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Sandbox feud detracts from real issue: they’re killing local TV

There’s a cute little feud going on between media giants. In one corner, CTV, which last week launched a totally cynical “campaign” to save local news. Give me a break. They have a website, but I don’t even want to link to it here for fear you’ll visit and increase their click count.

In the opposite corner, Rogers, Bell, Telus and Cogeco, who today launched a complaint at the CRTC against CTV’s “one-sided and unbalanced coverage” of the subject of the feud … whether CTV can get access to cable and satellite subscriber fees.

In an annoying spot that CTV seems to run at least every half hour in prime time, the network blames its threat of killing local television on the fact that it doesn’t get money directly from cable and satellite subscribers. No, they don’t put it that way, exactly. Apparently there were also “reports” about the campaign on local newscasts. Tomorrow, they’re planning rallies at their local stations and trying to get people to pressure their MPs on the network’s behalf. Is this is advocacy journalism, 21st century style??

(Can you imagine the reaction if CBC did something like this?)

The cable guys are no angels, of course. They raise subscriber fees any time for any reason. Now they’re saying that if they have to raise fees to pay the conventional networks, it’ll hurt their business. Whatever.

Meanwhile, three CTV stations are still in limbo. CTV said it will close stations in Brandon, Windsor and Wingham on August 31.

Then Shaw (another cable guy) ran an ad in CTV’s own newspaper (the Globe and Mail) on May 1 – in the midst of CRTC licence hearings where the spat hit the headlines – saying it would buy the stations for $1 each. Curiously, we’ve heard no more from Shaw on this since then.

If CTV really wanted to “save local TV”, would it really hang these stations, these employees, these communities out to dry while they negotiate a better deal with Ottawa?

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