CKWS-TV changing affiliation from CBC to CTV: results of my own investigation
UPDATE – JUNE 30 2015
On June 29 2015, I received a response from the Executive Director of Regulatory Affairs for the CBC which provided some important insight into the Corus (CKWS) and CBC disaffiliation. You can read the full unedited letter here: CBC programming in Kingston and Peterborough.
The letter indicates that the CBC plans to phase out its affiliation agreements with private broadcasters for financial reasons. To quote from the letter I received:
“CBC Television is phasing out its affiliation agreements with private broadcasters, such as Corus as they are no longer fiscally responsible given CBC’s limited resources. CBC’s intention was to allow Corus’s current Affiliation Agreement to run its course until August 31st, 2016 and not seek renewal, but Corus management requested termination of the agreement one year earlier, effective August 31st , 2015.”
As I said in my original post, the change still requires written authorization from the CRTC before it can proceed:
“Corus has applied to the CRTC for permission to remove CBC affiliation from the stations’ Conditions of Licence.”
I want to thank everyone who has written to me and shared their opinions on this issue. If you have any comments that you wish the CRTC to consider as they are reviewing this situation, I would encourage you to contact the CRTC as soon as possible using one of the addresses below:
2) Mailing Address:
Canadian Radio-television and
Telecommunications Commission Ottawa, Ontario Canada, K1A 0N2
- Toll-free: 1-877-249-CRTC (2782)
- Toll-free TTY line: 1-877-909-CRTC (2782)
On May 20th, CKWS-TV in Kingston announced that on August 31st, 2015 it would be ending its 60 year affiliation with CBC and switching to CTV. The CORUS-owned CKWS is the only broadcaster providing CBC programming over-the-air in the Kingston area. Constituents have contacted my office with their concerns, in particular that digital antenna users will no longer have access to the CBC.
That was an eye-catching announcement for me as well, as I grew up watching CBC programs on CKWS-TV. But I know that there are sometimes good reasons for things to change, so I decided to look into it.
An executive with CORUS Entertainment told us that CKWS needed to find a new source of programming after the CBC refused to continue the relationship. I know that the regulatory authority is the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) so I checked with them. They told me that the disaffiliation of CKWS from CBC has yet to obtain the CRTC’s written authorization, which is required under the conditions of the license. CORUS and the CBC have been requested to clarify the situation by June 30th.
The CBC general manager of media operations and technology at CBC English services told us that the impact of ending the partnership will be “essentially nil” for the viewing public, as the CBC will still be carried on cable and satellite TV. However, for Kingston residents who access over-the-air digital transmission, the change means that they will no longer have access to the publically-funded CBC. The CRTC states that the change is not in violation of the Broadcasting Act, which requires that the CBC be made available throughout Canada in the most appropriate and efficient means.
Over the past nine years the CBC has been subjected to heavy cutbacks by the current federal government, with a loss of 10% of their budget (a budget reduction of $115 million over three years starting in 2012). At the time the cuts were announced in 2012, the Liberal Heritage critic, MP Scott Simms, spoke out, saying that the severe cutbacks could hinder the CBC’s ability to create programming and reach harder to access areas. By April 2014, the CBC announced that it would cut 657 jobs in the face of a $130 million budget shortfall, a result of the federal cuts compounded by flagging advertising revenues and the loss of the rights to broadcast hockey. In June 2014, the CBC announced another round of job cuts, a staggering 20% of its workforce by 2020 (1000-1500 positions in addition to the 657 previously announced) and said that it would shift its focus from television and radio to digital and mobile services. While the fate of the CKWS/CBC partnership has yet to be finally settled, what is clear is that the Conservative cuts have impacted the ability of this critical Canadian institution to provide programing that is accessible to all Canadians.