April 16, 2003  Producers say funding system is broken, demand reinstatement of $25 million to CTFWith such Canadian shows as This Hour Has 22 Minutes not getting funding from the Canadian Television Fund (CTF)’s licence fee program (LFP), producers are demanding that the $25 million per year that the government cut from the fund over the next two years be reinstated. In a news conference organized by the Canadian Film and Television Production Association (CFTPA), several participants, including Salter Street executive producer Michael Donovan, stated that the system is broken and needs to be fixed. The first step in changing things, said CFTPA president and CEO Elizabeth McDonald, would be the reinstatement of the money cut by the government, followed by a cooperative effort by the industry to create a better system ensuring Canadian programming gets made and watched.The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. stated the results of the latest CTF funding were relatively positive for its French Television service, but "devastating" for its English television service. "We will be advocating the rethinking of the CTF as a means to sustain distinctive Canadian programming in the future," the public broadcaster said in a news release.Epitome Pictures Inc., which did receive funding for its Degrassi television series, wrote to the Prime Minister, pleading for Jean Chrétien to consider a legacy gift by reinstating at least some of the $25 million. "In return, we will pledge to you that we will work with the industry to co-ordinate a long-term strategy to address, not just issues of the Canadian Television Fund, but other serious problems facing television drama in general, and dramatic series in particular," wrote Linda Schuyler and Stephen Stohn in their April 14 letter.The Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) also issued a plea for a permanent government commitment to the fund of at least $100 million a year. The outcry follows the April 14 announcement by the CTF that it was offering $75 million to 73 productions through its LFP, but had to turn away 64% of applications. The Association des producteurs de films et de télévision du Québec, which represents Quebec film and TV producers, made similar demands at a media conference today. Canadian Heritage minister Sheila Copps told Canadian Communications Reports that the government’s contribution was always intended to decline as the private sector’s amount rose (CCR, April 10/03). Global proposes disaffiliating its Red Deer station from the CBCGlobal Communications Ltd. hopes to replace the partial Canadian Broadcasting Corp. schedule it currently airs on its Red Deer AB station with its CH television lineup. Under the plan, Global’s CKRD Red Deer station would no longer be affiliated with the CBC. The CBC would provide its programming to central Alberta with the transfer of two transmitters from Global that could be added to the licence of the public broadcaster’s CBXT Edmonton station. The transmitters would be used to rebroadcast 100% of the CBC’s schedule to Red Deer, Coronation and surrounding area. Global’s CH lineup is currently available in Hamilton and Vancouver Island. The proposal is subject to CRTC approval. The matter is scheduled to be heard at a public hearing in Edmonton that begins on June 16. Global’s move is seen as a response to CHUM Ltd.’s licence applications for TV stations in Edmonton, with a retransmitter in Red Deer, and Calgary. CHUM applies for TV licences in Edmonton, CalgaryCHUM Ltd. has applied for television licences in Edmonton (with a retransmitter in Red Deer) and Calgary. In its licence applications, CHUM has pledged to broadcast at least 20 hours per week of local programming. Much like Craig Broadcast Systems did in its application for a TV licence for Toronto, CHUM proposes offering English-language multicultural or cross-cultural programming on the Calgary and Edmonton stations. CHUM also pledges to devote half of its mandatory evening Canadian programming on its Toronto and Vancouver stations to dramas if granted the licences. If licensed, CHUM’s Calgary and Edmonton stations would become rivals to the Craig-owned A-Channel TV stations in Western Canada. CHUM unsuccessfully opposed the licensing of a new entrant in the Toronto market (CCR, May 23/02). The applications are scheduled to be heard at a public hearing in Edmonton that begins on June 16. Comments on the proposals are due by May 22 (Broadcasting Notice of Public Hearing 2003-4). Telus, Westman apply for VOD licencesTelus Communications Inc. has applied for a national English-language video-on-demand (VOD) licence and Westman Media Cooperative Ltd. has applied for a VOD licence for Brandon, Minnedosa, Neepawa and Carberry MB (Broadcasting Notice of Public Hearing 2003-4). Westman is the first smaller cable operator to seek permission to offer VOD as part of its digital cable service. Comments on the applications are due May 22. The applications are slated to be considered at a public hearing in Edmonton that begins on June 16. Torstar rebrands its infomercial channel SHOPTV CanadaTorstar Media Group Television (TMG TV) has changed the name of its 24-hour infomercial channel from Toronto Star TV to SHOPTV Canada. The channel is distributed in the Greater Toronto Area. The company said the new name more accurately reflects the business activity of TMG TV and prepares it for future growth. Canal Évasion seeks licence amendments including lower Canadian content requirements, rate increaseThe French-language specialty TV channel Canal Évasion Inc. is asking the CRTC to allow it to reduce the amount of Canadian programming it must broadcast from 60% of the broadcast day and 60% of the evening period to not less than 45% of the broadcast day and evening period. As well, it wants the percentage of gross revenues spent on Canadian programming reduced to 42% from 50% for an interim period ending Aug. 31, 2007. It also wants to be able to broadcast game shows and proposes a rate increase to 80 cents from 49 cents (Broadcasting Public Notice 2003-16). Comments are due by May 9.  CRTC rules that condominium board to determine which distributor will provide services to the buildingThe CRTC has ruled that the board of directors or strata council of a condominium will choose which distributor will provide TV services to the building (Broadcasting Public Notice 2003-18). The concept of end-user choice in multiple-unit dwellings (MUDs) owned by a condominium corporation was not covered in its 1997 policy. The issue of end-user choice in condominiums was raised in a complaint filed by Novus Entertainment Inc. against Bell ExpressVu LP and the owners of Strata Plan, a Vancouver condominium. In a subsequent process for determining a policy for condominiums, Novus argued that end-user choice should be applied at the level of the individual unit or occupant. Other interveners, such as the Canadian Cable Television Association (CCTA) and Bell ExpressVu, said that the principle should be applied at the board or strata council level in the case of condominiums. The CRTC ruled that it would "be impractical and difficult to administer" at the individual level. Vidéotron gets regulatory approval to distribute second set of U.S. 4+1 signalsThe CRTC has approved an application by Vidéotron ltée, CF Cable TV Inc., and Vidéotron (Regional) Ltd. to distribute a second set of U.S. 4+1 signals on a discretionary digital basis (Broadcasting Decision 2003-114). The CRTC noted that "carriage on a discretionary basis of an additional set of U.S. 4+1 signals, when coupled with other initiatives such as the carriage of newly licensed Canadian digital services, could serve as an incentive for cable customers to subscribe to the digital service offerings of cable undertakings." Alliance Atlantis files to buy back a percentage of its sharesThe Toronto Stock Exchange has accepted a notice of an intention by Alliance Atlantis Communications Inc. to buy back up to 5% of its issued and outstanding Class A Voting shares and up to 10% of the public float of its Class B Non-Voting shares. "Alliance Atlantis believes that, from time to time, the market price of its shares does not fully reflect the value of its business and its future business prospects. As a result, depending on the future price movements and other factors, Alliance Atlantis believes that the normal course issuer bid may be an appropriate and desirable use of available funds," the company stated in an April 10 media release. CanWest Global’s Australian TV network records record earningsCanWest Global Communications Corp. announced that earnings at Network Ten, the Australian television network of which it is a majority owner, rose 15% to Australian $115 million in the six-month period ended February 28. Network Ten executive chair Nick Falloon said that the network had increased its share of the TV advertising market to 28.9% in the second quarter, up from 26% in the same period a year earlier. Cable association summit based on "Listen, Learn, Leap" themeThe Canadian Cable Television Association (CCTA) is hosting a Cable Summit in Toronto from April 27-29 under the theme "Listen, Learn, Leap." It includes an open discussion with the heads of Canada’s largest cable companies, and the unveiling of consumer research results on today’s viewers and Internet users. CRTC chair Charles Dalfen is also scheduled to speak on the direction the commission is taking as it steers the industry’s regulatory future. INTERNATIONAL NEWS Powell rejects requests for additional notice and comment period on broadcast ownershipFederal Communications Commission (FCC) chair Michael Powell says the regulator is aiming to complete its broadcast ownership review by June 2003, "without an additional, and unprecedented, notice and comment period." He notes in a response to several members of Congress that the FCC is legally obligated to complete the proceeding in the time frame established by Congress. The Telecommunications Act in the United States calls for a biennial review of all of its ownership rules. "If the commission were to issue a further notice, as some propose, the commission would be hard pressed to finish this biennial review before late this calendar year and would be forced to start the 2004 review almost immediately," Powell states in a letter posted on the FCC web site on April 16. Arbitron signs deal for people meter trials in FranceArbitron Inc. has signed a two-year licence agreement with Médiamétrie to trial Arbitron’s Portable People Meter (PPM) system in Paris. Médiamétrie is the provider of TV, radio, Internet and cinema audience measurement in France. BBM Canada will begin measuring French-language TV audiences in Montreal and Quebec with the PPM system beginning in the fourth quarter of 2003 (CCR, Sept. 26/02).  HDTV will boom, predicts TV technology web siteHigh-definition television (HDTV) will boom in the next two years and video-on-demand (VOD) will crush video stores, predicts Phillip Swann, president of the TV technology web site TVPredictions.com. He says HDTV will move into the mainstream as prices for HD television sets decline and more HDTV channels are added.