The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is phasing out the Local Programming Improvement Fund over the next two years.
The fund included a highly controversial fee charged to many cable and satellite companies, who passed the cost onto consumers, to help improve local TV programming. With the fund on the way out, so are the fees—hopefully.
“The fund was created to ensure television stations had the resources to meet Canadians’ needs for local programming,” Leonard Katz, the CRTC’s vice-chairman of telecommunications, said in a statement. “We are satisfied with the support it has provided during a difficult economic period.”
If the cable companies had their way, they'd likely maintain their current prices and pocket the extra cash flow without informing Canadian consumers—we've seen this type of immoral behaviour from them before. But the CRTC wants to make sure consumer bills lower as a result of this move. The national regulator is requiring cable and satellite companies to show this year how they intend to remove the fees from customers' bills and make aware to consumers the costs have been eliminated.
The $100-million fund was established in 2008 to help small-and mid-sized local stations weather the recession. 78 stations received $100 million from the fund in 2010. 80 stations received $106-million in 2011.