Tuesday, March 23, 2010

CRTC Sells Out Canadians to CTV and Global

Global and CTV have one thing in common - they both shill for the Conservative government. However I'm sure that had nothing at all to do with their "win" before the CRTC which decided the broadcasters are entitled to compensation from the cable companies that distribute their programmes.

I carry no brief for the cable companies. They plainly overcharge for a second-rate product. But this isn't about what Rogers or Shaw charge or deliver to the public.

Television networks like CTV get their revenue through advertising. That's why they fill their spot on the public airwaves with American programmes of mass consumption, usually mindless reality shows and tired sitcoms. Agencies like the Bureau of Broadcast Measurement (BBM) track how many viewers watch individual shows. The larger an audience a particular show delivers the more advertising during that time slot will cost.

Having been a BBM survey participant I can attest that the company doesn't care less whether you watch a particular programme via a coaxial cable or a rooftop antenna. Doesn't make the slightest difference. All they care about is how many people are watching a particular show. That's all the advertiser cares about too.

Cable transmission allows the TV networks to reach a larger audience than they could ever achieve by over-the-airwaves broadcasting. Larger audience = more advertising revenues. It could (and should) be argued, therefore, that the cable companies already help the TV networks by delivering their shows and their shows' advertisers to a far larger audience.

The corollary asks why a network should be able to get money for a cable viewer that it doesn't receive for an over-the-airwaves broadcast viewer? The cost to the network for an antenna viewer and a cable viewer is the same. If you have a rooftop antenna and live close enough you get the shows free but if you get the shows via a cable then you'll have to pay for them? Make no mistake, the CRTC does foresee that the consumer will bear the cost and have proclaimed that we can afford it.

There was a time the CRTC placed the public interest first. That mandate seems to have gone out the window under the Tories.


Skinny Dipper said...

The irony is that I think the so-called local television will diminish because the cable and satellite companies will not want to include several of the small city stations in their line-up. The Sudbury CTV station could be at risk because the cable and satellite companies may only want one or two broadcast feeds: Toronto and Vancouver.

The Mound of Sound said...

I'm not so sure the cable companies are to blame for local station closings. I'd guess it's the nets that want to shed local broadcasting. Private broadcasters have a time-honoured tradition of trying to avoid committments made to the CRTC in licensing hearings. With the smaller provinces I think the nets would be delighted to only have to maintain one "local" station.

LMA said...

The situation will no doubt get a lot more complicated when Canada coverts to digital next year. Over the air digital transmission is such great quality, it makes me wonder why anyone would pay for cable. Of course you have to be in range of the signal, and perhaps it might not be suitable for all. For anyone interested in finding out what over the air signals they can pick up in their location, tvfool.com provides an analysis for specific locations, showing both analogue and digital stations.

The Mound of Sound said...

Grrr. I followed your link LMA and confirmed I'll not be enjoying the blessings of over-the-air digital. There are a few channels, mostly CBC, but they're awfully weak. I expect that's the result of distance and mountains.

That's why we need cable companies because the bastards we call broadcasters aren't interested in broadly casting their signals. They just want a hunk of what they perceive to be the cable operators' action.

LMA said...

Sorry about that MoS. I guess those of us living in the Golden Horseshoe near the Great Lakes are in one of the best locations for digital over the air.

There is just so much junk on TV that cable fees have always seemed to me to be a huge waste of money. Heck, we can even watch TV on our computers now, and use a portable modem without cable for that.

The Mound of Sound said...

LMA, I've breathed your air. If that's the price you have to pay to get free TV I'm sorry but I'll pass.

LMA said...

Well I hardly live here because of the TV reception! Yup, we have more air pollution, but I love the Great Lakes, particularly Lake Erie. B.C. is a beautiful province, but I couldn't stand the steady rain when I lived in Vancouver. Couldn't stand the winters in Manitoba either. Isn't Canada amazing? Where else can you find such incredible diversity, from the Arctic tundra to the Carolinian forests of southern Ontario and everything in between.

The Mound of Sound said...

I hear you on all that LMA. Born on the Detroit River, raised on Lake St. Clair and lived on Lake Huron.

A lot of folks can't bear our rainy winters. It can take a few years to acclimate.

Winters in Manitoba, well they're something else. Maybe that's what makes Manitobans the friendliest, most generous people in Canada.

Still, 30+ years in BC and you can't convince me there's anything remotely as beautiful in this whole country.