Canadian broadcasters including CTV, Global, and the A Channels have formed an organization called Local TV Matters. The purpose for this organization is to set up a system that will force cable and satellite companies to pay into a local programming fund. And, why should you care? Because, if the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) approves this fee-for-carriage (a fee that cable and satellite companies would have to pay broadcasters to carry their signals), the cable and satellite companies will raise their fees to the consumers in order to recuperate their payments. So at the end of the day, it’s the consumer who will end up paying for this local programming fund. And, if this fee-for-carriage gets approved, what will prevent American broadcasters from demanding the same?
The cable and satellite companies are dead against this fee-for-carriage program. Rogers has called it “an unnecessary bailout for over-the-air broadcasters and an unfair tax on cable and satellite television subscribers” and estimates that it could end up costing the cable and satellite subscribers an additional $5 - $10 per month. This is in addition to the fee that came into effect on September 1, 2009, to finance the Local Programming Improvement Fund (LPIF), a fund established by the CRTC to provide a subsidy for smaller market television stations. According to an email that Rogers sent to its customers, “The CRTC has suggested that if the cable and satellite distributors don’t go along with the fee-for-carriage scheme, the television signals of American network stations, (NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX and PBS) which we have distributed since cable TV began, will be taken away”.
What can you do? Contact your Member of Parliament. Will we ultimately be able to afford to watch television?