ARCHIVED - Public Notice CRTC 2001-88

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Public Notice CRTC 2001-88

Ottawa, 2 August 2001

Representation of cultural diversity on television - Creation of an industry/community task force 

The Commission calls upon the Canadian Association of Broadcasters to prepare an action plan for the creation of a task force. The task force, to consist of representatives of the broadcasting industry and community groups, will be responsible for examining, and finding ways to improve, the representation of Canada's cultural diversity on television.



In Public Notice CRTC 1999-97 Building on Success: A policy statement for Canadian Television (the TV policy), the Commission emphasized that television programming should reflect the cultural diversity of Canadians. The Commission stated that it ".will expect all conventional television licensees (at licensing or licence renewal), to make specific commitments to initiatives designed to ensure that they contribute to a system that more accurately reflects the presence of cultural and racial minorities and Aboriginal peoples in the communities they serve. Licensees are expected to ensure that the on-screen portrayal of all minority groups is accurate, fair and non-stereotypical."


The Commission added that it would support the creation of ".a task force involving broadcasters, community representatives and, perhaps, producers, that could identify "best practices", sponsor research, help to define the issues and present practical solutions for the industry."


Canadian society is increasingly becoming racially and culturally diverse. Census data presented in the Department of Canadian Heritage's 12th Annual Report on the Operation of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act, 1999-2000 show that the number of those counting themselves among Canada's many racial minorities has doubled in ten years. Projections suggest that, by the year 2006, roughly one in six Canadians will be a member of a visible minority group. Centres such as Edmonton, Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg and Ottawa are home to growing Aboriginal communities and increasing ethnic and racial diversity. Ethnic and racial minorities and Aboriginal groups, taken together, now account for at least 30% of the population in each of Vancouver and Montréal. In Toronto these groups compose more than 50% of the population.


If mainstream television is to reflect the true diversity of Canadian society, it must take into account the racial and multicultural make-up of its markets, including their Aboriginal components. Accordingly, at the public hearings held in the spring of this year to consider applications for the renewal of the television licences of TVA, CTV and CanWest Global, the Commission explored the approaches proposed by these large broadcasting groups to improve the reflection of cultural diversity. Specifically, the Commission discussed the areas of corporate accountability, programming (news and non-news) practices, and community involvement, as they relate to the goal of ensuring that the diversity of Canadian society is reflected fairly and consistently in the programming that the licensees present.


These discussions brought forth from CTV and CanWest Global three major commitments, namely that they would each:

· provide the Commission with a clear strategy on cultural diversity, in the form of a plan for the next licence term;

· provide annual reports on their progress toward achieving the goals set out in their respective plans; and,

· participate in, and financially support, an industry/community task force on cultural diversity that will conduct research and define best practices for the industry.


The Commission's expectations regarding these commitments are addressed in today's Decisions CRTC 2001-457 and 2001-458 dealing with the licence renewal of the various television undertakings owned by CTV and CanWest Global. Similarly, the Commission's expectations with respect to TVA have been addressed in Decision CRTC 2001-385 dated 5 July 2001. The Commission also stated its expectation that the licensees would participate in, and financially support, the task force mentioned above. Details concerning this broader industry initiative are discussed further below.

Task force


The task force will consist of industry and community representatives. It will sponsor research, identify "best practices", and help define the issues and present practical solutions.


The Commission expects the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB), acting on behalf of the broadcasting industry, to prepare an action plan that would include details concerning the following:

· establishment of a governing body representative of all television broadcasters, including English-language, French-language and ethnic broadcasters, conventional and specialty broadcasters, producers, and interested community groups and organizations whose focus and activities promote representation of Canada's multicultural makeup and Aboriginal reality;

· development of a research strategy that will provide effective baseline data from which the industry and the Commission can measure the industry's progress to improve representation; and,

· development of a strategy for identifying "best practices" for the industry.

Governing body


The Commission emphasizes the importance it places on industry and community organizations working together to achieve the above mentioned objectives. At the 17 April 2001 public hearing of the CTV and CanWest Global renewal applications, the Commission heard interventions by the Pro Canada Committee of Winnipeg, the Communications and Diversity Network, and Montréal's Centre for Research and Action on Race Relations. These parties were supportive of an industry-wide task force and indicated a willingness to participate in the process.



The Commission considers that research to establish the current state of on-screen presence and portrayal of Aboriginal, ethnic and racial minority cultures should be a high priority of the proposed industry/community task force. Accurate baseline data will make it possible for the industry and the Commission to evaluate progress in the fulfilment of objectives.


The Commission therefore expects the CAB to submit, as part of its action plan, a research strategy and timeline for obtaining qualitative and quantitative baseline data on the state of representation (presence and portrayal; that is, who we see and what we see) on Canadian television for both conventional and specialty television, in both English- and French-language markets. The Commission considers it essential that all forms of programming be examined, including news and non-news programming, both locally and nationally.

Best practices


The term "best practices" refers to the means by which broadcasters can achieve the overall objective of ensuring that their services accurately reflect the presence and portrayal of the diverse groups they serve. These can include practical solutions to specific problems as well as guiding principles.


The Commission considers that best practices with respect to corporate accountability, programming (news and non-news) and community involvement will help develop an environment that promotes fair and consistent reflection of cultural diversity in the Canadian broadcasting system. The Commission also considers that an important on-going role of the task force will be to collect examples of best practices and to communicate these to individual licensees.



The Commission commends CTV and CanWest Global for their commitments to provide financial support for the proposed industry-wide and community task force. It also notes the willingness of other broadcasters to participate in such an initiative.


The Commission expects the CAB to submit an action plan, by no later than 31 December 2001, containing details regarding each of the various elements set out above.


The Commission considers that an industry/community task force will serve to gather considerable knowledge concerning the representation of cultural diversity in the media. While the challenges might well be different for radio, the Commission invites the task force to examine how best to improve the representation of cultural diversity in radio programming, as it considers appropriate to do so.

Secretary General

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Date Modified: 2001-08-01

Date modified: