Today, the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced that the Local Programming Improvement Fund will be phased out by August 31, 2014. The contribution to the Fund will be gradually reduced until it is discontinued. As a result, the charge many cable and satellite companies have passed through to their customers will be removed from their bills.
“The Fund was created to ensure television stations had the resources to meet Canadians’ needs for local programming. We are satisfied with the support it has provided during a difficult economic period,” said Leonard Katz, CRTC’s Vice-Chairman of Telecommunications and Chair of the hearing panel.
Cable and satellite companies must prepare a report outlining the measures taken to ensure that the bills of affected consumers will reflect these reductions. They must also provide evidence that consumers have been notified or that they were never required to pay the contribution. These reports must be submitted to the CRTC by September 17, 2012.
In 2008, the CRTC created the Fund to help television broadcasters in non-metropolitan markets maintain and improve local programming during the recession, as they were incurring significant costs in making the transition to digital television. In 2010, 78 stations received funding totalling $100 million and, in 2011, 80 stations received $106 million in funding.
Due to a recovery in the advertising sector and the successful transition to digital television, the financial situation of broadcasters has improved. The CRTC is confident that these stations will maintain the same quality of programming without support from the Fund.
A number of CBC/Radio-Canada television stations supported by the Fund are located in official-language minority communities. The CRTC will discuss all of the public broadcaster’s programming commitments at its licence renewal hearing starting on November 19, 2012.
Today’s decision follows a proceeding that included a public hearing, which was held from April 16 to 20, 2012.