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ACTRA PRESENTS PRESCRIPTION FOR HEALTHY BROADCASTING SYSTEM: What use is a Canadian broadcasting system if it only brings us foreign content?

September 15, 2009 — Toronto – Canadian performers have provided the CRTC with a prescription to rejuvenate Canada’s ailing broadcasting system. ACTRA’s proposal would ensure that Canadians can see our own dramatic programming in prime time while making sure broadcasters and cable companies do their fair share to support the broadcasting system that serves them so well.

“It’s clear TV’s status quo isn’t working. However, rather than tear down our regulatory system like the broadcasters and cable companies would have us do, we should work together to build and improve the system. We’re urging the CRTC to seize the opportunity presented by these hearings to take a bold and creative approach,” said Ferne Downey, ACTRA National President.

In its submission to the CRTC’s wide-ranging broadcasting policy review, ACTRA proposes:

  • keeping Cancon spending and programming rules in place for specialty TV channels and expanding that model to conventional broadcasters;
  • setting broadcast-group-based expenditure and exhibition requirements for drama, docs and children’s programming; and
  • requiring cable companies to pay conventional broadcasters fairly for their signals if broadcasters commit to spending the new revenues on Canadian programming.

“The Canadian broadcast industry has been facing economic challenges just like other industries in this recession. Unfortunately the dearth of Canadian TV drama in prime time is the biggest challenge over the past 10 years and broadcasters don’t want to talk about,” said Stephen Waddell, ACTRA National Executive Director.

Canadian English-language drama has been a rarity on prime time since 1999 – the year that the CRTC relaxed the rules for private broadcasters. Since then, private broadcasters have been filling Canada’s prime time schedules with U.S. shows. Last year they spent $740 million on U.S. and foreign programming and just $54 million on Canadian English-language drama.

“What use are Canadian broadcasters if they only air foreign content? It’s time to end the free ride for broadcasters and big cable and make them earn the money Canadian consumers give them by giving something back,” said Downey.

“Instead of licensing high-quality, distinctive Canadian drama to attract audiences, the broadcasters consistently whine about their current minimal regulatory obligations. And big cable is poised once again to pass the buck to Canadians if fee-for-carriage is finally approved – that’s wrong. It’s only fair that those profiting most from the system should be reaching into their own pockets to contribute back to its ongoing vitality,” said Waddell.

ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) is the national organization of professional performers working in the English-language recorded media in Canada. ACTRA represents the interests of 21,000 members across Canada – the foundation of Canada’s highly acclaimed professional performing community.

For more information:
Carol Taverner, Public Relations Officer
(416) 644-1519, , cell: (416) 768-3336

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