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The Canadian Conference of the Arts urges the CRTC to put communities back in community television

Ottawa, ON (May 4, 2010) – Today, Alain Pineau, National Director of the Canadian Conference of the Arts (CCA), urged the CRTC to put communities back in community television. He also deplored the lack of data made available for a full evaluation of how cable operators use the $ 130 million they collect for community television.

The current hearing explores how best to achieve the social and cultural objectives of community broadcasting as set in the Broadcasting Act. Over the years, cable operators have drastically changed the concept of community television and have reduced the number of available community stations. Some provinces now have only one community channel and in general, there has been a decrease in original community programming in Canada as compared to ten years ago.

“This important issue can’t be dealt with fairly within the confines of this current hearing,” said Pineau. “We need a broader and better informed public debate on this important cultural and social policy issue – one that is based on factual analysis of the current system and of the alternatives in front of us.”

Based on the evidence available, CCA favours the proposal put forward by the Canadian Association of Community Television Users and Stations (CACTUS) which calls for giving ownership and control of community television back to community based organizations. CACTUS also proposes the creation of some 250 multi-media community centres at no additional costs to Canadians.  This proposal has received the support of a large number of cultural and civil society organizations; however, the CRTC seems reluctant to take community stations away from cable.

The CCA invites the CRTC to do the following:

– Prepare a report  on the debate based on the current hearing;

– Demand from cable operators detailed reports on their management of the current model and what they propose to do with community television;

– Keep the status quo for one more year as each party presents its case to Canadians across the country.

The Canadian Conference of the Arts (CCA) is the oldest and most widely based umbrella organization representing the full spectrum of the arts and culture sector in Canada, both English and French.  Its mission is to be the national forum for the arts and cultural community in Canada; to provide research, analysis and consultations on public policies affecting the arts and the Canadian cultural institutions and industries; to foster informed public debate on policy issues and seek to advance the cultural rights of Canadians.