CAB, CCTA battle over ads
Broadcasters and cable companies are again locking horns over the question of U.S. specialty channels - arguing in recent submissions to the CRTC that a plan to insert more Canadian ads on channels such as CNN, A&E and TLC is either necessary for cablers to stay competitive, or, conversely, would undermine long-held rules regarding local and Canadian content.
Broadcasters and cable companies are again locking horns over the question of U.S. specialty channels – arguing in recent submissions to the CRTC that a plan to insert more Canadian ads on channels such as CNN, A&E and TLC is either necessary for cablers to stay competitive, or, conversely, would undermine long-held rules regarding local and Canadian content.
The Canadian Cable Telecommunications Association, in a joint submission with Montreal-based Videotron, is seeking federal permission for its members to insert commercials on U.S. cable channels, arguing that the CRTC’s current restrictions are limiting the economic value of those channels.
Specifically the cablers wish to make use of local availabilities – two minutes per hour that the U.S. channels set aside for their own house ads and other promotions. CCTA and Videotron want to replace those ads with spots for their own affiliated non-programming services such as phone and Internet packages. The plan could generate $40 million in extra ad revenue per year, 25% of which CCTA has offered to contribute to the Canadian Television Fund.
The plan is similar in some ways to a proposal put forth last year to the CRTC by Toronto startup 49th Media and its then-frontman Kevin Shea. That proposal was rejected.
Cable outfits are currently only allowed to replace local avails with spots for programming, FM radio, community channels and certain public services. Cablers say they need the extra cash to compete with telephone companies, which are allowed to cross-market their services, and to combat satellite signal theft.
But broadcasters say this would go against CRTC rules that require casters to contribute local programming to a market before they are allowed to sell ads. ‘These proposals… would put in jeopardy broadcasters’ ability to provide Canadians with local programming – and Canadian content in general,’ says CAB president and CEO Glenn O’Farrell. ‘This would be a dramatic reversal of [the] commission’s policy.’
The proposal has languished on Ottawa’s desk since October 2002, when it was first introduced. The CRTC recently closed its call for comments and is considering both arguments.
Courtesy sister pub Playback, October 25 2004