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October 8, 2009 — Toronto – While broadcasters and cable companies fight it out over fee-for-carriage, performers are challenging them to commit to supporting Canadian programming, especially drama.

“With cable bills on the rise, broadcasters threatening to close local stations, and less Canadian programming on TV, Canadians aren’t getting what we’re paying for,” said Ferne Downey, ACTRA National President. “It’s time to stop the cable rip-offs and get more Canada on Canadian TV.”

The Canadian public grants broadcasters and cable companies the privilege of exploiting our airwaves for profit. In exchange, the Broadcasting Act requires them to ensure that Canadians have a voice on our TVs.

Unfortunately Canadian TV schedules have become dominated by U.S. programming. Last year private broadcasters spent $740 million on U.S. and foreign programming and just $54 million on Canadian English-language drama. It’s time for private broadcasters and big cable reverse this trend by giving more back to the system without passing the buck on to Canadians.

“Performers will support fee-for-carriage if broadcasters commit to putting the money back into producing Canadian programming. We agree that cable companies can and should contribute more to the system but we can’t support a new form of revenue for broadcasters if they’re just going to take the bag of money and spend it all in Hollywood,” said Stephen Waddell, National Executive Director, ACTRA.

“Broadcasters and cable need to stop this tit-for-tat game-playing and tell Canadians what they are going to do to stop flooding our airwaves with U.S. content and ensure that Canadians can see our own stories on our TVs in prime time,” said Downey.

ACTRA is urging the CRTC to step in and impose spending and content requirements for Canadian drama on broadcasters.

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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