. Many, well, ill-informed... (the CRTC is not creating a Tax...).

My favourite letter so far:

Dear Chairman Von Finckenstein,

You will see a rise in crime as a direct result of this ridiculous move on your part.

(Comment #16006)

Ken said...

I hope you're right about there being a glimmer of hope on the horizon, Jim. But what I know for sure is that video of Scott Hutton wasn't shot by a Canadian "filmmaker" or director; bad composition and too much headroom.