ARCHIVED -  Public Notice CRTC 1985-58

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Public Notice

Ottawa, 20 March 1985
Public Notice CRTC 1985-58
Introducing Flexibility into the Content of Local Television Programming
The programming provided by television stations is generally from two sources: it is either produced by the stations themselves and generally intended for local audiences; or it acquired from networks, syndicated sources or through exchanges with other stations.
Most of Canada's private television stations were granted their original licences in large measure on the basis of their commitments to provide their communities with relevant local programs. Over the years, the Commission has continued to reiterate the importance it attaches to the broadcasters' responsibilities to local program production, and this is reflected in the fact that television licensees are required to set out in detail their commitments to local programming in their Promises of Performance.
The vast majority of local programs produced by Canadian television stations are in the news and public affairs category; all but the small est stations also provide some form of general interest, information-oriented programming, in a magazine other similar format, covering events of local and regional interest.
In addition, a number of stations provide occasional or weekly entertainment programs, including variety and children's programs, dramas, and programs featuring local and regional talent.
Several licensees have recently pointed out that local information programming requirements, while essential in ensuring a local news and public affairs service, take up so much of a station's program production budget, that other desirable but more expensive types of programs, drama particularly, are rarely produced at the local level.
Individual stations generally have difficulty financing and assembling the necessary components of a drama, variety feature or other program requiring more expensive production, on more than an occasional basis. Co-operative productions by several broadcasters, however, involving a sharing of costs and production personnel, could result in a greater number of programs of higher quality which are attractive enough to compete for viewers' attention and which could be rescheduled in more appropriate viewing periods.
Representations were made to the Commission to permit such co-operative productions of regional or local interest to qualify for purposes of meeting a licensee's commitment to local programming with respect to its Promise of Performance.
With a view to providing more flexibility in the concept of what may qualify as a local program, the Commission announces that, effective immediately, it will consider as "local" any program that is produced, such a co-operative basis, provided the program responds to the needs and interests of the audiences the communities or regions served by the co-operating licensees. Each participating station will be permitted to count as local any program that is produced on this co-operative basis, and to apply that program against its Promise of Performance commitment. The Commission expects, however, that each station will spend at least as much money in the aggregate on the co-operative productions as it would have spent on the purely local programs they will replace. The Commission is confident that this broader approach to local programming will provide significant benefits to the stations, their audiences and to local artists.
In order to ensure that broadcasters continue to meet both their Canadian content requirements and their obligations to their local audiences, this policy will be subject to the following provisions:
1. To safeguard all local information-oriented programs, particularly news and public affairs, licensees will be expected at least to maintain their present level of commitment with regard to these programs;
2. Licensees will also be expected maintain their present commitments to purely local programming as set out in their Promise of Performance, both in terms of hours of programming per week and terms of expenses relating to program productions;
3. Participating television licensees should advise the Commission by letter of the broadcast of such co-operative productions. This will enable the Commission to qualify them as local productions. Should the number of co-operative productions increase, the Commission may propose a simpler procedure after consultation with broadcasters.
The Commission encourages licensees to explore the full range of cooperative programming that may be possible under this more flexible policy approach, particularly in the area of entertainment programs of local or regional interest, and may wish to discuss with licensees at licence renewal time the results of this new incentive for the production of high quality entertainment programming.
Fernand Bélisle Secretary General

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