Satellite radio seen as threat to local radio
The CRTC hearings on satellite and subscription radio applications that began November 1 have drawn numerous intervention submissions from both supporters and detractors along fairly predictable lines.
The CRTC hearings on satellite and subscription radio applications that began November 1 have drawn numerous intervention submissions from both supporters and detractors along fairly predictable lines. John Cassaday, president and CEO of Toronto-based radio and TV broadcaster Corus Entertainment, says in his comments to the CRTC that while the CBC/Sirius applications states that the service will be national and not competing with local broadcasters in the areas of programming and advertising, the Canadian Satellite Radio and CHUM/Astral ventures have not ruled out local content and advertising in the future – putting them into direct competition with conventional radio broadcasters.
The CSR proposal, for example, calls for eight minutes of national advertising initially per hour in Canadian channels on the system.
Cassaday suggests that if the licenses are granted, condition of license should prohibit all services from broadcasting local programming and broadcasting and soliciting local advertising. In addition he says new subscription services should be held accountable to the same Canadian content guidelines as other broadcasters.
Automakers General Motors and Honda were supportive of the satellite ventures since they have already made deals to install satellite radios in their vehicles.
Retail companies Best Buy (Best Buy and Future Shop) and Intertan (Radio Shack) also threw their support behind satellite radio since they will be selling the units.
Watchdog organization Friends of Canadian Broadcasting does not support the satellite apps but looks favourably upon the CHUM/Astral subscription radio service submission because it conforms to the requirements followed by commercial music broadcasters to offer 35% Canadian content. It says the satellite-based services will offer almost 200 U.S. channels and only a handful of Canadian. Since some are duplicates of existing services, it would reduce the relative amount of exposure Canadian artists would have in Canada.
The submissions of ACTRA and the Coalition of Canadian Audio-visual Unions (CCAU) are similarly concerned about Canadian content. The CCAU urges the CRTC to not grant licenses to any applicants until it has ‘a clear Policy framework for such services, one that fully meets the requirements and objectives of the Broadcasting Act.’
The National Campus and Community Radio Association (NCRA/ANREC) asked the CRTC last week to recognize and support not-for-profit broadcasters with a proposed Community Radio Fund. Rather than making this fund a condition of license, the CRTC asked the three applicants to address the not-for-profit concerns on a voluntary basis.
The NCRA/ANREC also voiced its concerns about the two satellite radio apps, citing the lack of Canadian content in the submissions – one Canadian channel for every 25 foreign – and the impact that granting the satellite radio applications of Canadian Satellite Radio and Sirius Canada will have on its members.