03.22.2011 10:45 AM
Canadian Broadcast Group Revived

OTTAWA — After announcing plans to fold in June 2010 due to irreconcilable differences between its cable/satellite TV and broadcast TV members, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) has found a creative way to keep going — albeit in a much reduced form.

“The CAB hired Fern Bélisle — the former vice-chair, broadcasting at the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) — to review our operations and give us some suggestions on how to wind down,” explained current CAB Chair Sylvie Courtemanche; she is also vice president of government relations at the Canadian radio group Corus Entertainment.

“In the context of his review, it became apparent to him that there were areas where broadcasters were in complete agreement on issues,” Courtemanche said. These issues include copyright and copyright reform, administration of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, and distribution of programming funds such as FACTOR/Musicaction.

In order to avoid future conflicts, the CAB is now avoiding any thorny topics that could divide its members. Of these, “the areas that caused the greatest conflicts were the regulatory submissions with the CRTC,” said Courtemanche. “The new mandate of the CAB is that we will not be representing our members on policy issues involving the CRTC.”

The reason these submissions are so thorny is that TV broadcaster members of the CAB often find themselves in complete disagreement with their fellow cable/satellite TV members — with neither side willing to compromise.

Meanwhile, to cut costs, and in line with its reduced mandate, “the CAB no longer has any employees,” said Courtemanche. “When the CAB needs external help, it hires consultants to assist it.”

In addition, “we have one board instead of four, and it is a very active and working board,” she said.

Elected last June, the board includes Golden West CEO Elmer Hildebrand, who tried to put together a radio-only version of the CAB when the association appeared doomed.

Despite its reduced mandate, the CAB is once again making itself known to Canadians, primarily through a radio campaign supporting Bill C-32, the Canadian Copyright Modernization, which is as of mid-March was still being debated in Parliament.

Among its provisions, Bill C-32 would eliminate any royalties payments or fees for temporary digital copies of music that are created as part of “technological processes” at a broadcast station, such as when a file is transferred from an archive to an automation system.

-- James Careless, Radio World

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