Sunday, May 24, 2009

CRTC reports and local television: Help me translate into plain everyday English

I am looking at some CRTC reports about the state of television. When I hear about how broadcast companies need help by getting the cable and satellite companies to pay for carriage of local stations, I wonder why. If I interpret some of the information found in the CRTC reports, specialty channels are gaining in revenue while the on-air (terrestrial) stations are stagnating. Local television news is facing a couple of challenges. People, especially young people, are watching less television. Also, the CBC is increasing resources to provide better local news production. Both of these will cut into the revenues that the private stations get from airing the local news.

If someone could help me interpret some of the information found in these reports, that would be great!


crazybitchesrus said...

It's not the document review that you were hoping for, but here is a very smart politcal analysis from one of the most intelligent and creative professionals I know in the broadcast industry. My favorite part of her analysis is this: "The broadcasters would have to commit to using this new money to keep local production going, even increase it, and stop the layoffs."

Going for gold in broadcasting Olympics
Last Updated: 15th May 2009, 3:05am

There's an Olympics of poverty going on in Ottawa.

The first teams to compete for the "who is poorer than whom prize" are CTV, TVA and Sun TV, Rogers Broadcasting (CITY-TV, OMNI) and Rogers Communications, and CanWest Television Limited.

The panel of judges is the CRTC, the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission.

The judges will decide if the major, private, for-profit TV networks are poor enough to justify some type of bail out. Without the bail out, these plants might shut down just like those that manufacture SUVs.

For complete Olympic details, background on the players, and live audio streaming, go to the CRTC's website.

This first team is called "conventional TV," the local stations we get for free. We're supposed to be able to tune them in if all we've got is low-tech rabbit ears, no pricey cable or satellite required.

The second team up is CBC, and other smaller not-for-profits, who assert "we're just as poor as the conventional TV guys." This will cause fights in the bleachers among the competitors and fans.

Just how poor is conventional TV? Pretty poor is the correct answer.

According to CRTC stats, 2008 revenues for private television stations decreased by 1.5% while expenses increased 4%. This resulted in profits of $8 million, well below the $112.9 million profits in 2007 and $233.4 million in 2004.

Who cares, you may ask? And where would the bail-out money come from?

This brings us to the third set of competing teams. That's the cable and satellite companies who moan "the money can't come from our customers, whose bills will go up at least $5 a month." Huh?

In fact, there are considerable profits in the hands of those who distribute the TV signals to the rest of us without our paying an additional $5. Total revenues for cable companies rose from $7.1 billion in 2007 to $8.24 billion in 2008, an increase of 16.1%.

Finally, team number four, all the rest of us. We include workers in the TV industry, viewers, and consumers.

The results of our poverty can be felt in several ways, where it hurts.

There have been massive job cuts, just as in manufacturing. Local TV stations have been closed or threatened with closure. Workers and customers are the poorest of the poor in these Olympics.

The possible solution, proposed by broadcasters and being considered by the CRTC, is that the TV networks would get a portion of cable and satellite revenues for local production improvements.

That sounds like a simple fix, unless we overlook the profitable specialty channels that are also owned by the broadcasters.

In 2008, the total revenues of the specialties grew by 7.6% to $2.9 billion, up from $2.7 billion in the previous year. Over the last five years, total revenues rose by over $850 million.

It sounds like a lovely fix, unless the bail-out money comes from consumers in higher cable fees.

Finally, cable fees going to broadcasters sounds like a terrific fix, unless it really doesn't fix the problem: Laid off workers and disappearing local production.

The broadcasters would have to commit to using this new money to keep local production going, even increase it, and stop the layoffs.....

Read the rest at:

Skinny Dipper said...

Thanks Crazy Bitches R Us. :-)

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