In terminating the Local Programming Improvement Fund the CRTC has cravenly caved to Canada's largest media barons and jeopardized Canadians' access to high-quality local news and information, says Canada's largest media union. In a policy statement a majority of the CRTC's non-elected commissioners voted to terminate the LPIF in August 2014.
"In ending the LPIF the CRTC ignored not only the Fund's critical role in sustaining and strengthening local news across the country but also large broadcasters' threat to close more TV stations," said Peter Murdoch, Vice-President, Media of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada. In April Bell and Shaw told the Commission that seventeen of their TV stations were unprofitable without the LPIF. "Since the CRTC has ignored repeated requests to mandate local news on TV, this decision will lead to job losses and ongoing threats of TV station closures," added Murdoch.
CEP notes that the only evidence that the CRTC used to support this decision was from Canada's largest cable or satellite companies, not the citizens the CRTC was created to serve. Over 1300 individuals, unions, associations and companies filed submissions about the LPIF - largely to support the Fund and local news - but the CRTC's policy quotes Rogers, Bell and Shaw fifteen times.
"Stephen Harper's no-regulation obsession means that billion dollar cable companies have once again trumped the interests of Canadians, who overwhelmingly offered their support for local TV news," said Murdoch. The CRTC's decision to ignore Canadians in favour of large corporate interests demands an independent public inquiry into whether the CRTC is serving Canadians and their communities.