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WINNIPEG, MANITOBA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--JAN. 19, 1995--CANWEST GLOBAL (TSE, WINNIPEG STOCK EXCHANGE: CWW) The CRTC and previous federal governments have failed the public and the broadcast industry by being taken prisoner by the "Maestros of Monopoly", the cable industry, according to I.H. Asper, Q.C., Chief Executive Officer of CanWest Global Communications Corp., Canada's largest private sector broadcaster.

In calling for an 18-point program of sweeping reforms to Canadian Broadcast Policy, Asper stated that the CRTC has clearly demonstrated a policy bias against Canada's conventional, free- to-air broadcasters.

Addressing CanWest's Annual Meeting on Thursday, Mr. Asper expressed his concern that "those who regulate our industry seem to have lost their way....our policy-makers, hypnotized by the liturgical chanting of fear and premonitions of Apocalypse Now, in the form of Death Stars (read satellite)and Telecom competition by that same cable monopoly, have been stampeded into too many ill-considered policies" to the detriment of Canada's conventional broadcasters.

He cited two examples of CRTC bias against broadcasters. The Commission required the cable industry to pay the Canadian cable networks (Specialty Channels) $323 million for their signals in 1993 but refused to order the cable operators to pay anything to regular broadcasters, who attract 90 percent of the audience for Canadian programs.

His most vigorous criticism of CRTC bias against terrestrial broadcasters, arose from its refusal to licence a new conventional Canadian network in Alberta last year.

"It is over 30 years since a new broadcaster has been licensed in Alberta, despite it being one of the fastest growing and most prosperous television markets in Canada. Yet, in spite of massive public support, the Commission, turned down two credible over-the-air applications," Asper said.

"Then, as if to pour salt into the wound, the Commission immediately authorized the entry of the American Fox Network into Alberta," he said, along with another 10 cable networks. The present Commission "has zapped the development of conventional free television and.....turned over the entire the Captains of Cable."

He called on the federal government to issue a new Policy Directive calling for major reforms, some of which are that:

1. The cable monopoly on television distribution must end.

2. Broadcasters should be given Copyright protection on their signals and have the right to charge for the signals or withhold them from cable or other carriers.

3. The cable carriers should be required to offer a small basic cable package of the Canadian broadcasters plus the four American networks at a nominal cost to consumers.

4. The $1.2 billion annual government subsidy to the CBC should be axed and CBC converted to a private-sector funded public broadcaster, like the American PBS.

5. The government should direct the CRTC to take such steps as are necessary to facilitate the formation of a new Third National TV system.

6. New Specialty Cable Network licences should be issued to all who meet objective criteria, leaving it up to them to market their services to a public which has the right to accept or reject them.

Mr. Asper stated that these and many other proposals have been submitted in a brief to the CRTC this week. Public hearings into future Canadian Broadcast Policy have been ordered by the Ministers of Heritage and Industry, Hon. Michel Dupuy and Hon. John Manley. They are anticipated in March of this year.

CONTACT: I.H. Asper, Q.C.

Tel. 416/446-5358 or 204/956-2025


P.M. Liba, C.M.

Tel. 416-446-5358 or 204-956-2025 REPEATS: New York 212-575-8822 or 800-221-2462; Boston 617-330-5311 or
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Jan 19, 1995
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