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Children's Programming Needs To Be Protected, Advocacy Group Tells CRTC

By KJ Mullins     Apr 13, 2008 in Entertainment
Some of the best of Canadian television programming takes place on children's shows. No longer is Canadian kids TV just for the kids of the Great White North as in the days of "Mr. Dressup" and "The Friendly Giants."
Today's children's programming is seen worldwide and gaining more fans every season. The Shaw Rocket Fund, a private, not-for-profit corporation provides millions in funding wants the CRTC to protect the venue as it spreads through the world.
"We have a responsibility as a country to ensure that our kids are able to see programming that represents Canada and Canadian values and Canadian sensibilities," Agnes Augustin, president of the Shaw Rocket Fund, said in a recent interview from Calgary.
In the past eight years the Rocket Fund has given Canadian-produced kids and family programs about $96 million. "Degrassi: The Next Generation," "Ghost Trackers" and "Heartland" have all benefited from the funding.
The fund supply comes almost entirely from Calgary-based Shaw Communications. The cable giant is arguing with the CRTC to open up the market so that it can meet the demands of subscribers who want American super channels HBO and the like.
In Canada kids watch mostly Canadian television, gaining an appreciation for programming that comes from within the nation.
"If kids are watching Canadian programming and learn to appreciate Canadian television when they're children, then they'll likely watch Canadian programming when they're adults as well," she said.
The key issue in front of CRTC is genre protection, which the Writers Guild of Canada insists children's programming in particular needs. Genre protection shields Canadian specialty channels, including the Food Network and TSN from competition from foreign and Canadian competition.
Without genre protection children's programming could seriously be jeopardized. YTV, Teletoon and Family are all Canadian shows. If foreign channels, particularly American channels were introduced these shows could suffer.
"Given the lack of children's programming on the conventional networks and particularly CTV and Global, it is essential to Canada's children and youth that genre exclusivity continues to support a strong children's programming industry," the guild's submission said.
The same points are expected to be made by the Alliance for Children and Television later next week when they meet with CRTC.
In the past four years Canadian children's programming has taken off and become valued in other markets.
"Canadian children's programming is among the most respected in the world," Augustin says. "The networks have their positions and the cable companies have their positions on what the CRTC should do, but our position is simply this: there must be enough funding and enough Canadian programming available to our kids."
More about Canadian children programming, Crtc, Canada
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