BANFF — The Banff World Television Festival kicked off Sunday June 11 with Canadian Heritage Minister Bev Oda announcing a wide-sweeping review of the impact of new technology on Canada’s broadcasting industry.
“With the arrival of new technologies, the growth of the private sector and the virtual explosion of choice on our airways, much has changed in broadcasting,” Minister Oda told delegates gathered in Banff, Alberta for the four-day fest.
“This study will provide the government with crucial information to ensure that the Canadian broadcasting system as a whole remains responsive to the needs and interests of all Canadians.”
The government has therefore asked Canada’s broadcast regulator the CRTC to undertake a fact-finding mission to determine how TV, radio, the internet and other emerging platforms affect the broadcasting industry as a whole.
The CRTC is asked to present its report by mid-December.
“This will help the government as it sets broadcasting policy for the 21st century,” Oda said.
In addition to outlining the details of the study, CRTC Chairman Charles Dalfen is expected on Monday June 11 to announce a parallel review of television policy.
Steve Waddell, national executive director of ACTRA, Canada’s largest union representing thesps, welcomed the review. ACTRA has long complained that the production community is feeling the pinch while Canadian broadcasters profit by running US fare rather than investing sufficient funds in homegrown dramatic programming.
Many believe that CBC/SRC, Canada’s pubcaster, has been in the government’s sites for potential paring, but Minister Oda ruled out the inclusion of the pubcaster in the CRTC review.
Unnamed industry sources said that the CBC/SRC is politically too much of a “hot button issue” for the new government to take on until after the current review, or potentially the next election. There is significant loyalty to Canada’s pubcaster by Canadian voters, and the primary goal of the Conservative government, which is currently in a minority position, is to win a majority in the next election.
In addition, organizers of the festival released a state-of-the-industry report on Friday regarding the future of television in Canada. Study says the industry’s success will be determined by its “ability to seize opportunities and address challenges presented by technological developments, foreign markets and by its own domestic strategies and policies.”