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CRTC decisions continue to put Canadian broadcast system at risk

The CRTC under Chairman Jean-Pierre Blais has done considerable damage to Canada’s film and television sector, but ACTRA members are organizing and pushing back.

License Renewals

This week, we saw the CRTC announce it had renewed the licenses for English-Language TV broadcasters. Unsurprisingly, the Commission ignored ACTRA’s request that broadcasters be required to increase the amount they are required to invest in “Programs of National Interest,” like dramas and documentaries. ACTRA members Jean Yoon, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee and Yannick Bisson travelled to Ottawa last fall to press the case for more investment in this type of Canadian programming. As Jean noted, “We believe increasing expenditures on Programs of National Interest is urgent and necessary to ensure Canadians have access to a healthy quantity of diverse and compelling Canadian programming during the new term.” Unfortunately, the CRTC moved in the opposite direction, and reduced the requirement. It’s estimated this could reduce investment in this type of Canadian programming by $40 million a year. Read our press release by clicking here, the CRTC ruling by clicking here and the testimony ACTRA gave by clicking here.

Simultaneous Substitution

Meanwhile, ACTRA has been granted intervenor status in a court case launched by CTV and the NFL challenging the CRTC’s decision to scrap simultaneous substitution during the Super Bowl. ACTRA got involved in this appeal because the CRTC decision hurts Canadian culture and will mean fewer work opportunities for ACTRA members. Simultaneous substitution is a policy designed to protect Canada’s broadcasting system. If an American and Canadian TV station are showing the same program at the same time, the Canadian station is “simultaneously substituted” so Canadians will see the Canadian station and Canadian advertisements. This creates work for ACTRA members working on Canadian advertisements. It also ensures revenue for Canadian TV networks, who get to sell more ad space. That money is used to create work for ACTRA members on Canadian television programs. It’s a system that’s worked for many decades but the CRTC decision puts all that at risk. Read our release here.

Blais’s Legacy

You can also check out the most recent issue of ACTRA Magazine for a look at the legacy of Blais’s term as CRTC Chair. Click here to read online.

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