Letter to my MP

From: Rick Pali <rpali@alienshore.com>
To: David McGuinty <McGuiDa@parl.gc.ca>
Subject: Fee-for-carriage
Date: Jun 1 2009 22:03:10

Mr. McGuinty,

I’m writing today about this whole “fee-for-carriage/local TV extinction” disaster. Do not expect me to gush about how local TV is so important to me and that you must save it. Local information is important, but despite their best efforts to convince me otherwise, the CTV network isn’t the sole provider of local news.

Their ‘save local TV’ campaign offends me, quite frankly. In answer to Rogers’ complaint to the CRTC, CTV claims their coverage is fair and balanced. Claiming that if constituents don’t write their MPs, local TV could disappear is a scare tactic not based in fact. I already pay for a broadcaster. They’re called the CBC.

Perhaps the for-profit broadcasters haven’t noticed, but the media landscape is undergoing an upheaval, the likes of which has never been seen before. The old media is suffering and unless they learns how to adapt to new conditions, they will fail. Their current existence doesn’t entitle them to exist indefinitely. Don’t let them convince the CRTC that they’re entitled to a government-legislated stipend. Stations will fail. The local A-Channel dumped its entire news department. Disaster? No. The A-Channel stations haven’t made money in decades. It’s surprising they’ve lasted this long.

This is not a new issue. Fee-for-carriage has been put before the CRTC before and it has always been denied. This latest ‘crisis’ is simply fee-for-carriage dressed up as local coverage. If something has changed, perhaps it’s time to re-examine the issue. An economic downturn is not sufficient change. We’re all hurting. The answer is not to take more money from the average person. If there’s money to be made, someone will find a way to fill the need and make that money. If the appetite for local news is as great as CTV would have you believe, it will be filled without a forced subsidy.

I question the force with which the Ottawa CTV affiliate is trying to make this point. Have you watched their local coverage lately? They’ve decided to take up a sizeable portion of the time formerly used for local news they say is so important, and used it to try to convince viewers that the sky is falling. It’s not falling. I’ve stopped watching their news coverage in disgust.

If the CRTC goes along with this plan, Canadian networks will received a regular allowance. Not a one-time bail-out, but regular ongoing payments from cable and satellite subscribers. When the digital switch-over requires new transmission equipment, what will happen? I’m suggesting that nothing will happen. They’ll be getting paid by the rebroadcasters. They’ll get little return from the expense of the required hardware. So they won’t install it. Then I suppose they won’t be so frantic about making sure everyone gets their local news.

As for me, I’ll be extremely disappointed if you lend your support to this money-grab. I also plan to actively avoid cooperating. I toyed with the idea of cancelling my cable service in the past. I ultimately decided to keep it. The thought of CTV reaching into my pocket in the form of a larger cable bill will likely have me reverse that decision. Estimates place the increase in some markets at $7.50 a month. Not for me. That would mean a 20% increase on my bill. I’d rather do entirely without.

I’m hoping it won’t come to this, however. I’m hoping you can see through their attempts to manufacture panic purely for monetary gain.

Thank you for your time,

Rick Pali

[address]

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