Letter to the editor from Jean-Pierre Blais on licence renewals for large French language TV groups

Statements

On May 15, following a public process, the CRTC published the decisions regarding renewal of the broadcasting licences for TVA, V, Bell and Corus. Some incorrect information from those decisions recently circulated in the media. I would like to set the record straight.

First, we were criticized for removing the licence conditions requiring expenditures in original French-language programming. However, only three of the 29 services and stations for which the licences have been renewed were covered by such conditions. And those three services have had new conditions imposed on them that will result in more investment in original French-language content.

Let’s take the Séries+ example that was mentioned in the media. The CRTC replaced this service’s licence condition of $1.5 million per year in expenditures on original programming with new conditions that will require Séries+ to dedicate potentially more than $7.8 million per year to acquire or produce French-language Canadian content. Out of that amount, more than $4.5 million could be specifically devoted to drama, comedy, musical or variety shows, per year.

In total, for the four large groups, more than $1.1 billion will be invested in French-language Canadian programming over the next five years, including $460 million for drama, comedy, musical or variety shows.

We were also criticized for allowing the francophone services to no longer produce original Quebec content by allowing them to broadcast dubbed Canadian English content. To which I respond that it is impossible for the dubbing costs to be enough to enable the groups to meet their expenditure requirements. Thus, the groups will have to invest in new Canadian French-language productions specifically for Quebec and the other French-Canadian communities.

Lastly, I would like to remind viewers that cable and satellite distributors must now provide all services on a pick-and-pay basis. Consumers are free to pay only for the services they choose. As such, it is up to consumers to choose to favour the services that provide more original content that reflects them and interests them.

We made these decisions for good reason. I find it unfortunate that the discussion is revolving around data that is actually incorrect. However, I am convinced that our decisions will enable the French-language services to produce engaging, high-quality content that will still promote Quebec and French Canadian culture here and elsewhere.

Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman and CEO, CRTC


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