For immediate release
(Toronto, 5 February 2011)
In hearings concerning BCE’s proposed takeover of CTV, CRTC Chairman
Konrad von Finckenstein yesterday directed BCE to return Monday with a
clear plan to address the proposal of the Access 2020 Coalition for an
independent fund whose engineering, research and educational work will
ensure complete access by persons with disabilities to broadcasting and
telecommunications by the year 2020.
Led by Media Access Canada, the Access 2020 Coalition of the country’s largest organizations of Canadians with disabilities, asked the CRTC to back a 21st century initiative to launch five project envelopes including technological innovation, empirical research, business plans, program archives and education. “The Coalition’s multi-pronged approach is designed to eliminate the barriers that for decades have prevented millions of persons with disabilities from enjoying available information and entertainment programming,” said Beverley Milligan, Media Access Canada’s Executive Director.
The CRTC pointed out at the last day of its hearing that funds are available to support the Coalition’s Accessibility Initiative. “BCE apparently has $5.7 million set aside from a previous ownership transaction,” said Milligan. “The yearly interest on that – approximately $100,000 –will support roughly a quarter of the annual work needed to change the decades-old approach to accessible broadcasting and telecommunications.” Milligan added that the CRTC also told BCE that its tangible benefits package was low by $13 million.
“Combining the benefits shortfall with unspent money gives BCE the chance to go down in history as the 21st century world leader in digital accessibility,” said Milligan. “We applaud the CRTC’s decision to build a legacy in accessibility by supporting an Initiative that will ensure 100% accessibility for millions of Canadians across all digital platforms, by the year 2020.”
For additional information, or a copy of the Access 2020 Coalition’s intervention, A Bridge to the Future, contact:
Beverley Milligan www.mediac.ca
Executive Director Skype: mediacinc
Media Access Canada 416-488-9521