Friday, May 22, 2009

Canadians, Please Support Local TV!

This article is just for our Canadian readers. By now you’ve probably seen one of the several commercials CTV is running about saving local TV stations, and tomorrow is a national day of action. We here at Moon Chase encourage you to get involved! Still a little confused about what’s going on? We’re going to break it down for you.

For at least a decade, local TV stations such as CTV, Global, A-Channel, NTV, and CBC have been in trouble. Cable and Satellite TV providers in Canada transmit local TV signals, however none of the sometimes astronomical fees you pay each month on your bill go back to your local station. These stations have largely had to rely on revenues from advertisers on the air and on the internet, however it is just not enough and every local TV station is facing a crisis as we speak. Twice in the last few months these stations have all appealed to the CRTC asking for Cable and Satellite TV providers to pay them a fee-for-carriage (essentially the companies have to pay the stations for retransmitting their signals and programming), but unfortunately the CRTC has denied their requests. Currently in the United States, there is a fee-for-carriage system and cable providers have the right to drop a TV station if they cannot come to an agreement. CTV is also calling for a review of how cable and satellite companies bundle and bill customers for channels in an effort to protect consumers. CTV has stated that they do not want the customers to pay, the want the companies to pay.

On a side note , think about your cable bill. You pay a rental fee each month for a digital box just to access regular cable, and it’s likely that you have a few theme packages added to your extended cable so you can enjoy many of the current TV and movie hits (Movie Central, The Movie Network, Super Channel, and The CW all come to mind). And most providers in Canada charge you extra per month if you want a box that has a personal video recorder included. Some cable companies in Canada don’t have the technology in place where one box can power all the TVs in your house. So if you have two televisions, you need two boxes, etc. You would think that the cable company just gets revenue from your box rentals, and the rest goes to the channels you pay for. However, that is not the case with local TV stations. Only specialty channels get anything back from your cable bill.

Tomorrow, CTV and A-Channel stations across the country will be having an open house. There will be teams of tour guides showing the public how local TV is made, and they will also show you all the departments in the station. The stations will also have old clips, milestones, and memorabilia from the past on display. There will also likely be petitions to sign, and contacts handed out for your local MP and other noteworthy people in Parliament to contact. Furthermore, CTV Newsnet will be airing a 2 hour live special starting at 1PM Eastern with footage from the day’s events at all 16 CTV and A-Channel stations having open houses. For more information, visit CTV's campaign site, and choose your local station from the map.

As of this writing, CTV is the only station which is rallying up public interest of this issue. I’m sure at one time or another we have all needed CTV’s help in our communities to get the word out about certain events - I know last year that was it not for a TV appearance for a biology expo that I was involved with, we would not have had such a successful turnout. Over the years they have been around helping out for local charity events as well - and their news personalities have always been great to deal with, always going above and beyond to make sure they have every detail.

Readers, if you can attend their open houses tomorrow, please do. If not, please write Prime Minister Stephen Harper , the CRTC, and the Minister of Heritage, James Moore. Local stations are such an important part of Canadian television and they need to be saved!

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