November 24, 2008

Canadian broadcast showdown developing

The global economic downturn is pitting Canadian national television networks against the federal regulator over license renewals, the Globe and Mail reported.

The seven-year term for license renewal is scheduled to begin in April, but the Globe said broadcasters such as CTV and Global Television are preparing appeals for relaxation of some local news programming requirements as they face declining advertising revenues and are reducing their workforces by the hundreds.

The scenario suggests a showdown with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission when the networks make their appeals in January. CRTC Commissioner Peter Menzies has already written an opinion saying programming requirements won't be used as a bargaining chip in license renewals, the report said.

In a memo to employees Friday, the Canadian Broadcast Corp.'s chief executive officer, Hubert Lacroix, wrote that the publicly funded network is also facing tough times.

Our revenue streams are taking a hit; we are currently projecting a deficit in our television operations, though not to the extent of our competitors, and our levels of federal funding are never guaranteed, Lacroix wrote.