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Feds to provide foreign ownership answers soon; tie TV funding to audience

OTTAWA - Just before going on its Remembrance Day break (which may turn into a Christmas/once Paul Martin takes over as PM break), the Government of Canada issued its initial response to June's Standing Committee on Cultural Heritage report.

The 11-page response to the 872-page Committee report touches on a number of issues, mostly promising more study and clarity on some things and direction on others. Some snippets:

On the Canadian Television Fund
"The fund must prove its worth and measure its success in supporting productions which attract growing Canadian audiences to the various genres of Canadian programming it supports. This is particularly important where progress is most needed – English Canadian drama."

On the CBC
"The government reaffirms that the CBC is a unique and essential instrument in the Canadian broadcasting and cultural landscape, and supports its emphasis on distinctive Canadian programming. Is should strive to attract audiences to that programming, and serve as an important part of the solution to the decline of English language drama… it is particularly important that the CBC better communicate its plans and priorities, and that its accountability for results to Canadians be improved."

On foreign ownership of cable and other broadcast distribution undertakings (and the fact that the Heritage committee doesn't want it and the Industry committee as well as the cable industry itself, does)
"The fact is that BDUs make many important programming decisions regarding the packaging, placement and promotion of the channels they carry. As a result, the view that control over programming is solely in the hands of broadcasters, and can clearly be distinguished from those who carry programming - whether by cable or satellite - is overly simplistic.

"The Government of Canada recognizes that it has a responsibility to determine how best to reconcile the conflicting recommendations of the two standing committees. Accordingly, the Government of Canada undertakes to immediately launch an analysis of the foreign ownership question. This review will be completed quickly, and by the spring of 2004, the Government of Canada will be in a position to examine possible solutions."

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