Today the CRTC released its public consultation on the state of the Canadian broadcasting system. I assume that most of my readers are involved in the Canadian broadcasting industry and are not members of the general public (I’m not sure about you readers from Russia or the former SSR of Georgia). So you may be asking yourself “should I get involved in this stage or wait for the industry consultation next spring?”* You might want to get involved now. If you are part of a member-based organization then I definitely think that you should get your members involved now. We’re all part of the public, right?
The CRTC has set up a lot of different ways to get involved. Find the official invitation here. You can call, email or fax your thoughts. There is a discussion forum, similar to past public consultations such as the ones on the wireless code or the CBC. And new for CRTC public consultations is the encouragement to hold “Flash!” Conferences. I don’t know the logic behind “Flash!” – flash mob? It has nothing to do with the software. The CRTC wants Canadians to gather, talk about the issues, and send the CRTC a report. Interesting. There’s a toolkit to facilitate the “Flash!” Conferences and the CRTC has limited funds to subsidize the cost of running them for smaller organizations (apply by November 13, 2014). There doesn’t seem to be a push to get Canadians to use social media other than the request to use the hashtag #TalkTV (Note: I may cave but at the moment I’m not using #TalkTV because it is already an active hashtag for people to talk about Canadian and US talk shows. I’ll stick to #CRTC and #CdnTV for now.) Update: The FAQ suggests that there will be Twitter chats and a Reddit AMA. Should be interesting.
What are the topics? In most of the material there are only three general topics mentioned.
Programming: What do you think about what’s on television?
Technology: What do you think about how you receive television programming?
Viewer toolkit: Do you have enough information to make informed choices and seek solutions if you’re not satisfied?
Those are pretty vague and general topics but if you dig into the Notice of Invitation you’ll find more detail on the questions and context for them. I’ve put them all together in one place for ease of use (for you and for me).
1. What television programs are most important to you (children’s programming, comedy, documentaries, drama, feature films, news, sports, reality TV, variety, other)? Why?
2. Do you know which of the television programs you watch are Canadian? If so, how do you know which programs are Canadian? Would it be important for you to know which programs are Canadian? Why?
3. What programs do you consider to be local television programming—programs about your city, your province, other? How important is local news to you? Why? How important is community access programming and “community TV” to you? Why?
4. Do you think the programming on television is fully reflective of Canada’s cultural, ethnic, linguistic, geographic and demographic diversity? If not, what’s missing? How important is reflection to you? Why?
5. What do you think programming will look like in the next 5 to 10 years? Why? Would you be satisfied with that situation? Why?
1. How do you prefer to watch television—on a traditional television set, online, on a smart phone, etc.? Why? How do you usually watch television programs—live, on-demand, recorded on a PVR, other? Why?
2. If you subscribe to cable TV or satellite TV, how satisfied are you with the way your channels are packaged?
3. What type of television service do you subscribe to—cable TV, satellite TV, Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) or other? Do you intend to stay with your type of television subscription in the next few years or switch to something else? What would make you stay? What would make you switch?
4. How do you think we will receive and watch television in Canada in the next 5 to 10 years? Why? Would you be satisfied with that situation? Why?
1. How satisfied are you that your television service provider supplies the information you need to understand your service options, including packaging and pricing?
2. Are you experiencing barriers that prevent you from changing your television packages or switching to another television distributor? If so, what are those barriers?
3. How satisfied are you that your television service provider supplies the information you need to make informed choices about programming that you may consider inappropriate for you or your family?
4. Do you have a visual or hearing impairment? If so, how satisfied are you with the tools available to enable you to share in our television culture?
5. Do you know where you can voice your concerns over television content, your television services and bills?
6. How do you think we will make informed content choices as program viewers and consumers in Canada in the next 5 to 10 years? Why? Would you be satisfied with that situation? Why?
I think these are really great questions. All of us would like to know what the general public thinks of these questions. For too long at public hearings all sides of the industry have tried to speak for the general public and what they want from our broadcasting system. I just wonder how the CRTC is going to get people motivated to get involved. There isn’t any hot button issue like there is whenever you deal with the CBC or want Canadians to talk about their cell phone bills. This is big picture thinking that most Canadians, I think, would rather someone else do for them. I suspect that organizations with agendas will be the easiest to motivate. We know how important this is so perhaps we should start with our own people. Gather and have a “Flash!” Conference in the next two months so that a report on the conference can be filed by January 10, 2014. [Shameless Self-promotion – you can hire me to help you do that.] I assume that anything gathered will be useful as well in the industry consultation. Spread the word about the consultation. The more ‘general public’ who hear about this and get involved the better for the industry.
*As part of this invitation to the public, the CRTC released its updated schedule on the industry consultation on the state of the Canadian broadcasting system. There will be a call for submissions Spring 2014 and a public hearing September 2014. Expect that one to be a doozy!