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Heritage minister committed to CTF funding
Laurel Hyatt

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CRTC - television
OTTAWA - The CRTC's announcement of rewards for airing English-language Canadian drama wasn't the only good news coming out of the nation's capital on Monday. New Heritage Minister Liza Frulla pledged to maintain funding for the Canadian Television Fund.

Frulla said she will try to convince her cabinet colleagues that TV production is an important contributor to the Canadian economy. "Certain people tend to forget that," she told delegates at the annual conference of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters in Ottawa.

She admitted that the government has been late in introducing changes to the Copyright Act (necessitated by the blinding speed of changing technology), but she hopes to present a draft bill to cabinet before Christmas, and table the legislation in Parliament early in the new year. "We are moving fast," the minister said.

Frulla said the copyright reforms would likely address the issue of transfer of format. Radio broadcasters have been pushing for exemptions to suggested rules requiring a fee to transfer, for example, music from a CD to a station's computer hard drive to play on air.

The CAB maintains that private radio broadcasters pay their fair share of royalties already and that more copyright burden could amount to a "cultural subsidy" for artists.

By June 2005, Frulla hopes the government will highlight its priorities for broadcasting, and she invited the industry to let her know what issues it feels are important, including on copyright.

Making legislative plans for even the near term with a minority government may not be sheer folly. MPs from all four parties said at a convention panel that the new session of Parliament has been productive so far, with all parties negotiating on procedures and amendments. Conservative MP John Reynolds, Official Opposition House Leader, said he wouldn't be surprised if the current government held together until the budget of 2006.

CAB president and CEO Glenn O'Farrell said he wants to strengthen partnerships with policymakers and noted that minority governments "are not idle."

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