Taking stand for local TV - Metro US

Taking stand for local TV

CTV’s Atlantic headquarters will be opening its doors to the public this weekend as part of a countrywide push to change broadcast regulations and “save local television.”

The open house, which will run Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. at the station’s 2885 Robie St. office, is one of many events happening simultaneously across Canada. The events are part of CTV’s campaign to have the government force cable and satellite companies to pay for broadcasting its shows.

Cable and satellite providers have always been able to rebroadcast shows from networks such as CTV without paying the network. That’s why even the most basic cable packages include CTV’s channel.

For years, networks were able to sustain themselves on advertising revenues alone, but the business has changed and, according to Mike Elgie, vice-president and general manager of CTV’s Atlantic branch, the system doesn’t work anymore.

Elgie says the crisis network television is facing has been brewing for the past five to 10 years, as advertising revenues have declined. Then, as specialty channels became more popular, CTV and other networks found themselves with stiff competition for viewers and advertisers.

The coming of the economic recession, he says, was “like throwing gas on an already-burning fire.”

CTV is hoping to start putting that fire out with Saturday’s events. By putting pressure on Ottawa, it hopes to have Canada’s broadcasting regulator change the rules so companies have to pay networks to air their shows.

If that doesn’t happen within the next year, Elgie says CTV will have to save money by shutting down local TV stations, or by reducing how much local television it broadcasts.

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