Canada looking at options to help TV

Wed Apr 8, 2009 1:17pm EDT
 
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Canadian government is looking at what it can do to help a television sector hit hard by lower advertising revenues, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Wednesday.

"We are certainly aware of the difficulties that are affecting this sector," he said in New Brunswick in a nationally televised news conference.

"Some of them are longer-term challenges. Some of them have to do obviously with the drop in ad revenue. We've seen dramatic drops particularly because of what's happened in the automobile sector and elsewhere. We are aware of the problem."

Harper was responding to a question about reports the Conservative government was considering a C$150 million ($121 million) fund to help ensure the survival of local television stations and local programing.

"We are looking at options, but the government has not taken any position or does not have anything that I can announce today," Harper said.

Big private broadcasters like CTV and Canwest Global have been particularly hard hit by the lower revenues. The publicly owned Canadian Broadcasting Corp, which gets more than C$1 billion a year in federal funding, has also been feeling the pinch and last month said it would chop 800 of its 9,850 jobs.

($1=$1.23 Canadian)

(Reporting by Randall Palmer; editing by Rob Wilson)