Local TV news coverage more important than station finances says CRTC chair

CRTC Commissioner Jean-Pierre Blais waits to appear before the Commons heritage committee in Ottawa, Thursday October 20, 2016. The head of the country’s broadcast regulator says TV stations have a responsibility to produce local news, even if it hurts their bottom line. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld by Terry Pedwell, The Canadian Press Posted Oct 20, 2016 9:04 am MDT Last Updated Oct 20, 2016 at 2:40 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email OTTAWA – TV stations have a responsibility to produce local news, even if it hurts their bottom line, the head of the country’s broadcast regulator told a Commons committee Thursday.Financial profits aren’t everything, said Jean Pierre Blais, chairman of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. He lamented the “disturbing number of television stations” that have cut staff, centralized operations and reduced the length of their newscasts.“We do not believe that local television news can be allowed to fall by the wayside simply because it doesn’t look good on the balance sheet,” Blais told the heritage committee, which is studying the future of local media.“The marketplace of products, revenues and profits is not the only marketplace that counts,” Blais said. “Far from it. There is also the marketplace of ideas and information. That marketplace trades in a kind of wealth that supports every aspect of our Canadian society.”His comments came as news conglomerate Postmedia announced a plan to reduce its salary costs by 20 per cent through voluntary staff buyouts — just the latest in a string of cuts being made across Canada’s media landscape as newspapers and other news organizations struggle with declining ad revenues and increased online competition.While digital platforms offer an alternative source of coverage, they don’t have the funding and expertise in gathering information possessed by professional TV news outlets, Blais told the committee.“They’re accessible and gaining in popularity,” Blais said, acknowledging the appeal of social media sites to which more and more news consumers have turned.“But so far they lack the funding, the experience and the news-gathering expertise to offer the focused, professional coverage that Canadians have a right to expect.”In June, the CRTC announced changes to the way broadcasters can pay for local TV news and required licence holders in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary to produce at least 14 hours a week of local news content — and to keep all of their stations running.In smaller English-language markets, minimum programming was set at seven hours a week.French-language stations are to be assessed on a case-by-case basis, but must produce five hours a week of local programming.But it was another decision, issued over the summer, that had committee members questioning whether the CRTC was harming Canadian TV production rather than bolstering it.The broadcast and telecommunications regulator announced a change in August to the point system that determines producers’ access to funding and tax credits for creating Canadian content, reducing the number of points required to be eligible for funding to six from eight.Critics have warned this could mean fewer Canadian creators and stars on the airwavesThe Writers Guild of Canada has said the shift could make it easier to hire more Americans and called the decision a direct attack on Canadian creators.In announcing the decision, the CRTC acknowledged the concern that the change could result in “fewer opportunities for Canadians.”But at committee, Blais defended the new system, arguing that it offers producers a small amount of flexibility in order to qualify for larger grants through other programs.“There’s been much ado about this particular decision when the funding from this represents less than two per cent of all the federal funding available,” he noted.As Blais spoke, the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, an Ottawa-based think tank, issued a report calling for massive reforms to the CRTC that would shrink the agency’s mandate.The institute also recommended the regulator end Canadian content requirements for all broadcasters except the CBC/Radio Canada and stop dictating to cable and satellite TV providers what kind of channel selections they should offer.“Regulating how much Canadian content is shown on traditional over-the-air television when Canadians are spending roughly one-third of a day per week watching Internet-based content, for instance, seems like a losing battle,” stated the report written by Len Katz, former CRTC commissioner and a cable and telecom executive, and Sean Speer, a former Harper government economic adviser.The report was similar in tone to those published earlier this year by the Fraser Institute and the C.D. Howe Institute, which declared the CRTC outdated in the Netflix era.The Department of Canadian Heritage has been canvassing Canadian businesses, interest groups and individuals on the government’s approach to cultural industries in cross-country hearings that are set to conclude Nov. 25.Follow @tpedwell on Twitter Local TV news coverage more important than station finances, says CRTC chair read more

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5member team from GWI in Netherlands undergoing training

Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedGWI says it invested $48M for equipment to swiftly service wellsAugust 7, 2018In “Business”GWI training gov’t engineers on waste water management strategiesJanuary 10, 2017In “Local News”GWI working to resolve water woes in LindenDecember 23, 2015In “Business” (From left to right) Craftsman, Timothy Sutton; Well Maintenance Engineer, Kerene Gordon; Driver/Expeditor, Sean Moore; Operations Director, Dwayne Shako; Q-Flow Director, Martin Bloemscheer and Maintenance Manager, Peter Barkoye.A five-member team from Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) is currently in the Netherlands undergoing a three-week well regeneration training which will enable the utility to better maintain its wells, while reducing the effects on customers during such exercises.Those participating in the training are: Operations Director, Dwayne Shako; Well Maintenance Engineer, Kerene Gordon; Maintenance Manager, Peter Barkoye; Driver/Expeditor, Sean Moore and Craftsman, Timothy Sutton.GWI had earlier this year announced the procurement of equipment for well maintenance, which included a regeneration vehicle which was sourced from Dutch company, Q-Flow International and which is equipped with the necessary well maintenance tools.According to a release from GWI, the training, conducted by Q-Flow International, equips the participants with the necessary skills and knowledge to adequately utilise said vehicle for well development, regeneration and capacity increasing. The practical component of the training sees the participants utilising that very vehicle.According to Dutch newspaper, Tubantia, upon completion of the training in the Netherlands, the regeneration vehicle will be shipped to South America and a second round of training will take place in Suriname.GWI has 141 wells countrywide and the company’s Operations Director, Dwayne Shako is quoted by Tubantia as saying “Guyana is a water-rich country, but we must be able to guarantee sufficient clean water and this means that all wells must be in excellent condition to be able to extract enough water. Our country and the company have invested a lot for this. They rely on us now.”The newspaper also quotes Engineer, Kerene Gordon, the only female team member as saying “Work is done very structured in the Netherlands – I love it. And the way in which maintenance takes place in Guyana, is basically the same. Only the methods here are much more developed. We will soon apply in Guyana what we have learned here.”As a result of the new equipment and the training of the utility’s key personnel to operate same, GWI will be able to prevent a reduced level of service and disruption of the water supply to citizens during the maintenance of its wells, the release added. read more

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