The hearings for the renewal of Radio-Canada’s licenses began yesterday. In virtual. They will last two weeks.
These hearings were postponed twice. First, it has been said, because Catherine Tait had just been appointed CEO, then because the CRTC was in public consultation, then because the experts at Janet Yale, responsible for revising our broadcasting laws and telecommunications, were in full cogitation, finally because the coronavirus came to upset the process.
The hearings should have been postponed again. This time, to allow the federal government to finally take a position on the recommendations of Janet Yale’s committee concerning Radio-Canada. With its Bill C-10, Ottawa ended up making a headache on the much more complicated question of the giants of the net, but on Radio-Canada, over which it has full authority, it did nothing.
Justin Trudeau’s government cannot use its minority position to keep its arms folded. Any measure that would specify the mandate of the public broadcaster, guarantee its funding or promote Radio-Canada, even unduly, would be supported by the Bloc Québécois and the NDP. Even the more controversial one of the gradual withdrawal of advertising, which would however require additional funds.
A VERY CLEAR REPORT
Radio-Canada cannot ignore the extent to which the lack of advertising has made its radio stations incomparable. However, its management is terrified of seeing advertising on television disappear. The Yale report could not be clearer. It recommends that the government make financial commitments of at least five years and that Radio-Canada gradually eliminate advertising from all of its broadcasting media over the next five years, starting with news content.
The report also recommends that the law be amended so that the role of the CRTC is to monitor all of CBC / Radio-Canada’s content-related activities, rather than licensing its individual services. That the CRTC also report annually to the Minister of Canadian Heritage on how the public broadcaster is fulfilling its mandate.
A PAINFUL MASCADE
What will the CRTC do over the next two weeks? None of this, since nothing has changed following the Yale report. For now, the CRTC does not even regulate digital broadcasting platforms.
Ironically, he will nevertheless hear Radio-Canada defending tooth and nail the need to give more and more importance to its digital platforms. He will also hear Radio-Canada evoke once again its good intentions regarding the inclusion of the disabled and LGBTQ +, on screen and in its staff, without forgetting the sacrosanct diversity and Francophone minorities outside Quebec.
More than 70 individuals, organizations and competing television networks will denounce the commercial practices of the public broadcaster, its encroachment on what should be the preserve of the private sector and the unfair competition to which Radio-Canada engages despite the rich credits it receives. allowed.
In short, a staging that has all the appearances of a masquerade, because the government would have had to first decide on the future of the public broadcaster before these hearings were held. As we have put the cart before the “beus”, the commissioners of the CRTC will no doubt feel like impostors since they have nothing to do with the mandate and funding of Radio-Canada, which the stakeholders will discuss above all.