Video Online



Shaw Cuts Community TV

East Van Television
Co-operative Proposes Low Watt Transmitter as Alternative


Libby Davies, MP for Vancouver East
(2nd from right) and community television activists, Sid Chow Tan (l), Rick Ward and Patrice Leslie, at August 13, Press Conference, Independent Community Television offices



Webcast - press conference video and audio.

ACTION LINKS - below, you can make a difference.

Press Conference Press Release - below.

Follow-up Release - below.


Vancouver MP Libby Davies said it was "outrageous that Shaw TV is cutting community programming" at a press conference with community television activists on August 13. Davies announced her support for plans by the Community Media Education Society (CMES) for a new low watt TV station in Vancouver to restore local volunteer produced community access televison programs.

The group will apply for a broadcast license because of Shaw TV's decision to cut all community programs - including working TV - from its channel 4 on September 17, 2001. working TV, which has been broadcast weekly for over 8 years is one of many programs that will be cut. Programs will now be produced by paid Shaw staff. Volunteer programmers have been offered the opportunity to produce a 3 minute segment each week, but only according to Shaw's corporate criteria.

Davies will support the CMES license application to the government regulator, the Canadian Radio Television Commission (CRTC). "What you get now is 'infotainment' under the guise of community programming" she said of Shaw's new programming format. "This is not what community programming is about."



Webcast


Introduction, Sid Chow Tan
CMES Press Conference, August 13 RT: 00:22




Sid Chow Tan
Real Video (28k)


Sid Chow Tan
Real Video
(56k)


Sid Chow Tan
RealAudio
(28.8k)

Rick Ward, CMES
CMES Press Conference, August 13 RT: 2:49




Rick Ward
Real Video (28k)


Rick Ward
Real Video
(56k)


Rick Ward
RealAudio
(28.8k)

Libby Davies, MP Vancouver East
CMES Press Conference, August 13 RT: 4:45




Libby Davies
Real Video (28k)


Libby Davies
Real Video
(56k)


Libby Davies
RealAudio
(28.8k)

Patrice Leslie, Producer After Hours
(CMES Press Conference, August 13 RT: 2:11




Patrice Leslie
Real Video (28k)


Patrice Leslie
Real Video
(56k)


Patrice Leslie
RealAudio
(28.8k)

Libby Davies, Part 2
CMES Press Conference, August 13 RT: 1:18




Libby Davies
Real Video (28k)


Libby Davies
Real Video
(56k)


Libby Davies
RealAudio
(28.8k)



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ACTION LINKS

You can make a difference.

Express your outrage to the CRTC about Shaw Cable's July decision to terminate all independently produced programs from the only designated community channel in BC's Lower Mainland.

E-mail the CRTC @: procedure@crtc.gc.ca

Be sure to forward copies of your emails to the following:
Community Media Education Society cmes@vcn.bc.ca;
working TV workingtv@telus.net;
Jay Mehr ( local Shaw TV boss) jay.mehr@sjrb.ca;
Carmen Salerno ( Shaw TV ) carmen.salerno@sjrb.ca;











Press Conference Press Release
by Sid Chow Tan August 12, 2001


HELP NEEDED FOR EAST VAN LOW-WATT TRANSMITTER:
BOLD COMMUNITY CHANNEL ALTERNATIVE TO CORPORATE SHAW TV


VANCOUVER, BC -- Community Media Education Society (C.M.E.S.) and Libby Davies, MP for Vancouver East, will host a media briefing of a proposed community-owned and operated low-watt broadcast station on channel 4. It will be a true community channel. Developed by ICTV Independent Community Television Co-operative, the licence application is expected to be made before the end of December, 2001.

The briefing is scheduled for Monday, August 13th, 2001 at 10:45 AM at the ICTV studio, located at 1650 East Hastings St. (near Commercial Drive) in Vancouver.

The proposed station intends to restore the volunteer participation, public access and local expression that has steadily eroded on the community channel since the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC ) 1997 decision to no longer require cable licensees to operate a community channel. Since that decision the dominant Lower Mainland community channel operators, first Rogers and now Shaw, incrementally eliminated volunteer opportunities, public access and local expression.

Recently Shaw TV announced they were cutting all community-produced programs from the channel 4 schedule in September, 2001. However, community producers may now be allowed to contribute one three minute segment a week to programs which will be completely controlled by paid Shaw staff. In other words, if these segments meet Shaw's corporate programming criteria they may get airplay. At the same time, Shaw TV shut down its Kitsilano studio, leaving it no significant community television facility in Vancouver other than its base at city hall.

C.M.E.S. and ICTV began on November 19, 1996 when Rogers closed three of its four neighbourhood television (NTV) production facilities in anticipation of the CRTC's 1997 ruling. The volunteers at the Van East NTV office on Commercial Drive organized C.M.E.S. and ICTV, which continue to be primarily managed and operated by volunteers.

"I believe community interests are best served when there is a vibrant community media not beholden to corporate interests," states Libby Davies, MP, who presented a C.M.E.S. petition to Parliament in 1999 to save independent community television. "Community media is essential for the advancement of democracy in that it offers the general public an opportunity to be well informed and able to hear voices that traditionally have not been heard."

According to the CRTC, which licenses and regulates broadcasters, cable companies and new media, "the role of the community channel...should be primarily of a public service nature, facilitating self-expression by free and open access to members of the community. Also, community programming should complement that of conventional broadcasters. The provision of adequate financial resources to support the community channel remains the cable licensee's principal contribution to the public in exchange for the privilege of holding a cable television licence." (CRTC Public Notice 1991-59

Our proposed community channel "is a vision for the future; people in control of their stories and celebrations." says Andrew Lithgow, founding director of ICTV and producer of the program After Hours which will be cut in September. "Individuals and community groups will have a voice unfiltered by corporate necessities. We hope citizens will help ICTV in this bold and exciting opportunity of returning the public to the airwaves."

"The CRTC has called for public comments to look into licensing community television independently to broadly representative community groups," says Richard Ward, C.M.E.S. executive director. "In Vancouver, that community channel should be on cable 4 and be supported by the community channel levy."

CRTC rules allow cable companies to allocate up to 2% of gross annual revenues, derived from broadcasting activities, toward local expression. Based on a $30/month cable bill and 660,000 Lower Mainland subscribers, Shaw collects close to $5,000,000 that should be supporting a community channel. But little of the collected money is currently directed to help local community television producers and organizations. Instead, Shaw TV uses the community channel money to create repetitive opportunities in their programming to market Shaw goods and services.

"I don't believe viewers want this. They tell me the opposite when they respond to my programs," states Julius Fisher, who bought editing and camera equipment to continue the now cancelled, international award-winning working TV, a weekly social justice and workers' rights program. "I have had two meetings with Shaw and asked them to show me the market research that directs their decision making. Pollsters can skew their so-called research to provide any result a client wants. I believe Shaw got the response they paid for."

Even Vancouver's City Council appears to be concerned about how cable's community levy is being used. On August 2, 2001, Vancouver City Council voted in favour of asking, "That the City Manager be requested to write a letter to Shaw Television asking what resources are available from Shaw to support community programming, especially volunteer-based community programming." This is the United Nations Year of the Volunteer.



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Follow-up Press Release
by CMES and ICTV 12:23am August 16, 2001


CANADIAN CABLE COMPANIES CONTINUE EROSION OF COMMUNITY ACCESS


Time for action. Support your local independent media.

Mainstream media representation was absent at yesterday's (Aug 13th) news conference organized by B.C. based Community Media Education Society CMES) and the Independent Community Television Co-operative (ICTV). The two organizations joined by Vancouver East MP Libby Davies organized the conference to present their plan of action in the face of Shaw Cable's recent announcement that community produced programs will be removed from Shaw's channel 4 line-up this fall. The decision by major - (or French) language news media-including CBC-not to cover the event speaks volumes regarding mainstream media's disinterest in public access Community TV.

While CMES and ICTV are currently in the process of developing an application for a low-watt television broadcast station in Vancouver, Shaw's immediate termination of all community programs including well-known, community-supported shows like After Hours and Working TV, has come as a blow to community producers pending licensing decisions by the CRTC not expected until March 2002. It means there will be no community programs on the air until the CRTC makes up its mind on who gets the community licenses and how the stations will be funded.

"We have been concentrating our efforts on preparing a business plan and our licensing application," said Patrice Leslie producer of After Hours and a founding and current community outreach director of ICTV. "We know that public support is there and we are working on ways to harness that support as we move closer to the hearing dates." The CRTC and the Federal Government have to take a significant portion of responsibility for this recent travesty perpetrated by Shaw Cable. Back in 1997, without a great deal of fanfare, the federal broadcast regulator relieved cable companies of the responsibility for providing public access to community groups. Before Rogers and Shaw did a "switcheroo" of cable stations in eastern and western Canada Rogers had already started dismantling their community production facilities in Vancouver.

In fact those closures precipitated the start of CMES and ICTV. While the CRTC now appears to be paying some attention to the need for community access television it seems clear that the regulator put the 'de-regulation cart before the democracy horse' in allowing cable stations to continue dipping into 2% of the revenues which are earmarked for community access while allowing the cable companies to cut the community out of the programming. "I believe community interests are best served when there is a vibrant community media not beholden to corporate interests," states Libby Davies, MP, who presented a CMES petition to Parliament in 1999, to save independent community television. What is more says Davies, "Community media is essential for the advancement of democracy in that it offers the general public an opportunity to be well-informed and able to hear voices that traditionally have not been heard." For Davies the issue of community access is a national issue and should be "taken seriously by the Minister responsible for cultural initiatives Sheila Copps."

If the CRTC lives up to its 1991 policy statement from 1991 that community TV " should be primarily of a public service nature, facilitating self-expression by free and open access to members of the community," there can be no doubt that the ICTV application for a license will be granted. It seems fairly evident however that CMES, ICTV, Libby Davies and all the other community cable associations across the country need vocal, ongoing public support to finally set aside their dependence on mega cable companies like Shaw, Rogers and Quebecor in Quebec. Anyone who is concerned about ensuring the continuation of independent media sources should also be concerned about the erosion that has been taking place on community cable during the last several years.



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working TV is produced weekly by Julius Fisher for the
Slim Evans Society in Vancouver, British Columbia Canada
E-mail: workingtv@telus.net Phone: 604 253 6222

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