FRIENDS of Canadian Broadcasting celebrated its 20th birthday in 2007.
FRIENDS has made its mark over the years, challenging broadcasters, pushing politicians, and advocating for more and better Canadian programs to balance the deluge of American shows that constantly wash across the border.
During the past twenty years, FRIENDS has established itself as an effective media watchdog organization supported today by more than 100,000 Canadians.
FRIENDS believes Canadian viewers and listeners are more than just ears and eyes to be delivered to advertisers. We are citizens deserving of a broadcasting system that informs, enlightens and entertains us from a Canadian point of view.
We believe the media is the life blood of democracy, delivering diverse information to citizens and allowing Canadians to message the powerful. We also believe that telling Canadian stories builds an essential sense of belonging in this diverse land.
In short, Canadian broadcast media are essential to preserving Canada as an independent country on the northern half of the North American continent.
These are the values that have guided FRIENDS' work for the past 20 years.
In 1987, FRIENDS' founders were inspired by the shocking realization that by the age of 12, the average Canadian child has watched 12,000 hours of television, 9,000 hours of which was American. The same child had attended only 6,000 hours of school. The generation of Canadian children growing up during the past 20 years has been raised on steady diet of stories about Los Angeles, Detroit and New Orleans - not Halifax, Chicoutimi or Edmonton.
This was the theme of one of the full page advertisements FRIENDS' founders placed in the Globe and Mail to protest a deep and harmful cut to the budget of the CBC, the single most important provider of Canadian content on radio and television.
During the ensuing years, FRIENDS has intervened in national debates on hundreds of occasions. FRIENDS has created the Dalton Camp Award, an essay competition on the links between media and democracy. And FRIENDS has built a state of the art website featuring a unique database of news coverage about Canadian media.
In its watchdog role, FRIENDS continues to this day to hold all broadcasters - CBC and the private sector - to account for their failures and successes when it comes to showcasing Canada on the small screen and over the airwaves.
While FRIENDS has achieved many important victories over the past two decades, preserving shelf space for Canada on television - our country's most powerful and ubiquitous medium - remains a daunting challenge.
This landmark is an occasion to celebrate our first twenty years of achievement as well as to roll up our sleeves for the next twenty years, because the preservation and promotion of Canadian culture and identity is a work in progress.
To all FRIENDS supporters, new and long standing, "Happy 20th!"