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The CRTC is abdicating its responsibilities by John McMurtry

Jun 21, 2014

Source: Guelph Mercury

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) once regulated Canada's enormously valuable public airwaves to operate in the public interest in return for their very profitable private exploitation.

The agency maintained a major free public space in radio and television for programming that is not filled with commercial shouting, and not programmed solely for mass sales by big private corporations.

Now, the CRTC submits to one lobby demand after another for more total private corporate control of the public airwaves, with a Big Oil-dominated government in Ottawa hostile to any public interest whatever, except more corporate-market control of everything.

This is how a culture is made to collapse into ever more private money-sequence pathways controlling all public communication for an ulterior, self-serving motive that's inimical to truth, art and freedom of understanding.

Every new twist in CRTC policy conforms to this underlying meta-program of private corporate monopoly and the degradation of all of Canada's public airwaves.

What mention is ever made by the CRTC of more advanced public broadcasting systems in Britain and France that enable programming without ads, or confine them, where they are allowed, to block periods between programming?

What else could explain the fact that the CRTC does not even mention the CBC itself?

Which new policy possibility promoted by the CRTC does not do the opposite without acknowledging the choice? Which does not reduce the space for telling Canadian stories and arts without foreign and commercial control or erasure by commercial scale homogenization? Which does not lead the screen-addicted younger generations into worship of commercial culture and commodities disconnected from Canada's life and meaning in the world?

The CRTC has the power to do the opposite — to above all ensure a true public broadcasting system at the core that's not driven by mindless corporate ads and the corporate agenda — but its public mandate has been evidently subjugated to regulatory capture by corporate lobbies and big money demands.

The pick-and-pay model is the result: commercial market rule is now built in as absolute, with not even the regulation of the prices charged for Canadians accessing their own public airwaves, or editorial independence from advertisers, or access to advertising revenues its stations carry into Canada.

The rapid drift into the conditions for complete eradication of any Canadian public interest or presence in Canada's public airwaves is being promoted by the once proud CRTC itself.

It's perhaps the greatest disgrace in the history of Canada's public institutions and a cumulative cultural genocide at the same time.

The direction should be the opposite in all respects, as it is in the most successful public broadcasting systems. Otherwise, the CRTC becomes effectively abolished by its own capitulation to the dark forces of ignorance, commercial propaganda and abdication of the public's electromagnetic spectrum and communication capacities themselves, when they have never been more needed in Canada and the world.

John McMurtry

Guelph

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