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My 2 Sense

Broadcast Versus Cable TV


The Media Pissing Match

November 16, 2010
Broadcast vs Cable Are you as tired of the constant bashing the cable companies and the networks are giving each other?

There is one missing party to this issue and that is US, the consumers. Who speaks for us?

Both the cable companies and the networks say they speak for us and that their position is make sure we are getting fair value for our money. Do you actually believe that? I know I don't. And of course the CRTC is supposed to represent us, but hey....its government. Need I say more?


A little background if you please.

TV Stations and Networks

With the introduction of TV in Canada in 1953, there flagship CBC owned stations were built. However independently owned stations opened across the country but were compelled to be CBC affiliates. In 1960 this was expanded when the CTV network came on line.

Since that time, and up until recently, owning a television broadcasting station was a license to print money. Seriously, every single station owner became very very wealthy from broadcasting. So did owners of radio stations. TV advertising revenues were huge.

In the early days, TV producers created and sold 39 episodes a year to the networks to air and to syndicators to sell to the independents for airing. There was only the 13 week summer "season" that aired reruns.

By 1975 there were only two "seasons," fall and spring, with reruns over Christmas and from June until September.

Now production and airing have been reduced to 13 new episodes a year with 39 weeks of reruns.

So much for the networks' commitment to the consumer.

Cable Companies

In the beginning there was competition, well sort of. Depending on which municipality you lived in you either got Shaw or Rogers as your cable provider. Then they decided to simply split up the country so that one company or the other owned the monopoly in each province.

Does anyone recall the big selling point that was used to induce us to sign up for cable? No commercials! And how long did that last?

And now....the cable companies that we PAY for service barrage us with paid commercials as well. Double dipping by the cable companies don't you think? And their rates have skyrocketed 25% in the last two years.

For what? The comedy channel is running 50-year-old "I Love Lucy" episodes and 15-year-old "Just For Laughs" shows. The same is true of every other cable channel. Endless reruns, endless weekly repetition of shows.

And movies.....God....movies that they cycle through all the different channels over and over and over again. The logic for running a particular movie on a particular channel is ludicrous. If there is a tree in the background of a movie, that means its definitely right for Home & Garden TV. If someone says 'omigod' in the dialogue of a movie, then it's appropriate for Vision TV. Some movies they can find justification for showing on every channel...and they do. Over and over and over again.

So much for cable company commitment to the consumer.

The CRTC

Ah the bureaucrats. Ya gotta love them. Like politicians they think they know exactly what we the people want, deserve and should have. They are there to protect us. Have they?

When new TV stations went online the CRTC made them commit to producing a certain number of hours of original local programming or they would lose their license. The only station I'm aware of that not only fulfilled that obligation and even exceeded it was ITV in Edmonton. But most stations quietly reneged on their commitments and has the CRTC ever once taken away a station's license? Nope.

The CRTC is supposed to regulate what we pay for cable for our protection. Yeah right. Have they ever refused a rate increase requested by the cable companies? I don't know for sure, but it certainly doesn't look like it.

Independent Production

Both the networks and cable companies buy product from independent production companies....well sort of. And both of them and the government have all kinds of funds for supporting independent production....well sort of.

They both have deals with big time Toronto and Montreal production houses. That's where 99% of the fund money goes. I have a friend who produces a show for the Food Network who, when the dust settles, makes less money that an A & W fry cook. Another friend of mine was offered chump change by the CBC for an award winning feature film. Hell I can remember when CBC would rather spend $600k on an in-house "Valdy" special than pay $150k for an independently produced "Loverboy on Tour" special. Only a small number of Canadians cared about Valdy and the whole world was wild about Loverboy.

Cable networks will pay independent producers about as much as the producer spends on coffee for the crew on the production.

The Bottom Line

If you're like me and have as little faith in the cable companies and networks as you do in all of our other institutions these days then how are we ever going to have TV the way we want it?

Answer: We're not, unless millions of people cancel their cable subscriptions, or at least stop paying for them. Unless thousands of advertisers stopped buying TV ads, nothing will change. And the networks and cable companies know that.

Most importantly, if the networks and cable companies expect the CRTC and the public to believe them, they have to open their books. Show us the money! Show us the profits or losses. Be transparent.

And if you think the CRTC will sort this all out in OUR favour....well.....I think I'll go watch "Escape From New York" for the 30th time.

Just my opinion,

Courtney Smith

News Update!

The Facts Are In

May 7, 2010
Canada Cable, Satellite Revenue Grew 11% in 2009

March 18 (Bloomberg) -- Canada's cable and satellite distributors, such as Rogers Communications Inc., saw rising revenue last year while television stations experienced declines and recorded losses, the broadcasting regulator said today.

Distributors increased revenue by 11 percent to C$11.4 billion ($11.3 billion) in 2009, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission said. Revenue for so-called conventional television station operators, such as:

CTVglobemedia Inc., fell 7.9 percent to C$1.97 billion in 2009 and the industry reported losses of C$116 million, the CRTC said in reports posted on its Web site.

Conclusion:

Rogers and Shaw were bullshitting the public all along. Are you surprised? I'm not.

And still the same endless reruns of old shows with little new content.

What we need is a Cable Subscribers Association to represent the users in CRTC deliberations.

Hell extend that to phone and mobile phone and internet subscribers too, since the phone companies are into TV and internet and the cable companies are into phone and TV.

What an incestuous bunch of rip-off companies. It boggles the mind.