August 15, 2007

CRTC De-Regulation of Advertising Correspondence

Earlier this spring, C-CAVE President, Rose Dyson, responded to a country wide call for media scholars, educators and activists to protest the CRTC decision to de-regulate advertising. The following correspondence is an outgrowth of her initiative. Your comments would be very much appreciated.

***************************DATED JULY 16, 2007

Ms. Rose Dyson
rdyson@oise.utoronto.ca

Dear Ms. Dyson:

Thank you for your correspondence of May 22, 2007, co-addressed to the Prime Minister regarding the decision of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) concerning advertising on Canadian television networks.

I appreciate your advising me of your views on this matter and have noted your comments. While the Department of Canadian Heritage is responsible for overall broadcasting policy and legislation, the CRTC is responsible for the licensing, regulation and supervision of all aspects of the Canadian broadcasting system. The Commission was established by Parliament under the Broadcasting Act as an autonomous body that operates independently of the Government and is responsible for its own day-to-day operations and decisions. In view of the autonomy of the CRTC, you might wish to share your concerns directly with the Secretary General of the Commission at the address provided in the enclosure.

Canada’s successful broadcasting model is the result of a regulatory system that carefully balances many social, cultural and economic needs, including the needs of the consumer. The CRTC is constantly responding to the changing needs and circumstances of the Canadian broadcasting system. The Commission’s decisions flow from consultative public processes where it receives comments from a large number of parties representing a broad array of interests.

The regulation of advertising was one of a number of issues considered by the CRTC in its review of certain aspects of its regulatory framework for over-the-air television in Canada. Most parties had no objection to deregulating non-traditional forms of advertising such as product placement and “virtual advertising” or the digital alteration of images, but were divided on whether the 12 minutes per hour limit on traditional advertising should be eliminated. On May 17, 2007, the CRTC determined that it will gradually increase the allowable number of minutes of advertising per hour until September 2009, when time restrictions on advertising will be entirely eliminated.

The CRTC recognized that, for the foreseeable future, over-the-air television services would continue to provide the largest audiences and make the most significant contribution to the production and exhibition of Canadian programming. The Commission therefore considered it essential that these broadcasters be granted the flexibility to maximize their advertising revenues, to help them respond to the negative impact of audience fragmentation and the uncertain financial outlook for conventional television.

I trust that this information is useful. Please accept my best wishes.

Yours sincerely,

Bev Oda, P.C., M.P.

Enclosure
ANNEX
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)

Secretary General
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0N2

Telephone: 819-997-0313
Toll-free: 1-877-249-2782
Facsimile: 819-994-0218
Web site: http://www.crtc.gc.ca

***************************DATED JULY 16, 2007

Dear Minister Bev Oda, P.C., M.P.

Thank you for your reply of July 16, 2007 regarding the decision of the CRTC concerning advertising on Canadian television networks. In your response you indicate that most parties have no objection to deregulating non-traditional forms of advertising such as product placement and "virtual advertising" or the digital alteration of images, but were divided on whether the 12 minutes per hour limit on traditional advertising should be eliminated.

Surely you do not include most teachers, health professionals, peace activists, cultural environmentalists and media scholars concerned about increasing financial encroachment into the lives of all of us but especially children who are the most vulnerable members of society. Indeed, were these sectors of society ever even consulted and if so, who precisely was representing them?

Canadian parents and teachers are extremely concerned about increasing violence on television - 286 percent in 10 years according to Laval University researchers. This was pointed out in the House of Commons in January of this year by Bloc members who introduced Bill C-327 to amend the Broadcast Act to make it easier for the CRTC to respond to viewers' complaints. This Bill was defeated by your Government and Liberal M.Ps.

You have also chosen to ignore growing alarm across the country about rising levels of obesity with numerous health problems surfacing in children such as diabetes and heart disease. This is occurring both from advertising of junk food and as a result of the sedentary nature of more and more time spent on electronic entertainment. There is also the obvious need to teach children values that are less consumer driven if we are to become more pro-active in changing lifestyles to reduce, re-use and recycle goods in the process of preparing ourselves for a sustainable future.

Most countries in the Western world are responding to public concerns about the commercial exploitation of children by adopting legislation such as that which already exists in the province of Quebec, Scandinavian countries, Australia, New Zealand, Greece, Malta and other parts of Europe, banning advertising directed toward children on the basis of research showing harmful effects. The U.K. Switzerland and Italy joined the list earlier this year

Why are such initiatives not being taken in the rest of Canada? If the CRTC has somehow managed to overlook these trends toward greater public accountibility on the part of both broadcast media and the advertising industry you, as Minister of Heritage, owe it to Canadians to send them back to the drawing board.

I should point out, that in my capacity of President of Canadians Concerned About Violence In Entertainment and as chair of the Media Working Group for Science for Peace, I have joined the nation wide Coalition for Greater Media Accountability which has sprung up in protest to the decision reached by the CRTC on May 17, 2007, to gradually increase the allowable number of minutes of advertising per hour until September 2009, when time restrictions on advertising will be eliminated entirely.

Sincerely

Rose Dyson
********************************************************************** Rose Anne Dyson, Ed.D.
Chair: C-CAVE and the Media Working Group - Science for Peace (University of Toronto)
Editor- The Learning Edge
Author of MIND ABUSE: Media Violence In An Information Age
Co-author of MEDIA, SEX, VIOLENCE and DRUGS in the GLOBAL VILLAGE and Terrorism, Globalization & Mass Communication