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Nice carrot, but where's the stick? asks ACTRA

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(ACTRA) The Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television & Radio Artists
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CRTC/Regulatory - TV
TORONTO - ACTRA has called the CRTC's proposed incentives for airing and producing Canadian drama a half-measure.

Incentives are not enough, said the actors' union. The CRTC must finish the job and impose drama content and expenditure requirements on Canada 's private broadcasters. Earlier this month, as reported by www.broadcastermagazine.com, the CRTC issued a public notice saying that, among other things, broadcasters would get additional ad time to sell per hour as an incentive to commission and air Canadian drama.

The Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists represents 21,000 members in Canada.

Canadian actor Paul Gross, who has spearheaded ACTRA's campaign for Canadian programming, said that this month's public notice doesn't go far enough. "Nice carrot, but where's the stick? The CRTC should do what's necessary to make Canada 's private broadcasters earn their licenses. They've been pampered for too long," he said.

The CRTC's 1999 Television Policy sent Canada 's drama industry on a downward spiral by removing spending requirements for Canadian broadcasters and allowing them to satisfy Canadian content requirements by filling their schedules with cheap reality and magazine-style programming, says ACTRA. "Canadian culture and programming has now all but disappeared from the airwaves. Since the 1999 policy has been in effect, the number of one-hour dramatic series has dropped from a high of 12 in 1999 to a low of three in 2003," says the release.

ACTRA is happy the CRTC wants to allow broadcasters more ad time in exchange for airing Canadian drama. But, ACTRA has also been calling for obligations for broadcasters, including the requirement to air a minimum number of hours of original Canadian drama during prime time.

"Canada 's private broadcasters are doubling their profits by simulcasting cheap U.S. programming. In their scramble to make money for shareholders, broadcasters have been allowed to conveniently ignore the Broadcasting Act and the standards to which they agreed in exchange for their licenses," said Thor Bishopric , ACTRA's national president. "The CRTC should live up to its mandate and impose content and expenditure requirements on private broadcasters."
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