Canadian Content - It Matters
FRIENDS of Canadian Broadcasting remains firmly in support of the concept and requirement that radio and television stations broadcast a measure of made-in-Canada programming. No other country comes close to Canada in keeping its airwaves open to foreign programming. With the helpful addition of new specialty channels and the prospect of digital radio, Canadians will continue to have extraordinary access to news and entertainment from around the world.
However, the evidence suggests that without Canadian content requirements, market forces fail to ensure "shelf space" for homegrown productions. Consider what's shown in Canadian theatres. Ninety seven per cent of the movies shown in theatres in Canada are of foreign origin. No other western country comes close to this measure of off-shore culture in its theatres.
Canadian content requirements on radio require stations to play a minimum percentage of Canadian music each day. While it would have been easier and cheaper to follow the movie theatre model - letting the market rule - Canadian content laws have given great Canadian artists a chance to get their start in our market.
Canadian content has delivered on so many fronts. Musicians, song-writers and performers have been able to win a following in Canada. Their success at home has opened opportunities in other markets that in turn bring economic benefits to all Canadians. As a source of pride, performers such as Céline Dion, The Barenaked Ladies and The Tragically Hip all contribute to our sense of place in the world. As a natural consequence of their art form, many of their songs remind of us of our shared history.
Seeing who we are, how we feel and what we believe is a task worth the investment. It is also a task best met by Canadians.
Setting the Stage for Canadian Content - What's Needed
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Defend the CBC against enemies of public broadcasting. Restore CBC's fiscal capacity so that it can reduce its dependence upon commercial revenue and re-invigorate its regional and local roots in communities across Canada. Ensure appointments to CBC's governing Board are appointed at arm's length from government.
Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission
Monitor CRTC decisions and policies. Reform the Commission's appointments process to ensure efficient decision-making by talented individuals who can serve the public interest at arm's length protected from political interference and industry lobbyists.
Telefilm and the Canadian Television Fund
Consolidate Telefilm and the Canadian Television Fund so the public's money is invested in high Canadian production value products which reach substantial numbers of Canadian viewers.
Private Conventional Television
Ensure more adequate performance in Canadian content spending by private conventional broadcasters - the "black sheep" of our audio-visual system. Monitor their spending on foreign programming as well as their use of public funds. Enhance public awareness of the gap between their promises and their performance.
Encourage the CRTC to ensure that specialty channels increase their investment in high production value Canadian television consistent with their financial capacity.
Monitor and encourage the enhancement of programming by Vision TV and the Aboriginal People's Television Network.
Provincial Education Broadcasters
Encourage the financial and programming capacity of provincial educational broadcasters, as well as collaboration among them. Monitor their governance and expose threats to their arm's-length relationships with the political leadership of their respective governments.
Cable and Satellite Distributors
Monitor the behaviour of the largest distributors towards the broadcasters they carry and the viewers they serve. Highlight conflicts of interest arising from big cable's ownership of specialty channels. Track the activities of the cable lobby in Ottawa.
Foreign Ownership of Broadcasting Licensees
Preserve existing restrictions on foreign ownership of Canadian broadcasting licensees, which are already more generous than comparable restrictions in the United States.
Concentration of Ownership
Endorse the recommendation of the all-party Parliamentary Committee to address the growing threat of media concentration. While other countries have moved to further restrict cross ownership of media and media concentration, Canada sits idle. Our "anything goes" approach undermines the health of Canadian democracy.