In 2009, the CRTC created the Local Programming Improvement Fund to support the development of local television programming – and local news in particular. They are now holding a public consultation to review whether the fund should be maintained, modified of cancelled.

In 2009, the CRTC created the Local Programming Improvement Fund to support the development of local television programming – and local news in particular. They are now holding a public consultation to review whether the fund should be maintained, modified of cancelled.

The review comes as no surprise, as it had been scheduled to take place three years after the fund began. 

Cable and satellite companies have been contributing 1.5 per cent of their gross broadcasting revenues to the fund since its inception, though it was a cost that was largely passed on to consumers. The fund will have distributed more than $300 million to more than 75 local stations by the end of 2012, according to the CRTC release.

This review is looking for comments on the following topics:

  • evaluation of the fund's objectives and the performance of recipient stations;
  • additional spending on local programming as a condition for receiving funding;
  • eligibility for the fund and the funding allocation formula;
  • cable and satellite companies' contributions to the fund; and
  • the relevance of maintaining, modifying or abandoning the fund.
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One of the reasons for establishing the fund was a decline in ad revenue, but the CBC reported that revenues for private conventional television rose by nine per cent in 2010. 

As well, the media ownership landscape has changed since the fund was established. CBC points out that media giants such as Bell, Rogers and Quebecor now own both cable and satellite companies as well as broadcast networks. 

To comment, you can fill out the online form. A public hearing on the issue will begin on April 16, 2012 in Gatineau, Quebec.