TORONTO Canada’s federal cabinet is considering the creation of a $120 million-plus fund to help rescue local TV operations at private broadcasters such as CTV and Canwest Global as their ad revenue tanks in hard times.
Stephen Waddell, national executive director at Canadian actors union ACTRA, welcomed the small-market TV station lifeline Wednesday, but warned Ottawa not to relax Canadian-content obligations.
“If the government or regulator takes that awful step, our broadcasters will be indistinguishable from the U.S. networks,” he said.
And Lise Lareau, president of the Canadian Media Guild, said the fund should be extended to the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., which last month unveiled plans to cut 800 jobs and programming costs to deal with its own TV ad revenue shortfall.
News of a potential Canadian TV bailout comes a day after Canwest Global secured another extension in debt repayment talks with senior lenders.
But as bad as things seem for over-the-air broadcasters, new numbers released Wednesday show that cable providers and those with pay channels in their portfolios have been able to somewhat better withstand the pressures of dwindling TV ad revenue.