Letter from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

2 August 2006

 

Mr. Glenn O’Farrell
President and CEO
Canadian Association of Broadcasters
306-350 Sparks Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1P 5S2
Fax: 613-233-6961

Re: CAB’s 2005-06 Report on Diversity in Broadcasting

Dear Mr. O’Farrell:

Thank you for the CAB’s first annual Report on Diversity in Broadcasting, filed with the Commission 28 April 2006, in response to Commission’s response to the report of the Task Force for Cultural Diversity on Television, Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2005-24, issued 21 March 2005 (PN 2005-24).

In PN 2005-24, the Commission directed the CAB to report annually on its progress in implementing all of the Task Force for Cultural Diversity on Television’s initiatives. The CAB’s report addresses those initiatives specifically directed to the CAB, including: the development of the CAB’s “Diversity in Broadcasting” website; a significant range of communication activities concerning diversity with broadcasters, industry partners, stakeholders, government representatives, the media and community organizations; an ongoing commitment to focus on diversity at the CAB’s annual convention, via keynote speakers, sessions on diversity as well as a range of Gold Ribbon award categories celebrating diversity in programming; and finally, the CAB’s review of its industry codes, of which the Commission expects to receive a revised code in July 2006.

In the Commission’s view, the CAB’s efforts in all of the above areas are commendable. The report demonstrates a considerable level of commitment on the part of the CAB to lead the Canadian broadcasting industry in addressing diversity objectives. In particular, the Commission considers the CAB’s strategy of integrating diversity throughout its operating environment – including document and website accessibility training for staff, the establishment of a permanent Working Committee on Diversity, discussing diversity-related matters in a wide range of CAB committees, using a wide array of communications tools to reach and educate its membership about diversity concerns – to be an exemplary demonstration of its leadership and commitment in this area.

The Commission also notes the CAB’s plans for 2006-07, including an emphasis on efforts to develop resources for its members concerning persons with disabilities, such as materials on the use of inappropriate language in news and information programming and the development of a brochure to address the lack of participation in the broadcasting and production industries by persons with disabilities. These initiatives are important first steps towards addressing the key gaps identified by the CAB’s research entitled The Presence, Portrayal and Participation of Persons with Disabilities in Television Programming, as set out in Commission’s response to the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ final report on the presence, portrayal and participation of persons with disabilities in television programming, Broadcasting Public Notice 2006-77, 19 June 2006. The Commission looks forward to learning of the CAB’s progress in responding to both PN 2005-24 and 2006-77 in its next annual diversity report.

Finally, in PN 2005-24, the Commission further directed the CAB to develop and implement initiatives that specifically target the serious systemic gaps concerning the virtual absence of Aboriginal peoples in mainstream television and the significant under-representation of Asian-Canadians on-screen. While it is clear that the CAB has made strides in working with Aboriginal organizations, media outlets and producers as part of its communication and outreach efforts, specific plans to develop and implement initiatives to address Aboriginal peoples’ absence on-screen were not clearly articulated in the CAB’s 2005-06 report. Similarly, the report did not identify specific efforts to address the on-screen under-representation of Asian-Canadians. Accordingly, the Commission looks forward to the CAB’s progress in this regard in its 2006-07 report. The Commission will rely on your reports, along with the annual progress reports of individual broadcasters, to evaluate the extent to which the industry’s efforts in all of these important areas result in improvements on-screen over time.

As set out in PN 2005-24, as part of that evaluation process, the Commission will also assess whether regulatory intervention continues to be required, including the scope and timing of any future content analysis.

 

Sincerely,

Original signed by Diane Rhéaume

Diane Rhéaume
Secretary General
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission