For immediate release
Private television under heavy pressure
TVA Group forced to make deep budget cuts
MONTREAL, June 5, 2019 – TVA Group has been forced to make deep budget cuts in order to reduce its operating expenses and has to eliminate 68 positions. The decision was made necessary by numerous unfair practices that have been undermining the television industry for years. It is the result of government inaction and the failure to modernize the system in order to keep businesses based in Quebec and the rest of Canada competitive.
“The status quo is crippling our industry, weakening our culture and driving us to the cliff’s edge,” says France Lauzière, President and CEO of TVA Group and Chief Content Officer of Quebecor Content. “If we are to remain viable, we must make tough choices to protect the production of original French-language content in Quebec. To the TVA Group employees who unfortunately will be affected by the cuts, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude for your contribution over the years.”
“We have said repeatedly that the situation is urgent. We hope the alarm we are sounding today will convince government and the CRTC to move quickly and take the necessary actions. Our industry can no longer bear the burden of our obsolete broadcasting industry’s contradictions,” Ms. Lauzière added.
The concrete actions that are urgently needed to support the television industry include the following:
- Subscription fees for specialty channels must be rebalanced on the basis of quantifiable, measurable criteria, instead of being based on historical rates that are no longer relevant. For example, it is unfair that with comparable program spending TVA Sports receives almost 40% less in subscription revenues than RDS.
- CBC/Radio-Canada’s mandate should be refocused to make its programming complementary to that of the private broadcasters. In tapping multiple new revenue streams such as TOU.TV EXTRA, and forming distribution partnerships with other broadcasters, the public broadcaster is competing directly with private companies, without even contributing to the Canada Media Fund, thereby bypassing current regulations.
- Unequal regulatory treatment of Canadian businesses and foreign giants must end. Regulations must be eased to promote innovation and creativity by businesses based in Quebec and the rest of Canada so they can compete on a more level playing field with Google, Facebook and other foreign players, which together capture 80% of online advertising revenues in Canada.
- The Copyright Act must be reviewed in order to make giants such as Google News, Facebook and Apple News, which carry journalistic content, pay publishers such as TVA Nouvelles, their fair share.
- Tax fairness is imperative in order to create a foundation for healthy competition. Sales tax and income tax should apply to Netflix as to other businesses, foreign and domestic, physical and virtual.
“The issues we face demand ongoing effort,” Ms. Lauzière concluded. “Until governments tackle the real problems, all other solutions will be short-lived.”