#50 – Of turkeys and television and other thanksgivings.

American Thanksgiving always reminds me of my favourite episode of WKRP in Cincinnati that first aired in November, 1978. It is not everyone’s favourite. People who already knew about the non-flying habits of turkeys were profoundly shocked by the premise of the episode. It was the one where the station manager (played so well by the late Gordon Jump) decided to drop live turkeys from a helicopter. The ‘on-air’ reports to the station by reporter Les Nessman (played by Richard Sanders) were a comedy classic.

You’ve got to admit that American television has certainly given us a lot of turkeys over the years. Nothing like Ivan Fecan, president and CEO  of CTVglobmedia, did at the recent television hearings in Gatineau, Quebec. Mr. Fecan is that nice looking white haired guy who regularly shows up in a well-fitted tuxedo at gatherings of the Toronto aristocracy that are worthy of coverage by CTV news. It is occasionally mentioned by the newscasters who he is but those who count, already know.

Ivan was in Gatineau to have a chat with his friend Konrad von Finckenstein, chair of the Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). Ivan’s friend Konrad is the guy who regulates television, radio, telephone, cable and satellite companies. Ivan was there to tell the CRTC commissioners that they should tell the cable companies to pay something like 75 cents per month per subscriber for carrying his local signals. That might sound reasonable until Toronto-area viewers figure out that he is adding at least $8.25 per month to their cable or satellite bill. You might be willing to pay 75 cents each month for Desperate Housewives on CTV but you would also have to pay 75 cents each for channels you might never watch. That is when the turkey droppings get more serious.

Ivan is the guy responsible for all those annoying commercials on Canadian television about the TV Tax or cows stealing milk(?). Those advertisements drew more than 14 thousand letters and e-mails to the CRTV either supporting or complaining about the TV Tax. One of the complaints was my blog of October 14: #41 – Making sense of the broadcaster vs. cable/satellite wars.

It is quite unlikely that Ivan is worried about what the public might say. His writers are probably quite busy writing short (seven-minutes is all you get) speeches for all the pro-tax friends who will be appearing. The reason Ivan does not look worried is because I think he has the Ace up his sleeve. The Ace, in this case, is his friend von Finckenstein’s boss: the Prime Minister. There is no proof of this but, it seems very logical that Ivan is the only guy with the chutzpah to call his buddy Stephen Harper and tell him how serious he is about getting money out of the cable and satellite companies. Since Stephen Harper got where he is with a little help from Ivan, Ivan figures Stephen owes him this one.

Since the Prime Minister’s Office has told Konrad von Finckenstein that the Cabinet will be making this decision for him and his commissioners, Ivan has little to worry about. All those of us who are opposed can do is go to the public meeting and stir up whatever trouble we can with whatever news media can be stirred. I expect to be appearing for my seven minutes of infamy late on Wednesday morning, December 9. If you want to watch and have broadband Internet service, I suggest you watch on the CRTC video feed through www.cpac.ca It should be a fun event.

– 30 –

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to peter@lowry.me

Comments are closed.