I recently attended the annual convention of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB). An interesting experience. On one hand, I was there representing the Community Radio Fund of Canada. It is important for the Fund to forge new funding partnerships with the private sector. But at the same time, I was taken aback by the notion that broadcasters are worried about not making as much profit as they are used to. Don’t get me wrong. I actually respect the notion that everyone has the right to make profit (but not to the detriment or others outside of healthy competition or through the exploitation of others). It’s just that hearing these concepts and arguments almost seemed comical to me given my knowledge and experience with the community radio sector. Community-oriented stations do so much with so few resources and with mostly all volunteers (some stations have some/all volunteer staff).
It’s also interesting for me that the Fund that I now work for is in a position of counting on those private broadcasting revenues for some of its funding. But one good thing I came away with from the convention was that while there are some broadcasters who contribute to their communities and community media because there is an obligation to do so, there are some broadcasters that participate in all things community because it is part of who they are. They do it because they are helping others and it makes them feel good. It was nice to see the CAB give out awards to a few of these individuals, and it was nice to see that it was not focused on monetary contributions.
One of the hot topics of conversation was the release of BDU-related policy (Broadcasting Distribution Undertakings). While it is mostly relevant to the private sector, there is the discussion of the importance of local programming. As well, it is always good to take note of what kinds of decisions and policy statements (and any noted dissensions that are posted at the end of the public notice).
From the CRTC:
OTTAWA-GATINEAU — The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today introduced new policies to prepare the Canadian broadcasting industry for the transition to a fully digital environment. In developing these policies, the Commission has simplified its regulation in order to foster a more coherent and well-calibrated broadcasting system.
And note the accompanying public notices:
Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2008-102: Notice of consultation – Call for comments on a proposed framework for the sale of commercial advertising in the local availabilities of non-Canadian services
Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2008-103: Notice of consultation – Proposed conditions of licence for competitive Canadian specialty services operating in the genres of mainstream sports and mainstream national news
(Links updated November 2013)