CTF, CBC summoned to Ottawa

The long-awaited review of CBC by the Heritage committee will open with a look at the meltdown at CTF

CBC’s mandate and the current crisis at the Canadian Television Fund are going under the microscope in Ottawa this week as representatives from the network and both sides in the funding fracas are called to speak before Parliament’s Heritage committee.

Last week, the committee agreed to undertake its long-awaited review of the mandate, services and financial health of CBC/Radio-Canada, following a motion put forth by NDP Heritage critic Charlie Angus. The committee also approved a motion to investigate the recent events at CTF, still reeling from the pullout by Shaw Communications and Videotron.

Though separate, the studies will be connected, says Angus, ‘in the sense that there’s not much point talking about CBC’s mandate if you don’t know what’s happening with CTF.’

‘What comes out of the CTF hearings will play into the overall picture of CBC and its future.’

The CTF hearings will start on Feb. 8 with appearances by CTF chairman Doug Barrett and president Valerie Creighton, CFTPA chief Guy Mayson and APFTQ director general Claire Samson. Bev Oda, the heritage minister, is expected to appear on Feb. 13, followed by CBC reps on Feb. 15.

The more lengthy review of CBC/SRC is expected to start by the end of the month, though a firm schedule has not been set.

‘Every time we’ve had a meeting there’ve been about two or three new motions coming up,’ says committee chair Gary Schellenberger.

Calls for comment from Shaw Communications and Videotron were not returned. Both cable companies recently caused a panic among TV-makers by pulling their support from CTF, leaving a $25-million gap in its 2006/07 ledgers, according to the fund.

The review of CBC will include a look at its budget, its various TV, radio and new media platforms, and its mandate as spelled out in the 1991 Broadcasting Act.