To ensure that Canadians continue to have access to quality local and community programming that meets their needs, the CRTC adopted a policy framework for local and community television that was published in June 2016. The policy framework covers two broad areas: community television and local programming.
Policies regulating community television services are designed to ensure that community programing adequately reflects the population, provides Canadians with fair access to the broadcasting system as a whole and is accessible on the most efficient platforms.
Community television in Canada is funded, for the most part, by broadcasting distribution undertakings (BDUs). Most community television services are operated by cable companies while others are independently operated over-the-air or digitally. Canadian BDUs are required to contribute 5% of their previous year's gross revenues to Canadian programming and some of that amount may be spent on community programming.
While the new policy recognizes that community television services are important for achieving the overall objectives of the Broadcasting Act, it permits a more flexible approach to the funding of local content that allows BDUs to re-allocate from the funding of community programming to the production of local news.
To maintain support for the production of community programming, the CRTC focused its regulatory approach to ensure that a minimum amount of contributions made by BDUs to community television funds programming rather than overhead expenditures. At the same time, the CRTC clarified definitions on what constitutes a community program and included measures to ensure that local community input is taken into account in programming decisions.
The new policy also recognizes the existence of regional disparities. Certain BDUs that serve metropolitan markets (Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver) are permitted to direct their allowable local expression contribution to community programming in other markets and/or to designate local television stations for the production of local news. Vertically integrated groups are responsible for gauging the needs of their subscribers and viewers before deciding where and how to spend all or part of their allowable contribution to local expression, depending on whether the market served by the BDU is metropolitan or non-metropolitan.
To preserve the local news and information ecosystem that is important for the full democratic participation of Canadian citizens, the new policy requires that all local programming be locally relevant, while all local news be locally reflective. A program is considered locally relevant if it is of interest to the community or market served. News programming is considered locally reflective if it shows footage and addresses issues related to the market served and it is produced by or specifically for the station.
The policy ensures that Canadians can continue to access, through conventional television stations (available on the basic service of BDUs), as well as by other means, locally produced programming that is relevant to their market.
The policy requires that all conventional television stations broadcast a minimum level of locally reflective news and information. The stations must also allocate a percentage of their previous year's revenues to such programming. The new policy also permits BDUs to devote part of their required 5% Canadian programming contribution to the production of local news and information on local conventional television stations.
To support the production of locally reflective news and information by smaller independently owned television stations, the CRTC also created the Independent Local News Fund (ILNF) as part of the new policy. The ILNF is funded by BDUs through part of their 5% contribution to Canadian programming.
In 2018, BDUs contributed a total of approximately USD 122 million (CAD 161.1 million) to local expression:
* approximately USD 84 million (CAD 110.8 million) was provided to licensees' own community channels;
* approximately USD 36.1 million (CAD 47.7 million) was provided to locally reflective news programming; and
* approximately USD 2 million (CAD 2.6 million) was provided to community programming in other markets served by the licensee.
Independently owned stations received approximately USD 16.5 million (CAD 21.7 million) from the ILNF.
Most BDUs are required to make an annual contribution of 5% of its previous year's gross revenues to the creation and production of Canadian programming. Of this amount, cable companies must contribute a maximum of 1.5% to local expression while satellite companies must contribute a maximum of 0.6% to local news.
BDUs must contribute 0.3% of their 5% contribution to Canadian programming from the previous year's broadcast revenues to the ILNF.
|Name of partner||Type of entity|
Canadian Association of Broadcasters