Thursday, November 25, 2004

What You Feel

I received a curious phone call today, from a representative of CTV Newsnet. They've apparently scoured through the public records to talk to those five-hundred-odd cranks who wrote to the CRTC in favour of Fox News' admission to the Canadian broadcast market, appealing for help in similarly intervening to Big Brother on their behalf. The PR guy I spoke with was kind enough to ask my permission before sending me an e-mail with all the pertinent information, which I appreciate: Dear Mr. [Denton], This is Craig Gibson from CTV News in Toronto. As a previous intervener to the CRTC in support of the Fox News Channel being allowed on Canadian cable and satellite systems, I am hoping you might be able to support a change in licence for CTV Newsnet, the 24-Hour Headline News Channel by writing a letter to the CRTC. Basically, a CRTC restriction placed on Newsnet's broadcast licence requires us to air two minutes of headlines, weather and either business/sports/entertainment/or health, every 15 minutes. This means when we are covering live news conferences or breaking news events, we must stop our coverage, give the headlines, and then resume the coverage two minutes later. This is jarring to viewers and does not serve their interests. The request to the CRTC is to eliminate this restriction. CTV did not oppose Fox News coming to Canada. In fact, CTV believes Canadians should have access to a wide variety of viewpoints and opinions on our airwaves. We are requesting this change because we want a level playing field, where CTV has the journalistic freedom to make professional decisions in the best interest of providing comprehensive and responsible news coverage to as many Canadians as possible. Also, we want to have the ability to have one of the best headline news services in the market so we can compete fairly with the American news services. Here is a package with more in-depth information about why CTV Newsnet wants its licence changed along with a formatted letter. So there are two attachments. One is a letter of explanation which has ideas for points you might want to include in your letter and the other is a template letter where you fill in your own address and comments within the body of the letter. The letter can be as brief or as long as you would like to make it. Please make sure you have the CRTC reference number 2004-0921-0 at the top of your letter. At the end of the letter make sure to put *** end of document*** ... this signals to the CRTC that there have been no electronic errors in getting your letter. Please email the completed letter to the CRTC at procedure@crtc.gc.ca and cc David Spodek at dspodek@ctv.ca The deadline is December 20th, 2004. But the earlier this letter is sent, the better. If you have any further questions you can email me or call me collect at 416.332.7135 Thank you for writing a letter of support. It is much appreciated. Craig Gibson CTV Newsnet. I actually had no idea that the much-derided "CTV FashionFileWorld" aspect of the channel was a mandated part of their broadcast licence. I have no problem with lifting that sort of inane restriction. Plus, despite being part of the nearly-as-biased-as-CBC BellGlobeMedia empire, Mr. Gibson is right - CTV News itself wasn't at all hyperbolic about Fox News' arrival. Nor, interestingly, has this particular appeal only been initiated recently. Googling, I see it's been a going concern for the network since August. I wonder if this direct-appeal-to-the-opinionated approach is? It's mildly amusing to learn that being a letter-writing crank in an atmosphere of general indifference makes my opinion genuinely valuable to another arm of the mainstream media. I'll do it, if only for that little ego-boost, I suppose.

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