CMPA, CAB, FRIENDS, among petitioners for CBC licence renewal to be set aside

The CBC Ottawa Broadcast Centre (Image Credit: Alamy)

The Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA), the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB), and CBC watchdog organization, FRIENDS, are among the organizations that have submitted petitions to the Minister of Canadian Heritage asking him to set aside, or refer back, the CRTC’s CBC licence renewal decision.

Submitted on Friday, the CMPA petition asserts the organization’s “deep concerns” about the elimination of a licence condition requiring the CBC to work with independent media producers in the production of Canadian programming.”

“This is a decision from the CRTC that frankly came out of left field, and will negatively alter the Canadian media production landscape in a number of troubling ways,” said Reynolds Mastin, President and CEO, CMPA, in a release. “The decision undermines federal broadcasting policy objectives, and is fundamentally dangerous to the future of Canada’s independent media production sector.”

The CMPA’s appeal asserts that the CRTC move has removed “pivotal protections responsible for the success of the Canadian broadcasting system” and was done without prior warning or evidence supporting the need for such a shift.

While the CMPA told Broadcast Dialogue it’s not aware of any conversations with the CBC suggesting the public broadcaster is considering a shift away from working with independent producers, its petition asserts that “deregulated framework will establish an unnecessary precedent that other private broadcasters will follow, creating the potential for an exponential impact from this Decision.”

“Although the Decision applies only to the CBC, elements of it will undoubtedly impact Canadian broadcast licensing more generally,” the petition continues. “Should the Decision stand, there is little doubt that other broadcasters will seek to similarly avail themselves of CBC’s new framework.”

CBC declined to comment on the CMPA petition, which has the support of the Black Screen Office, AMPIA (Alberta Media Production Industries Association), the Documentary Organization of Canada, FilmOntario, On Screen Manitoba, the Saskatchewan Media Production Industry Association, and Screen Nova Scotia.

Ongoing concerns about branded content, programming requirements

CBC watchdog organization, FRIENDS, and the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) have also filed petitions that both continue to ring alarm bells around Tandem, CBC’s controversial branded content initiative. FRIENDS’ petition also calls out the CRTC for what it says is inadequate protection of local journalism and Canadian programming through its failure to impose baseline expenditure requirements for both.

“The CRTC has approved a plan for CBC that runs the risk of diluting that which makes the CBC unique and uniquely important,” said Marla Boltman, Executive Director for FRIENDS. “We want and need a strong national public broadcaster, in tune and in touch with today and tomorrow – not a poorly resourced, pale imitation of a private broadcaster or a major streaming service.”

“To say that we are at a critical point when it comes to the landscape of Canadian culture, journalism and storytelling is a grave understatement. The U.S. tech giants are playing an enormously disruptive and, sometimes, destructive role. Disinformation is rampant, eroding public trust and chiselling away at confidence in our institutions,” added Boltman. “In this context, we cannot permit CBC to become weakened. The Liberals promised Canadians that they would strengthen the public broadcaster and we strongly urge them to live up to that promise by sending this decision back for reconsideration.”

Petitions have also been submitted by l’Association québécoise de la production médiatique (AQPM), the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) and the National Pensioners Federation (NPF).


Subscribe Now – Free!

Broadcast Dialogue has been required reading in the Canadian broadcast media for 30 years. When you subscribe, you join a community of connected professionals from media and broadcast related sectors from across the country.

The Weekly Briefing from Broadcast Dialogue is delivered exclusively to subscribers by email every Thursday. It’s your link to critical industry news, timely people moves, and excellent career advancement opportunities.

Let’s get started right now.

* indicates required