ARCHIVED -  Public Notice CRTC 1991-22

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Public Notice

Ottawa, 15 February 1991
Public Notice CRTC 1991-22
Related Documents:
Public Notices CRTC 1984-94 dated 15 April 1984, 1985-58 dated 20 March 1985, 1986-177 dated 23 July 1986, 1989-27 dated 6 April 1989 and Circular No. 363 dated 13 July 1989.
In Public Notice CRTC 1990-95 dated 18 October 1990, the Commission issued for public comment a proposed policy for local television programming. This proposal grew out of the Commission's ongoing review of its regulations and policies with respect to Canadian programming.
The Commission received a total of 24 submissions in response to the public notice. The majority of comments (16) were submitted by licensees or their associations and all but one expressed strong support for the proposed policy. Baton Broadcasting Inc. was not in favour of the Commission's proposal that licensees must fulfil quantitative commitments accepted as benefits of ownership transactions with respect to categories of local programming. The Children's Broadcast Institute and Primedia Productions Ltd. also expressed support. The Canadian Association of the Deaf requested that captioning be made an obligation for all local programming. Opposing the proposed policy were: ACTRA (national and Saskatchewan branch); NABET and its counterpart in Quebec, SNTC; the employee's union of CFCM-CKMI-TV (Québec); the producers' association of Télé-Capitale; the Association Coopérative d'Économie Familiale (ACEF); and the Regional Municipality of Jacques-Cartier. ACTRA, NABET and SNTC favoured strict quantitative commitments for local non-news programming in order to ensure employment opportunities. All of the submissions received from within the province of Quebec expressed concern that, without quantitative requirements, most non-news programming would originate from Montréal. Six of the comments suggested that assessment of the performance of broadcasters under the new policy would be too subjective. Two requested that "local programming" be defined.
The Commission has carefully considered all of the comments received, particularly those which opposed the proposed policy, and has concluded that the anticipated benefits to the Canadian broadcasting system, the production industry, and the creative community warrant confirmation of the policy, essentially as proposed.
With respect to programming commitments by program category, accepted as benefits in an ownership transaction, the Commission will expect licensees to fulfil these obligations without variance within the time frame set out in the licensing decisions. Since most of the individual station licences that were renewed a little more than a year ago contained expectations or conditions of licence with respect to captioning, the Commission considers that the appropriate time to evaluate and review this matter will be at the time of licence renewal.
It is the statutory obligation of all broadcasters to provide programming of high standard, using predominantly Canadian creative and other resources. It follows, therefore, that the central objective for all television broadcasters must be participation in the production and distribution of Canadian programming. As a consequence, the Commission's regulations require all television licensees to achieve certain minimum quantitative requirements with respect to Canadian programs.
While each television licensee must ensure that it meets the Canadian content requirements set out in the regulations, it also has a special responsibility to serve the public residing within the particular geographic area it is licensed to serve. Licensees should do so through programs directed towards local concerns as well as through the provision of programs of regional, national or international interest.
This concept of local reflection is founded on the principle that the right to use the public airwaves entails a responsibility to those members of the Canadian public resident in a licensee's service area. The Commission, therefore, will continue to evaluate how television licensees meet the needs and reflect the interests of their local audiences.
The Commission recognizes that, in order for the broadcasting system as a whole to produce a critical mass of attractive Canadian programming, whether designed for local, regional or national audiences, broadcasters require flexibility to pool resources through co-operative ventures, co-productions and other imaginative partnership arrangements. Canadian broadcasters, producers, investors and funding agencies need to co-operate, in the most effective and efficient manner possible, to produce high quality programming, particularly entertainment programming.
Broadcasters can play a variety of roles in contributing to quality Canadian programming. Some licensees, on their own or with local independent producers, are capable of producing excellent programming in various categories to meet community needs. Others can best make use of their resources and the talent present in their communities by producing programs in co-operation with other broadcasters. The Commission encourages each licensee to undertake as much original programming as its circumstances permit. In addition, the Commission recognizes that the acquisition of good Canadian programming contributes to the Canadian broadcasting system. A strong domestic market will, in turn, be a great advantage to the Canadian production industry.
As stated above, reflecting local communities and meeting the needs of local audiences remains the particular responsibility of each television licensee. The Commission will continue to require applicants for television licences to describe how their program schedules reflect the needs and concerns of the communities they serve. At renewal, licensees will be evaluated on how successfully local needs have been met. In making this evaluation the Commission will take into account the comments of individual viewers and representative community groups. Should the Commission determine that licensees have failed to respond to legitimate community needs, appropriate action - including precise conditions of licence - may be taken on a case-by-case basis.
With this proposed new emphasis on licensees' overall performance with respect to local reflection, the Commission no longer requires television licensees to make quantitative commitments to local programming in categories other than news. Consequently, the definitions of a local program set out in Public Notices CRTC 1985-58, 1986-177 and 1989-27 will no longer apply as of 1 September 1991, the implementation date of this policy.
The Commission reiterates that the changes set out in this public notice do not apply to any quantitative programming commitments accepted by the Commission as benefits in relation to an ownership transaction. In such cases, the Commission will continue to define a local program according to the criteria set out in Public Notice CRTC 1989-27.
Changes regarding the reporting requirements of television licensees are set out in the Appendix to this Public Notice.
With regard to locally-based creative talent, the Commission continues to expect licensees to search out and develop talented individuals such as performers, writers, directors and producers. In some cases, these individuals may be showcased in programs produced by the station or by local independent producers. In other circumstances, the local broadcaster may choose to develop and promote local talent in co-operation with other broadcasters, networks or specialty programming services. However if this responsibility is discharged, the Commission will continue to expect local licensees to demonstrate that they actively develop, support and reflect local talent in as many ways as possible.
The Commission is confident that this new approach to local programming will benefit the public, the broadcasting system, the production industry and the creative community. This policy enunciates a renewed commitment to local reflection, without artificial quantitative measures in non-news programming. The Commission is satisfied that the industry will have more flexibility to provide Canadians with a wide range of Canadian programming of the highest possible quality.
Allan J. Darling
Secretary General
This policy will come into effect on 1 September 1991. As of that date, the definitions of a local program found in Public Notices CRTC 1985-58, 1986-177 and 1989-27 will no longer apply, except in regard to commitments already accepted by the Commission as benefits of an ownership transaction.
The Commission requires licensees to meet their minimum quantitative commitments in respect of the average, weekly hours of original Category 1 (news) programming as recorded on the most recent Schedule I on file with the Commission.
The Commission expects all licensees to ensure that the programming they offer reflects the varied needs and concerns of the communities they serve, as generally described in their most recent licence renewal application and consistent with the principles set out in this policy.
2.Promise of Performance
The Commission will issue revised application forms reflecting this policy.
Applicants for licence renewal will be required to outline their plans for Canadian programming reflecting the particular needs of their communities. Such programming may be produced or acquired by the licensee. Applicants will also be required to outline their plans for co-operative programming and programs co-produced with Canadian independent producers.
In a revised Question 11 of Part II of the application for a new television licence or for the renewal of such licence, applicants will be required to commit to a minimum average weekly quantity of station-produced news programming (Category 1).
3.Program Logs and Annual Returns
Applicable changes will be made as required.

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