Group Calls for OTA Community TV

Response to regulators looks to strengthen local stations
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OTTAWA: The Canadian Association of Community Television Users and Stations (CACTUS) is submitting to regulators tomorrow a proposal to revive locally produced over-the-air programming.

The submission, made in response to the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission consultation notice on community TV, proposes what CACTUS says is “a novel and cost-effective way to maintain, support and increase local programming content.”

Traditionally, the Canadian community television sector has depended upon the cable industry for studios and channel space. Instead CACTUS is asking the CRTC to shift monies earmarked for community access to an independent production fund directed at volunteer community TV boards. These boards, CACTUS contends, would offer free over-the-air community television, free training to community participants and free access on all platforms, including new media.

“We see community TV much like a public library. It should be the communications hub and active voice of Canadians in their cities and towns,” said CACTUS spokesperson Cathy Edwards.

CACTUS views the analog-to-digital transition as an opportunity for community television to develop new business models that will help ensure that public and private stations remain available free over-the-air across Canada. Deadline for comments on CRTC 2009-661 are due by Feb. 1, 2010.