For a couple of months now I have been seeing these commercials on Canada’s big three television stations (CTV, Global and CBC) saying they are experiencing financial difficulties and local TV is in trouble. As a general rule, I ignore commercials. Like really ignore them. My brain goes on screen saver as soon as there is a commercial break. I loathe commercials. An ex could never understand how I am able to do this. He would try to strike up a conversation regarding a commercial that had just finished airing and I would have no idea what he was talking about.
However working in the media field myself and the fact that it is very rare that I watch a non-Canadian station, these commercials grabbed my attention. I couldn’t understand why CBC would be in trouble as it is a crown corporation and owned by Canadian tax payers. Furthermore I couldn’t understand why the other two would be in jeopardy as they own a large majority of media (both TV and print) in Canada and they had just finished buying nearly if not all CHUM stations. Why on earth would you keep buying out small media if you are currently undergoing some financial crisis and claim that this has been brewing for years? Futhermore there are so many grants available to create Canadian television programs. Companies receive money from the Canadian government to do exactly that. Canadian media has always been subsidized by Canadian tax payers.
Part of the Big 3’s claim is that local programming is under threat should they not receive a bailout ($150 million) from tax payers. My first thought was, “What local programming?” I see very few Canadian made television shows on these channels and a lot of American shows where the broadcasters have to pay the American networks to air them. The only real differences (besides the odd Canadian show) between Canadian network television and American network television are: 1) No American commercials and 2) Hardly any censorship (two examples are Nip/Tuck is shown on network television in Canada without edit whereas it is shown on specialty channel in America and Blue Movies are available on network television). The only real local content that I have seen comes from the ShawTV channel. Needless to say these commercials left me boggled and when I would try to search for answers regarding this issue, I could not find any information explaining what exactly they would use this money for and what exactly is this crisis they are facing. Another thought I had was stop paying millions of dollars a year buying American shows which Canadians are free to watch on American network television and use that money to create more Canadian content on our Canadian channels.
So it was very pleasing to me to find the following e-mail waiting for me as I do my morning routine:
“CTV, CBC and Global TV are trying to convince Canadians that local TV is in trouble. What they’re really doing is trying to push through a TV tax on all Canadians for programming you get for free today.
They want this extra charge because they’ve misspent the hundreds of millions of dollars they’ve already received from taxpayers, cable and satellite companies. In total, cable and satellite companies pay $250 million a year in program funding to assist local broadcasters in producing Canadian television programs – as much additional funding as is provided by the Canadian government. Where does that money come from? It comes from the Canadian taxpayers.
The major broadcasters won’t even commit to using the new money to produce new local content. That’s why the CRTC has already turned them down twice.
None of us can afford to keep bailing out companies who don’t know how to control their spending. Help us hold the broadcasters accountable.
Visit SHAW.CA/NoTvTax to get the facts and make your voice heard.”
I strongly urge all Canadians to really understand the facts before making a decision. My personal opinion is this (and please bear in mind as I state this opinion my political views lean towards Democratic Socialist): Bailout money given to the Big 3 is a huge waste of Canadian taxpayers money!