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Old May 12th, 2009, 10:35 AM   #1
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Thumbs up Save Local TV Petition

I am not sure if this has been posted. There is an online petition stating:

"To: The Hon. James Moore, Minister of Heritage
I agree that cable and satellite companies should pay for the signals they distribute.

Sincerely,"

located here:

HELP SAVE LOCAL TELEVISION Petition

The local stations have been savaged in the downturn as advertising dollars dry up, yet have been providing free content to the cable companies. Here in Barrie, the local station does an excellent job covering the area but we have seen where they had to cancel their own morning show.

I just don't think that all of the content should originate from "The Centre of the Universe".
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Old May 12th, 2009, 10:42 AM   #2
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I wish that the petition was more clear on what it means. The cable companies actually extend the reach of the local stations and provide the signal locally to most subscribers. If CKVR were to suddenly charge for its signal and the cable company dropped the station from its line-up or moved it to a pay tier, would CKVR be better off?
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Old May 12th, 2009, 11:02 AM   #3
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I honestly don't know.

What I do see, not just in this venue, but in many business venues, is a continuing trend to centralization, larger entities and marginalization of anything outside of major centres. Being originally from Northern Ontario, I am really sensitive to this.

I still talk to people up north on a regular basis. They are watching their economy being dismantled and really they have very little voice as it is. People seem to be willing to listen to GM workers in Oshawa, near the centre of the universe, but not paper workers in Thunder Bay, Iroquois Falls, Nipigon or Dryden.

The demise of local TV stations, which is happening, erases another voice.

I am seeing that the great divide in Canada is not French/English, or East/West but rather urban/rural with rural taking a pretty good hit in terms of government service, voice, economic activity. that voice is being ignored now and I would hate to see it get worse.
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Old May 12th, 2009, 11:13 AM   #4
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Lichen: I'm saying that I don't know if signing the petition makes it any better for them. I love local television, but once CKVR became the "A Channel" I gave up all hope. The programming is designed to make the station indistinguishable from all other stations by showing the same re-runs as they do. It's no wonder that revenue is down, because the station now looks like every other station. I just catalogued some old VHS tapes I had recorded 20 years ago, and CKVR was a really distinct entity with local news, morning shows and other local programming--plus its famous late-night retro line-up.

I'm no longer sure if the local programs are being axed because they can't afford to produce them, or because the beancounters have decided that it's cheaper to pick up a re-run or some syndicated tripe. If the cable companies paid CKVR to carry its signal, what would they now be paying for? Re-runs of the A-Team? If CKVR received the money, would it bring back the local shows, or just declare a tidy profit from a new revenue stream while increasing the cost of cable?
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Old May 12th, 2009, 11:41 AM   #5
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Hi MacFury,

All honest comments/questions.

When I moved to Barrie in 1998 CKVR was joke. There was a conscious decision in 2001 or 2002 to do somethking. Yes you did end up with some strange content ( I personally liked Buffy the Vampire Slayer"), but they also put a ton of money into their local area news coverage, enough so that they did win a string of international awards for it.

In the morning they did pull in Breakfast Television from Toronto (which was a good change from re-running the last night's news).

Last year when the Chum network and A Channels were purchased, it and the other A channels got hived off to CTV-Globe-Telemedia (I think). They kept the local coverage and then added their own morning show. This show got cut early this winter and I believe that funding was the issue. So there at least appears to be a case that these people have tried to do good things and have been stopped due to lack of revenue.

Right now, the cable companies can offer the 500 channel universe without paying for it. The question comes down to who benefits, the cable company or the TV station. It is debatable. Perhaps a pay model would accomplish several things:

Pay for excellence as it happens
Support local programming
Reward those channels with content
Inspire those channels without to make some

You might go down to say a 120 channel universe, but perhaps with better programming.
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Old May 12th, 2009, 12:02 PM   #6
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Lichen: At one point there were requirements to run a certain amount of local programming in order to earn license renewal. But, if all you're doing is acting as a repeater station for all of the various "A Channels" then what makes your station local?

I always thought that CKVR did a good job with its local programming. Even when it ran portions of CITY's Breakfast Television it added well-produced segments of its own. It would be sad to think that local residents simply weren't watching any more, leading advertisers to bail as well. Perhaps that's the case.

I don't believe the cable companies have a choice about which local channels they provide. They are carrying CKVR as a requirement of service. If all stations began to charge for their signals I could imagine a sudden move to the pay-per-channel system you suggested, a move that might even kill off CKVR, which probably relies on cable to provide its signal--for free--to most area homes.
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Old May 12th, 2009, 12:25 PM   #7
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They pumped tons of money into "local news" because that was mandated by the CRTC, not because people might actually watch local news or whatever.

The whole CHUM takeover demonstrates that CHUM doesn't know broadcasting, just look at how far CITY-TV has declined since they gave Moses Znaimer the boot. Sure, some stuff they tried sucked - but a lot of it was pretty cool. Now it is all corporate, showing stuff that one can just watch on any American station. A Channel was an attempt to bring CITY-TV coolness to other markets, but the corporates FAILED. CHUM is so bad that CHUM failed as well, when they abandoned their broadcasting facilities.

The whole industry is in turmoil. Not only do we have access to a crazy number of channels, or digital radio - but our newfound viewing habits confound broadcasters. There have been other moves, like the move in the US to abandon broadcasting altogether, so in an effort to cram more channels in for more "broadcasters", it has watered down advertising and revenues, and has served to cater to the quirks of smaller viewing audiences - a model that the industry has not figured out how to deal with.

It's like this, in the ""old days", we had three major networks south of the border - and they were elephants who were slugging it out on an hour by hour basis. But now, their whole market share is gone. The numbers show it - shows that now draw 1.5 million are "successful" while twenty years ago, they would have been canned in a New York minute. Same thing with radio - audiences are smaller because of a proliferation of media to select from. It used to be a battle between AM and FM, now it's digital internet radio, digital satellite radio, podcasting, and in some selected cases, even SCA which caters to "ethnic" tastes that the battle is spread across.

I think the whole "cable should pay" is a farce, since clearly the broadcasters entirely benefit from their signal, a signal that they entire send out over the air for free, and is then distributed to many places and to a greater audience than if the broadcasters have had to do it themselves.

I think the cash flow problem is caused by years of levered mergers, where the broadcasters were climbing all over each other in an orgy of easy credit empire building. Now that easy credit dried up, and the slumping market share numbers remain unattractive to investors, it is nothing more than Capitalism at work. Any "fees" that end up being charged to the cable companies will simply be passed on to the customers, and since we can not opt out or select the channels we want - we will be held hostage, forced to pay for the crud that the CBC shovels out the door, or to pay for stations like CKVR to rebroadcast stuff that I would just pick up for free off the air from Buffalo.

I can't imagine being able to get "better programming", there are a lot of very good shows on these days, but generally, they just aren't on the Networks. Stuff like Rescue Me, they'd never be allowed to put something cool like that on regular TV...
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Old May 12th, 2009, 02:00 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lichen Software View Post
I am seeing that the great divide in Canada is not French/English, or East/West but rather urban/rural with rural taking a pretty good hit in terms of government service, voice, economic activity. that voice is being ignored now and I would hate to see it get worse.
I think that's very true, but I don't know if it's going to get any better. Per the last census, 64% of the Canadian population lives in one of the top 20 urban centres (Toronto thru St. John's). Given how society operates these days, by the numbers (whether dollars or votes), it's to be expected that slowly the rural areas are going to be squeezed out. In fact, I think a lot of service providers from all sectors would probably choose not to serve rural areas if they could. Is it fair? I don't know. On the one hand, it's not really fair to people in those areas who don't deserve to live in what could become a 3rd world area in a 1st world country. On the other hand, is it fair to have urban dwellers subsidising rural areas? Isn't it just democracy, that if more people live in cities, you have to cater to them? I don't know, but I think as time passes, the issue will come up a lot.
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Old May 12th, 2009, 02:44 PM   #9
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Going Off Topic

Quote:
Originally Posted by Manatus View Post
I think that's very true, but I don't know if it's going to get any better. Per the last census, 64% of the Canadian population lives in one of the top 20 urban centres (Toronto thru St. John's). Given how society operates these days, by the numbers (whether dollars or votes), it's to be expected that slowly the rural areas are going to be squeezed out. In fact, I think a lot of service providers from all sectors would probably choose not to serve rural areas if they could. Is it fair? I don't know. On the one hand, it's not really fair to people in those areas who don't deserve to live in what could become a 3rd world area in a 1st world country. On the other hand, is it fair to have urban dwellers subsidising rural areas? Isn't it just democracy, that if more people live in cities, you have to cater to them? I don't know, but I think as time passes, the issue will come up a lot.
Actually, rural areas are not subsidized by urban areas but rather the opposite. Northern Ontario has two major exports - money to both corporations and governments seated elsewhere and people. During the '30s Northern Ontario tax revenue was what kept Ontario from going bankrupt. If this recession takes a further down turn will will do the same again.

In addition to this there is an active, over many governments, discouragement of economic growth in Northern Ontario. Over 90% of the land is held by the province, the right to which are doled out to corporate friends in the form of logging rights. Estate in land however is denied and hence, although you have enough lakes of good quality to replace the Muskokas many times over, don't you dare try to buy a cottage lot. Don't try to put up a windmill on crown land, because you will have to deal with MNR - The people with more power than cops (These people can walk into your home at any time with no warrant and no notice).

In terms of catering to people - If I am a citizen of Ontario I expect the same services regardless of where I am. It is not coincidence that the highest life expectancy in Ontario is in York Region and the lowest is in native communities. As you travel Ontario now you go from first world south of the Severn River to Second World between the Severn River and the top end of HIghway 11 and Third World north of Highway #11.

Here are examples of being catered to in Northern Ontario:

Two years ago, on a Saturday, my mother-in-law fell and broke her arm. She went to the local Hospital in Iroquois Falls,45 miles north east of Timmins. She was told that no one there could set her arm And no one would be available in Timmins to set her arm, but that if she wanted to drive to Sault Ste. Marie, a mere 10 hours away, some one would set her arm before Monday. She would have been closer to drive here to Barrie.

Several years before that, my father-in-law came down with prostate cancer. The nearest care centre was in Sudbury, five hours away. He ended up driving there himself for treatments and checkups at his expense and driving himself home after his operation. Meanwhile, oh gosh, there was a shortage of treatment available in Southern Ontario so some poor southerners were also sent to Sudbury - five hours away - All expenses paid.

Finally ( I promise to end my rant), In Ontario and in Canada as a whole, use it or lose it. If you want ownership of that territory you call Canada, you had better occupy it. You encourage policies that spread people out not policies that concentrate them in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. People up north are so fed up they want out of Ontario. They figure that if they kept the tax dollars being sent South, they would be far better off.


Overt concentration in cities as has happened over the last forty years is in the long run is bad both economically and strategically for the country as a whole. It is bad for the inhabitants as it creates artifically low wages and artificial scarcity of real estate and hence high prices.

I'll stop now.
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Old May 12th, 2009, 02:50 PM   #10
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Overt concentration in cities as has happened over the last forty years is in the long run is bad both economically and strategically for the country as a whole. It is bad for the inhabitants as it creates artifically low wages and artificial scarcity of real estate and hence high prices..
I agree. The religion of urban superiority is a tired old saw. I live in a city out of choice, but see nothing inherently superior about it. It's mostly the dream of politicians to cram everyone into tight little areas where they can easily be made into clients of the government.
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