Canadian b'casters band together for bailout

CTV, Canwest Global team for national campaign

TORONTO -- Canadian broadcasters have banded together to boost their chances for a federal government bailout.

CTV, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. and Canwest Global Communications Corp. on Monday said they launched a national grassroots campaign, "Local TV Matters," to secure subscriber fees from cable and satellite TV operators.

The move comes after a pull-back in consumer spending led a steep dive in TV ad revenue, the lifeblood of Canadian broadcasters, and in turn asset writedowns and cost cutting.

To restore their fortunes, the broadcasters convinced the CRTC, the country's TV regulator, to get over earlier hesitation and order cable and satellite TV carriers to negotiate first-time compensation for carriage of local TV signals.

The cable and satellite TV operators have opposed the so-called fee for carriage bailout, which also would see the CRTC creating a local programming fund for broadcasters.

"We are concerned that Canadians are being misinformed by cable and satellite companies, specifically about the additional costs these companies are choosing to unnecessarily pass onto our viewers," Charlotte Bell, Canwest Global senior vp of regulatory and government affairs said.