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CRTC Hearings: Radio Canada demands fewer restrictions to compete with web giants

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Tony Vaughn
Tony Vaughn
"Total creator. Evil zombie fan. Food evangelist. Alcohol practitioner. Web aficionado. Passionate beer advocate."

Its audience swears by the internet, constantly bombarded with fake news, and demands a correction of systemic racism. Even the francophone audiences, previously protected by linguistic isolation, are now bilingual and drink from American soap operas on foreign platforms. In the near future filmed by Radio Canada in the context of its hearings before the Canadian Radio, Television and Communications Commission (CRTC), the only salvation for the Coronavirus is to loosen its regulatory restrictions.

“Do we really want public broadcasting that only targets a portion of the population, on platforms in decline?” Asks CBC / Radio-Canada Chair CBC / Radio-Canada, who appeared around Monday to five CRTC commissioners as part of the first hearings on renewing public broadcasting licenses For nearly nine years.

Its appeal boils down to one thing: for greater flexibility, the broadcaster’s digital programs should be “counted” in calculating the minimum number of hours of content for specific categories (news, youth, etc.). This, while CBC / Radio-Canada does not acknowledge any authority of CRTC over its virtual platforms, some stakeholders lament.

For example, Radio Canada suggests that making a program of national interest available on, or CBC Gem in English, could replace its commitment to broadcast it on prime time, a requirement of CRTC at present.

Fort against Netflix

According to Catherine Tate, these virtual platforms, along with others like TVA +, Crave, and Club illico, represent “our best defense against giants like Netflix, Apple, Disney and Amazon.” It argues that Canada is a world leader in podcasting, thanks to apps developed by OHdio and his English-speaking cousin, CBC Listen.

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The same enthusiasm surrounds the production of journalism on the web and social media, as evidenced by the creation, in 2017 of Rad, a band that covers news for digital platforms without compromising the press bases. Thanks to Rad, “Radio Canada’s brand remained relevant” to young people, goes so far as to say Vice President of French Services, Michel Bessonette. We are trying to find a way not to escape from a generation. “

Do we really want public broadcasting that targets only a portion of the population, and on platforms that are in decline?

In response to a question from CRTC President Ian Scott about the fact that offers a (additional) paid service, forcing taxpayers to pay a second time for that content, while English speakers have free access to CBC Gem, Katherine Tate mentioned the need. To deepen the relationship with [ses] Viewers. ”The blended funding model, which combines $ 1.2 billion in public subsidies and nearly $ 500 million in advertising, subscriptions, or other revenue, will cause Radio Canada to rely on this flow of money to produce its content.

Radio Canada wants credit for its digital production, but at the same time [ses dirigeants] Insist that CRTC has no right to regulate digital activity. It’s a tough position to defend, ”laments Danielle Bernard, general manager of pressure group Les Amis de la Broading, who will present a very important briefing on Crown in the context of these hearings.

According to him, CRTC could theoretically claim authority over CBC / Radio Canada digital activities on the web. A Trudeau Government Bill, C-10, was introduced this fall to illustrate this aspect.

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Moreover, the president and CEO of CBC / Radio-Canada points to parliamentarians all anticipated criticism of other days of hearings about Radio Canada’s mandate and funding. “During the next few days, many stakeholders want to take advantage of this hearing to discuss the mandate and funding model of the public broadcaster. These are matters of parliament and are related to the broadcasting law, which is a law currently under review.”Me It was in his opening letter.

During the 13 days of the hearings, which extend to 27 January, 70 interlocutors must speak. Despite pending adoption of the new broadcast law, CRTC is expected to renew nearly 100 television and radio licenses for public broadcasting for a period of five years.

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