TV Fund Money Really Belongs To Us
Date: Tuesday, February 06 2007
Activist says $2.3 billion fund illegal
Feb 06, 2007 04:30 AM
Is the Canadian Television Fund (CTF) illegal?
Did the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) have the authority to create this public-private partnership in 1993 that, according to government figures, helped fund 23,141 hours of homegrown programming with more than $2.3 billion?
That's $2.3 billion of your money, cable subscription fees and tax dollars.
What with all the recent wailing and flailing over the fate of the fund – a ruckus raised last month when media barons Jim Shaw and Quebecor/Videotron's Pierre-Karl Péladeau said they would no longer contribute a percentage of their cable revenues to the CTF – it's been tough to cut the politics from the posturing.
But a careful reading of the CRTC decision that went into establishing the CTF reveals that its $2.3 billion, which subsidizes the production sector directly and broadcasters indirectly, more properly belong to viewers and/or taxpayers.
That amount doesn't count another $1.5 billion that ended up in cable company coffers.
In other words, you may have been overpaying on your cable bill for the past 14 years. But there's no way to know because the books on those rates are not open to the public.
One lone activist is lobbying to get your money back. He is ex-Toronto cable-broadcast manager Keith Mahar who made a name for himself in 1994. He fought with a passion against the cable companies and the CRTC for citizen/consumer rights – and his fervour cost him his career as well as his emotional and mental health.
An activist David against the media Goliaths, he didn't have a chance against the all-powerful cable monopolies and their allies in Ottawa.
[Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on February 7, 2007]