CBC/Radio-Canada license renewal challenged

CBC/Radio-Canada license renewal contested


Several lobby groups have called on the government to rescind or reconsider the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) decision on the license renewal for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (SRC), rendered last June. 

Friday, the National Federation of Retired Persons (FPN), the Center for the Defense of the Public Interest (CDIP-PIAC) and the Association québécoise de media production (AQPM) submitted a petition to the CRTC, while the Canadian Association of Media Producers (CMPA) submitted one to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Pablo Rodriguez.

“The CRTC is allowing CBC/SRC to shift its funds from its linear services to its online services by removing almost all presentation requirements on traditional television when no stakeholder, not even the public broadcaster, has applied for it. this sense”, lamented the FPN and the CDIP-PIAC in their joint request.

“The CRTC’s sudden and massive removal of exhibition and expenditure requirements and related licensing requirements will result in a reduction in the delivery of Canadian content by CBC/SRC to Canadians who depend on linear and over-the-air television […] ]. This policy shift in the fundamental protection of all Canadians' access to distinctly Canadian programming is unexpected, shocking, painful and destructive,” it also read.

Problem of access and independent production

The FPN and PIAC-PIAC believe that the CRTC decision poses an additional challenge for seniors in Canada due to access and cost. “Removing programming from linear television directly harms seniors by reducing accessible programming. It also means that seniors who wish to continue receiving local news and programming may soon need to subscribe to internet service, a monetary and technical challenge for many seniors,” the petition reads. /p>

For its part, the CMPA denounced the elimination of an important condition of licence, which required the SRC to work with independent media producers when producing Canadian programs.

“Honestly, this CRTC decision came out of nowhere and will negatively affect the Canadian media production sector in many troubling ways,” said Reynolds Mastin, CMPA President and CEO. The decision undermines federal broadcasting policy objectives and is fundamentally dangerous to the future of the independent media production sector in Canada.”

The CRTC's decision, made without notice, does not had not even been requested by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, pointed out the CMPA.

“The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation commands the most independent programming in Canada, and the elimination of this condition will have repercussions negative impact on the future of Canadian programming,” added Mr. Mastin.

Like the other organizations, the AQPM considers that the decision of June 22 constitutes “an about-face compared to its previous decisions, thus compromising the balance of the broadcasting system”.

“As a public broadcaster, the CBC must meet the highest programming standards in order to ensure the achievement of the objectives of Canadian broadcasting policy. It is up to the CRTC to establish conditions that ensure that the public broadcaster fulfills its mandate. […] The majority decision of the CRTC creates a dangerous and completely unjustified precedent”, declared Hélène Messier, president and director general of the AQPM in a press release on Monday.

The bad example

For these organizations, granting CBC/SRC “flexibility” also opens “an irresistible pathway” for other private broadcasters to demand the same treatment. Viewers could experience “the rapid impoverishment of linear and live television services”, worried in particular the FPN and the CDIP-PIAC.

According to them, the CRTC's decision “sets a bad example to Canadian private broadcasters based in Canada, but also to foreign digital broadcasters. “The Commission's decision means that Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, Disney+, YouTube and any other foreign-based online audiovisual service can argue for deregulatory treatment similar to that of CBC/SRC, regardless of let him be.”