Don't all jump up at once.
Looks like CBC has finally figured out that it can no longer shake down the taxpayers or find enough willing advertisers to make up the shortfall.
If CBC's application to the CRTC to allow it to offer pay TV services goes through, we'll finally find out if the parlour pinks in the Annex will cough up a couple bucks a month for their favourite programming:
The evolving television environment raises two fundamental challenges for the Commission in respect of conventional television.
First and foremost is the need to develop a regulatory framework that will provide a sustainable financial model for conventional television. Canada’s conventional broadcasters are the only television programming undertakings uniquely dependent on advertising revenues to sustain their operations. The current reliance on advertising will soon be under threat on numerous fronts and will in the near future not provide a viable basis for financing the cultural, technological and business goals of conventional broadcasters.
At a time when major investments must be made in new technologies and when there is a strong regulatory demand for increased Canadian content, especially more expensive drama programming, the financial realities facing conventional broadcasters are becoming extremely challenging. Content will continue to be king, and conventional broadcasters, like all content providers, will need to have a robust financial return for the content they provide to others.
But it isn't just the fear of losing money that's motivating CBC to go the pay TV route. It's also facing the prospect of people no longer being able to watch it at all, even if they want to:
Second, the major technological shift from analogue to HD digital television raises serious issues regarding both the funding of this transition and the economic efficiency of retaining over-the-air transmission in many regions of the country.
There are two over-riding factors that emerge in a review of over-the-air television and the transition to digital/HD television. First, the transition to digital/HD television will continue to be extremely costly and lack a supporting business case. Second, distribution of television signals via over-the-air technology has increasingly become a less effective means to reach large audiences.
The combination of the rapid decline in over-the-air reception levels in smaller, more rural markets, and the less rapid decline in reception levels in many major Canadian centres, has inspired CBC/Radio-Canada to develop a flexible approach to its on-going and future investments in over-the-air infrastructure. In particular, CBC/Radio-Canada is investigating a hybrid proposal – using both over-the-air infrastructure and cable/satellite delivery – that it believes provides the most appropriate and efficient means to make its services available throughout Canada as required under the Broadcasting Act.
CBC's hope is that pay TV will cover the cost of most of its over-the-air broadcasting. Assuming, of course, that they'll still be able to keep generating ad revenue and getting government grants every year.
The CBC can ride out even the most hostile of Conservative governments; it cannot ride out an industry-wide technology shift.
Perhaps now we'll get the thorough review and reorganization of CBC that it so desperately needs.
Or maybe it'll just be same garbage, different pile.