CRTC vice-chair to industry: ‘stop protecting status quo’

That was Tom Pentefountas' statement to gathered industry members at the Future of TV conference, as he talked simsub and set-top box data.
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Tom Pentefountas, vice-chairman of broadcast for the CRTC didn’t mince words when presenting to an industry crowd at last week’s Future of TV conference, asking those gathered why it took the Let’s Talk TV hearing for broadcast companies to move forward on issues like set-top box measurement.

Chief among the concerns from the crowd was whether or not there are plans from the CRTC to expand the removal of simsub to include other programming. The announcement to remove it from the Super Bowl broadcast starting in 2017 is currently before the courts.

Pentefountas downplayed the impact the Super Bowl decisions will have on the industry, noting it’s three hours out of the estimated 9.7 million average weekly viewing simsub hours that were presented in an Armstrong Consulting report to the Let’s Talk TV panel last fall.

“Clearly, the three hours spent broadcasting the Super Bowl represents a minuscule amount of the total opportunities for TV advertising in Canada,” he said.

Noting there aren’t currently plans to expand non-simsub hours, Pentefountas said however that the removal of the practice might create more space for Canadian programming, since the current practice acts as a disincentive to broadcasters striving to keep day-and-date with the U.S.

“The day will come when it will no longer be a useful or necessary tool to protect Canadian broadcast rights,” he said. “Rather than clinging to the status quo, it makes more sense to start preparing now. Not just to keep pace with the competition, but to get out ahead of it in a fast-changing marketplace.”

Pentefountas also stressed that broadcasters are currently “leaving [ad revenue] on the table,” by not more precisely targeting viewers with addressable ads through the use of set-top box return-path data. He asked why the industry wouldn’t want the same targeting capabilities as TV’s digital partners.

“The fragmentation of audiences and multiplication of platforms and windows need not be feared,” he said.

Increasing Canada’s visibility on the world content stage is one of the ultimate goals of the CRTC’s changes, said Pentefountas, noting he looks forward to the day when Canadian producers and broadcasters are the conquerors, not the conquered.

“If you have a top-notch product that can take on the world and attract big audiences – the world is now your oyster,” he said. “So, think big.”

He noted the CRTC’s mandated set-top box working group will present its report to the commission by June 10.