The rebroadcasters and the television networks are appearing before the CRTC to try and get this fee-for-carriage mess straightened out. According to the CBC report, CRTC chairman Konrad von Finckenstein has grown more than a little frustrated with the two sides. It’s no wonder. One side says they must have more money, and the other says they’re not going to hand it over. Each has resorted to an annoying media campaign in the interim, as well.
Some indications of what’s really going on have appeared. CTV president Ivan Fecan said that he is prepared to pull his stations off of any cable network that refuses to negotiate a fair fee. Presumably, Fecan will determine what’s fair so if CTV doesn’t get what they want, they’ll pull their programming off of cable. But there’s a condition. Fecan would only be willing to take this drastic action of the CRTC forced cable and satellite broadcasters to block the shows CTV carries from the U.S. stations. Why the CRTC would consider this, I don’t know. But Fecan defended the possibility of pulling his stations from cable and satellite as a move that would not deny viewers programming because the signal would still be available over the air. Happily, von Finckenstein disagreed by pointing out that most people with cable do not have the necessary equipment to receive over-the-air signals.
Personally, I think it would be amusing if CTV cut their feed to satellite and cable providers, and those providers put a graphic on the CTV channel explaining that CTV has decided to stop providing them programming. Cable and satellite subscribers would be pissed, and rightly so.
Fecan again said the current broadcast business model is broken. I agree with him. What I don’t agree with is his simply demanding money and threatening to take his ball home if he doesn’t get it. On the other hand, it would certainly put the issue to rest.
It’s no wonder the Canadian broadcasters talked so much about local programming. It’s all they really have to offer. The lion’s share of television the average Canadian watches is made up of programming from the U.S. and the cable and satellite providers will happily deliver the U.S. networks to us. The Canadian broadcasters don’t have many cards left to play.