Today I seem ads on CTVGlobeMedia stations that are urging the government to require cable/satellite distributors to pay for distributing the signal. I think this is just plain wrong. Here in Saint John there are 4 broadcast stations CBAT (CBC Fredericton but licensed and has its main transmitter in Saint John), CKLT (Has no programming differences from CJCH (CTV Atlantic) in Halifax, NS), CIHF-TV-2 (a semi satellite of CIHF-TV known as Global Maritimes from Halifax.), and CBAFT-1 which is a re-transmitter of CBAFT the Radio-Canada Moncton feed.
When it comes to local programming CTV is the absolute worst, as I have noted before at most has 2 stories from the Saint John area and 4-5 total from the entire Province of New Brunswick on a good day. Global TV despite their severe cut backs have managed to keep their news stories basically equal per province.
The basics is that all 4 of these broadcasters offer their signals for free over-the-air (a.k.a. poverty-vision). The cable company simply re-transmits the feed via an antenna to cables to the subscribers. Why should we pay to have something that we get for free anyway? In fact this even benefits the TV stations by making it more convenient to watch the stations resulting in more viewers rather than switching over to better content from away. Thus removing ad dollars.
In less dense markets like the Maritimes TV must come up with a different model in order to survive. Depending on a single news program is clearly not the way to go, but neither is alienating the viewers by making some pay, while others do not. Do we consider a TV tax like the United Kingdom? I don’t thinks so either but fees must not be duel standard. The CRTC recently made a decision that requires distributors to no longer require a bundle of channels. In this schema you can choose to not purchase stations, adding fees will just doom local programming to certain failures.