CTV/CanWest brace for CRTC grilling on renewals
4/17/01

Hull - Today, all the senior executives from CTV get to sit at a nondescript table in a nondescript room in Hull and tell the CRTC why it should have its broadcast licenses renewed for its 30 local TV stations, not including the recently purchased, from Moffat Communications, CKY-TV of Winnipeg and its seven other local Manitoba stations.

After them, the bulk of CanWest Global's executive suite will take the chair, explaining the same thing for its 19 stations, which still includes, for the time being, CKVU of Vancouver, which CanWest agreed to sell to CHUM last week.

Both of those deals are pending regulatory approval.

The whole license-renewal thing will be carried live on CPAC and on www.cpac.ca with nightly roundups of proceedings at 10 p.m.

While the licenses will be renewed (it's not as though anyone doubts this), commissioners are expected to query the newly converged media entities on just what it is they plan to do with so many assets under one roof.

Since CTV and the Globe and Mail were dumped under one Bell Canada Enterprises umbrella last year - Bell Globemedia - after the telco purchased both, and CanWest, with its purchase of numerous Hollinger/Southam newspapers and 50 per cent of the National Post, the two are now the dominant content players in the country, the CRTC is expected to seek some sort of answers or even assurances that editorial diversity will be maintained and alternative voices will find space either on air or in print.

The thorny issue of Canadian content (what Canadian viewers seem to want vs. what the CRTC and others in Ottawa think Canadians should want) is also expected to rear its head.

Look to the lineup on the left of politicians and others (NDP, Friends of Canadian Broadcasting) to present their cases as well during the two weeks of hearings.


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