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Uncertain future for two heads ;community television

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Many teenagers from Esdras-Minville secondary school participate voluntarily in the program “Boulevard 132” on Estran community television (TVCE). (Archive photo)

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The future of two community television stations in Gaspésie have been uncertain since the cable distributor Cogeco announced that it would stop offering its services from Cloridorme to Saint-Maxime-du-Mont-Louis on March 31. p>

The Télé-Soleil community television, in Saint-Maxime-du-Mont-Louis, and the Estran community television, commonly called Télé-Sourire, in Petite-Vallée, must find another broadcaster.

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The village of Saint-Maxime-du-Mont-Louis. (File photo)

Channel 4 subscribers in this territory received a letter from the broadcaster inviting them to find another cable provider from Next April 1st.

By email, Cogeco management explains that this decision was motivated not only by the number of subscribers in this territory but also by the size of the network to be modernized based on the government programs offered and the funds available.

Télé-Sourire was founded in 1991 and is recognized for its programming well anchored in the community with the production of information programs, musical programs and its traditional bingo, not to mention the broadcast of municipal council meetings. /p>LoadingPrivate sale of electricity: voices are being raised to demand more consultations

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This completely local programming is, however, threatened without public financial assistance resulting from a partnership with a cable company.

The organization has an annual operating budget of $70,000. Of this sum, $50,000 comes from the Quebec Ministry of Culture and Communications, but the payment of the money is conditional on programming broadcast on a cable channel.

If we no longer have a broadcaster, the subsidy that comes from the Ministry of Culture and Communications will obviously be much less because the subsidies that exist for web media are less significant.

A quote from Monika Tait , president, Television community de l’Estran

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The president of Estran Community Television is also mayor of Petite-Vallée. She is concerned about the impact of Cogeco's departure on access to local programming and information. (File photo)

This situation further weakens the organization because it compromises the distribution of its bingo, its main source of independent income, which brings in around $10,000 annually. The permit granted by the Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux does not allow this type of content to be broadcast on the web.

The precarious situation of these two organizations worry the Federation of Autonomous Community Televisions of Quebec and illustrate the urgency of reviewing the way of financing these local televisions.

We have them in 15 of our 17 administrative regions. There are five in Gaspésie and they are well established in their environment. It is absolutely necessary that all stakeholders, [not only] the CRTC and the governments but also the cable distributors, understand that this is an element of the vitality of our regions that must be safeguarded.

A quote from Amélie Hinse, general director, Fédération des Télévisions Communautés Autonomes du Québec

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Amélie Hinse is general director of the Federation of Autonomous Community Televisions of Quebec.

However, she still wants to be reassuring about their short-term future.

We have already contacted the Ministry of Culture and Communications to inform them and those we have spoken to are very understanding, explains Ms. Hinse. They're not going to withhold their funding overnight because these two TVs lost their cable company.

The priority, in the short term, will be to find another cable company. Currently, Telus is the only other broadcaster in this territory.

The management of Estran Community Television will meet representatives of this company next week. She will be accompanied by the Federation of Independent Community Televisions of Quebec in order to evaluate possible solutions.

Obviously, what we are going to put The front is how important community television is in these sectors for local programming and for access to local information for these citizens. [We will also] see how Telus can participate in the development of these two TVs by broadcasting their content, adds Ms. Hinse.

Even if this solution seems to be a last-ditch solution, it is far from ideal, explains Monika Tait, who is also mayor of Petite-Vallée. In fact, the broadcaster relies on its own local television channel, but it buys content from external producers which is broadcast throughout Quebec where Telus is present.

MaCommunauté is community TV, but we don't have a specific channel, so we would be diluted through all that and we wouldn't be able to broadcast programs like bingo, for example, adds Ms. Tait.

Rogers eliminates its French-speaking community TV station in the Acadian Peninsula

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At the end of last November, Ottawa announced that it had reached an agreement with the web giant Google to pay royalties of up to $100 million per year to support Canadian media.

The Federation of Autonomous Community Televisions of Quebec explains that it is too early to determine what share its 41 members will be able to get.

The possibility will be there, but among the obligations that had been mentioned, there was the requirement to have at least two journalists working for the media […]. There could be several of our members who cannot respond [to this condition], concludes the general director of the Federation.

From here on March 31, the community television stations of Saint-Maxime-du-Mont-Louis and Petite-Vallée will maintain their usual programming.

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