CRTC announces beefed up funding for local television

By James Peters / Chad Harris
June 15, 2016 - 11:46am Updated: June 16, 2016 - 8:43am

KAMLOOPS — Canada's telecommunications regulator has announced a new framework to support local television news.

In a news release this morning, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has announced a seven-hour-per-week local programming requirement for local television.

But it has also announced a fund to support that programming, including $67 million for larger stations and $23 million for independent small market stations.

Rod Schween is the president of the Kamloops-based Jim Pattison Broadcast Group, that includes television stations in Kamloops, Prince George and Medicine Hat.

He says it will take some time to determine how helpful the new fund will be to independent stations like CFJC-TV in Kamloops.

Schween notes the new Independent Local News Fund will replace the former Small Market Local Programming Fund.

He says the new fund is bigger, but there will be more stations in bigger markets such as Hamilton and Montreal tapping into it, so it remains to be seen how much money goes to stations like the one in Kamloops.

"While the total fund is going up and initially this looked very promising, as we dig into this 84-page document a little further, we're seeing that is going to mean a reduction in the (Small Market Local Programming) funding. With these other markets coming in, it's not really going to provide the total relief we were hoping for to maintain news in smaller markets, " said Schween.

The Harper government announced the phasing out of the former Local Programming Improvement Fund for small market television in 2012.

Schween says the new money won't originate with a new tax or fee from the public.

"It is totally dependent upon the funds that are in the system which do come out of a percentage of revenues that are derived from cable and satellite providers. Five per cent of those go back into the system to help support Canadian programming, and a portion of that is now going to be going into this new fund."

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