One Free World International Calls Threat Facing VisionTV a Threat to Religious Freedom
New CRTC rules allow cable and satellite providers to drop the multi-faith, multi-cultural channel from their most affordable "basic" packages where it has been a mainstay for 25 years.
TORONTO, Ontario, Feb. 4, 2013 /Christian Newswire
/ -- For 25 years, VisionTV has been Canada's leading broadcaster for interfaith dialogue, and the world's only national multi-faith and multi-cultural specialty television service. The channel is available in 10 million households across Canada on basic cable and satellite service. However, the public's access to VisionTV is now being threatened in what has been described by One Free World International founder Majed El Shafie as a threat to freedom of religion.
Beginning on April 23, 2013, the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) will hold hearings to decide whether or not to grant VisionTV the "mandatory distribution" status that would protect its place in the "basic" cable and satellite lineup. If this order is denied by the CRTC, television distributors will likely relegate VisionTV to discretionary specialty packages that will impair access for millions of Canadians who cannot afford premium service and, in the long term, jeopardize VisionTV's very existence.
The threat to VisionTV is of concern not only to people of faith, but to all Canadians that believe in the value of multiculturalism and religious freedom. VisionTV is the only channel in North America that provides space for multi-faith programming and expression, as it provides national airtime for between 70-90 ethno-cultural and religious groups – including Christian ministries, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jewish and non-denominational spiritual groups.
"We must defend multi-culturalism and freedom of religion in Canada," says One Free World International founder Majed El Shafie, who has joined the fight to keep VisionTV available to all Canadians. "The threat facing VisionTV is nothing less than a threat to freedom of religion, and we cannot remain silent. People of all faiths must stand up and let their voices be heard."
In addition to religious programming, VisionTV offers popular Canadian, British and American entertainment programming that deals with spiritual, moral, ethical and social issues and values. Such programming includes award-winning British comedy and drama series including Downtown Abbey; Nostalgic favorites such as The Waltons and Touched By An Angel; Gospel sing-along programs including Gaither Gospel Hour; Classic and contemporary American films such as Seven Years in Tibet, Cocoon and Bruce Almighty; and insightful and engaging Canadian documentaries from independent producers, creating jobs for Canadians. In fact, VisionTV is arguably the biggest buyer or commissioner of original documentaries celebrating a variety of spiritual, moral, ethical, and social issues and values. The channel has invested nearly $40 million in the past seven years, triggering $110 million in independent production budgets.
In response to the new CRTC rules, VisionTV is launching PROTECT YOUR VISION, a campaign calling on Canadians to help support its application to the CRTC for continued distribution on basic cable and satellite services. The deadline for public participation in this process is February 20, 2013.
One Free World International joins VisionTV in asking for the public's help. Sign the online petition
. For information on contacting CRTC, your Member of Parliament or your cable or satellite provider, visit www.onefreeworldinternational.org