Source : National Post
Andrew Coyne views the CRTC's recent decision not to renew the licence of CHOI as an overreaction by the regulator and an affront to freedom of expression (CHOI's Lonely Battle, July 17.). He criticizes Canadian broadcasters for failing to raise an outcry against this decision.
However, Mr. Coyne makes this reasonable point in his opening salvo in a
quite unreasonable attack on the very existence of broadcast regulation in
Canada. Moreover, he commits the error of equating the CRTC's regulation of
offensive content with its mandate to protect space for the broadcast of
Canadian voices, stories and ideas on our airwaves.
Canadian content regulation does not inhibit freedom of expression, nor is it
carried out in an arbitrary manner. Rather, the CRTC makes clear and reasonable requirements for the broadcast of Canadian programming a condition of licence for broadcasters wishing to make use of our public airwaves. It does this to ensure that Canadians are able to watch and hear programming that is their own and to ensure Canada can maintain a production industry capable of creating that programming.
In exchange, Canadian broadcasters are able to operate in a protected
environment, which allows them to survive financially in the face of stiff
foreign competition. As long as Canadian broadcasters keep their side of the
bargain, this is a fair deal, and one that is made by the governments of most
English-speaking countries with their broadcasters.
What would be the consequences of eliminating Canadian content regulation?
Perhaps Mr. Coyne would be happy with the steady diet of cheap U.S. programming that would populate wide-open, unregulated airwaves, but polls show that most Canadians would not. Canadians know that a nation is bound together by a shared mythology, by "defining a story that is unique to the country and rooted in reality." Canadian artists create the mythology. Canadian broadcasters are rightly obligated to broadcast their stories and thus assist in defining and building a nation.
By all means, criticize the CRTC when it takes unreasonable measures against
free expression, but don't make the mistake of jumbling all categories of
regulation together or of calling the whole mandate of the CRTC into question.
Pamela Brand, national executive director/CEO, Directors Guild of Canada,
© National Post