Currently, at the local level, the independent CTVs are completely excluded from funding concerns: there is no obligation to provide a financial contribution through cable distribution, the CTVs are disqualified in advance from all existing federal programs and the Government of Canada does not buy advertising slots from the CTVs. Even if they are guaranteed space on the community channel, how can the independent CTVs fully play their role as program producers for their communities if they do not have access to adequate, structural funding? Would it not be time for the Canadian government to recognize the importance of the independent community television stations by ruling on the necessary funding they urgently need to cope with rapid change and increasing challenges? The community element of the act must be developed and serve all Canadian citizens.
The idea of establishing a dedicated local community and access programming fund has been in the air for a number of years now. In 2001, the federation submitted to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage that a federal community access programming financial assistance fund was necessary in a context in which cable operators preferred to retain the portion of the deductible Canadian contribution for community-channel activities for their own purposes. In its report entitled, Our Cultural Sovereignty: The Second Century of Canadian Broadcasting, the committee submitted a recommendation to that effect, recommendation 9.8.
In its brief to the CRTC in the context of its Diversity of Voices hearing, Quebec's Department of Culture, Communications and Status of Women also recommended that a fund be established for the promotion of local news for commercial and community radio and television stations. It therefore seems clear to many that the establishment of a dedicated local community and access—