Sunday, July 10, 2011

CBC CRTC Licence Renewal Hearings Postponed - Curiouser and Curiouser

There has been another Friday afternoon summertime Ottawa stunning announcement. This is from CRTC and it postpones the CBC licence renewal hearings:
This decision was made for two reasons. First, it was made further to a request by the Quebec English-language Production Committee (QEPC) for the same data that had been available for the group-based licence renewals for private English-language television, held in April 2011. The Canadian Media Production Association and the Documentary Organization of Canada supported the request.

Second, today the CBC/SRC advised that the federal government has not yet established its future operating budget. The CRTC believes it would be inappropriate to impose licence conditions given this uncertainty.

Consequently, the CRTC has decided to postpone the renewal hearing until June 2012. A revised notice of consultation will be issued shortly with new procedural dates.
This provides few answers and raises many questions. The original announcement of  the September, 2011 hearing and the schedule was also a Friday afternoon summer announcement not even a month ago on June 17, 2011 with a requirement for submissions to be filed by July 18, 2011. Those submissions are presumably almost finished under a very difficult timeline in mid summer - and may now have to be substantially reworked. Those in the arts community, who are major stakeholders here,  have very little resources to spare and hopefully the work now done won’t be wasted.

One clearly interesting aspect of all of this is that Konrad von Finckentstein, the current Chairman of the CRTC, may not even be there in June of 2012. His term is due to expire on January 24, 2012 and it is not known if he will be reappointed. His departure, if this happens, and the choice of his successor could have a profound influence on the work and even the role of the CRTC. This is a crucial time for the CRTC.

It is also a crucial and possibly even existential moment the CBC. The latter has some important critics in the private broadcasting realm with an openly declared agenda. Even its long loyal listeners and viewers are in many cases disposed these days to a “tough love” approach. The Government is in a cut back mode and the $1.1 billion annunal subsidy is a juicy target in the eyes of many. The term of its current President, Hubert Lacroix, is due to expire at the end of 2012. Under his watch, there has been no apparent change in direction from the controversial changes that have been and continue to be implemented on CBC TV and Radio.

The CBC has not had a full license hearing at the CRTC  for more than a decade. Here’s the WireReport report.

This is a classic Ottawa moment. Things seems to be getting curiouser and curiouser.


PS - curiouser and curiouser indeed. Just tweeted about two new Postmedia stories re Konrad & CRTC:

Two stories: "Outgoing CRTC head’s tenure ‘a mixed bag’: former commissioner" &

PS - I think that the headline writer's reference to "outgoing" must have been to KvF's personality... 

1 comment:

  1. I think the CRTC was shocked with the comments it received from Canadians about satisfaction of the CBC. Perhaps the CRTC & CBC are just regrouping to do some damage control!