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Quebecor to resume fund payments

Company gives coin to Canuck TV again

MONTREAL — Quebecor Media, which owns Montreal-based cable operator Videotron, is set to resume making monthly payments to the Canadian Television Fund.

In late January, Videotron announced it was stopping payments to the fund, a public-private partnership that pumps C$250 million ($214 million) into Canuck TV production each year.

Quebecor execs said they were unhappy with the way the fund was managed and were not pleased that it gives 38% of its money to productions destined for pubcaster CBC. Quebecor also owns Canada’s leading private French TV network, TVA.

Quebecor is set to resume giving financial support to the Canadian Television Fund because Quebecor CEO Pierre Karl Peladeau now sees a willingness on the part of broadcast regulator the Canadian Radio-television & Telecommunications Commission, which oversees the fund, to look into changing the fund’s structure.

In his first statement since the crisis erupted around the fund last month, CRTC chairman Konrad von Finckenstein said his agency was willing to work with both Videotron and Shaw, the other cable operator that had pulled its support of the fund, to try to deal with their complaints. But the CRTC topper also hinted the agency would force the cablers to pay if they didn’t do so willingly. By CRTC regulation, the cable operators have to give the Canadian Television Fund 5% of their revenues.

Quebecor CEO Peladeau is still unhappy with the fund, but he is prepared to start making the payments as a goodwill gesture in the hope that all the partners will be able to come up with a new structure for the fund.

“The current regulations have been rendered obsolete by the upheavals on the Canadian (TV) scene,” said Peladeau. “We are prepared, in good faith and as quickly as possible, to undertake discussions with the federal authorities. We are committed to acting in a way that will sustain the production of Canadian content.”

Videotron pumped $12 million into the Canadian Television Fund last year, with Shaw injecting an additional $51 million.

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