Oprah Winfrey attends the premiere of the Oprah Winfrey Network's (OWN) documentary series "Belief", on Oct. 14, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP)In the wake of that decision, a group representing Canadian TV producers petitioned the government, accusing the CRTC of abandoning critical safeguards designed to protect independent producers in their dealings with the country's largest private broadcasters. Without those so-called "terms of trade" safeguards in place, thousands of jobs are now at risk, warns the Canadian Media Production Association. "Hundreds of small and medium-sized businesses across the country are put in jeopardy if there is no reversal of this decision," says association president and CEO Reynolds Mastin. "You could see, over time, the evisceration of an entire industry ... without some kind of competitive safeguard." Making Canada's media concentration problem even worse, said Mastin, was the announcement last week of Corus's plan to buy Shaw Media Inc. from Shaw Communications Inc. The CRTC imposed terms of trade in 2011 as a way to balance the bargaining power between content producers and the big broadcasters and media conglomerates that distribute content.
But starting April 29, companies including Corus, Shaw, BCE Inc. and Rogers Communications Inc., can apply to have the terms removed from their licences, giving them leverage to negotiate favourable deals with content producers. Corus launched a Canadian version of OWN in March 2011 as a rebranding of its female-focused entertainment and lifestyle channel, known as Viva, which itself was a rebrand of Canadian Learning Television, CLT, a channel the company acquired in a 2008 deal with CTVglobemedia. In the spring of 2013, the CRTC threatened to revoke OWN's broadcasting licence for failing to comply with its mandate to air formal education programming — a holdover from its days under the Canadian Learning Television banner. The regulator had argued that while Oprah Winfrey may have taught her viewers the importance of self-esteem and the value of a good book, the network's programming didn't live up to Canadian educational content standards in place at the time. But last October, the CRTC lifted the requirement to air adult education programming as part of broader regulatory changes stemming from the agency's Let's Talk TV hearings.
"You could see, over time, the evisceration of an entire industry ... without some kind of competitive safeguard."
Canadian television must adapt to 'technological realities'
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