Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Aboriginal Peoples' Television Network and Women in Film and Television submissions to CBC/Radio Canada licence renewal hearings

 The CRTC is currently conducting hearings about the renewal of the CBC/Radio Canada's broadcasting licence.  Among the various interveners are the Aboriginal Peoples' Television Network (APTN), scheduled to appear Friday (January 15, 2021) and Women in Film and Television (WIFT) Vancouver, scheduled to appear Monday (January 18, 2021).

Aboriginal Peoples' Television Network (APTN)

In their written submission, APTN supports the licence renewal, and notes that "APTN has worked together with CBC/Radio Canada on numerous projects over the years to advance Indigenous reflection on CBC/Radio Canada – while also ensuring meaningful Indigenous participation" (para 3).  

At the same time, it notes that the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples declares that "Indigenous peoples have the right to establish their own media in their own languages and to have access to all forms of non-indigenous media without discrimination," and that "States shall take effective measures to ensure that State-owned media duly reflect indigenous cultural diversity" (Article 16).

APTN argues that the CBC/Radio Canada, and the federal government more broadly, have failed to recognize the important role of Indigenous media, particularly in the North (para 18-19), and that there is tension--including tension over resources--between Indigenous-controlled broadcasting and the CBC/Radio Canada (para. 20).  CBC/Radio Canada's funding has increased far more significantly than has the Northern Aboriginal Broadcasting Program (para 23). Quoting Spoken from the Heart, an important report on Indigenous radio in Canada prepared under the direction of Monique Manatch, APTN notes, "When finite resources are channeled to CBC to do the work of representing Indigenous realities, Indigenous community media are left battling for what funds are left. This leaves them in an environment of scarcity when trying to tell their own stories, in their own voices" (para 30, quoting Spoken from the Heart).

APTN recommends that the CBC/Radio Canada "should use its public resources to enhance and extend the impact of the more limited resources available to Indigenous services" (para 33) and that "CBC/Radio Canada's primary role with respect to Indigenous Peoples should be a role of reflection and support for Indigenous creators and Indigenous-controlled media" (para 34).  The Indigenous Screen Office "should have a direct role to play in setting standards for Indigenous content, which should then be applicable to CBC/Radio Canada" (para 34).  As well, "the measures we have outlined should be jointly developed in consultation with Indigenous Peoples, including Indigenous media, and set out in a formal protocol to be submitted to the CRTC" (para 35).  

The entire submission, and the rest of the recommendations, are available here.

Women in Film and Television (WIFT) Vancouver

WIFT Vancouver's written submission notes the CBC's success with its "women director initiative in its prime time programming" (para 18), but emphasizes the inadequacy of CBC data reporting on gender. WIFT recommends that "the CRTC require the CBC to adhere, by Condition of Licence, to the same structured reporting requirements as the private broadcasters under Bulletin CRTC" 2019-304.  

Concerned that "the growing trend of platform viewing is currently skewing male," WIFT Vancouver suggests that the CBC shoudl actively "work to bring women and diverse viewers into this trend," rather than simply "feed[ing] into this demographic with their online content" (para 22), while also ensuring that "specific audiences (such as women or Indigenous viewers) are not being driven to lower budget fare, as is currently being evidenced in the CBC’s viewership report" (para 24).  

Here is the full written submission.