Friday, September 24, 2010

In Defence of the CBC?

Wow, I don't know where to begin with this one. It appears that the CBC (Canadian Broadcast Corporation) is feeling a little threatened. There are a couple articles in the Toronto Star this morning that are written in "defence" of Canadian culture, and dispelling "myths".

Article One:
Nine Myths About Canadian Culture

It starts off fairly benign, then it goes into T.V. shows, the CBC being underfunded, etc. etc. etc..

I loved this little Myth/Fact response.

4. Fiction: They are shoving Cancon down our throats.

Fact: Canadian content regulations in radio and television have ensured there are Canadian choices that would not otherwise exist, but Canadians also have easy access to most American television, as well as all U.S. movies, music, books and magazines.

The Cancon rules are bogus. They have done more stifling of Canadian creativity then anything else. Example, a radio station has to play at least 10% Canadian content. Any other rules? No. On goes Rush, or Bachman Turner Overdrive, The Guess Who, Neil Young....See a problem yet folks? How many new groups and bands get airplay? I used to hear a few up in my home town area that got radio play on the local radio station. Anything national? Rarely. For t.v. shows it was a bit different. The CBC at one time was considered the guardian and creator of anything Canadian. A few channels now are moving into that market and are creating some wonderful Canadian shows. The CBC is trying, but now they are failing and flailing.

Now the Next article in the Toronto Star:

How to make the CBC viable in the digital age

The CBC’s $1-billion parliamentary allocation sounds like a lot, but when the amount is adjusted for inflation, the broadcaster is receiving $500 million less than it did in 1991.

Before anyone gives the CBC more money, however, we all need to decide what we want the CBC to be.

“If we are serious about having a national public broadcaster — and it’s not always clear that we are — we need to give it a clear mandate and properly fund that mandate. . .” says Alan Sawyer, a consultant in digital media. “If we are serious about it we have to go big: here is what we want.”

So, what do we want? Stursberg’s argument was that in an environment dominated by the American programming on CTV and Global, the CBC’s English service distinguishes itself simply by being Canadian. Not by being non-commercial or high-minded, but by offering Canadian versions of commercial programming formats.

The alternative is to reduce the CBC to some sort of PBS North, funded by many but watched by few.

However, the either-or argument, populist or elitist, is unnecessarily polarizing. Funded, however skimpily, by all taxpayers, the CBC needs to reach many audiences. And in English Canada, serving the entire population with a single, general-interest channel is a particularly difficult task. Canadian content is not, after all, a specific programming niche. [SNIP] (emphasis added by myself)
Whining and winging about how they aren't getting enough money to broadcast Canadian culture. Why should the CBC define Canadian culture? I think that may be a rant for another day actually, "What is Canadian Culture"....back to the topic at hand. The CBC has been the government media for generations now. Ever since it's founding in 1936 it has broadcast all manners of media to the country. In the last thirty years though, probably longer, it has seemed to become more and more the propaganda arm of the left and the Liberal Party of Canada. That's my belief anyway. Your mileage may vary.

Now the third article:

Is a national Canadian culture important? If so, what would it be?

Now we are getting to the meat of the issue.

[SNIP]Canada’s government is not as generous, but operates on the same principle. Ottawa subsidizes the cultural industries with various loans, grants and tax credits, and requires both radio and TV broadcasters to offer specific percentages of Canadian content. Some of these measures have proved highly successful, others much less so, but without them there would be no Canadian popular culture. [SNIP]

I don't believe this argument at all. Popular Canadian culture does exist and would exist even without the funding of the government. How many authors are there that are published? How many movies, dramas, writers, actors, comedians? They are there, we just have to discover them. Some of them stand out and are remembered. Others need maybe a little helping hand. But the cream will rise to the top no matter who. Funded or unfunded.

Further on in the article is where I find my stomach turning:

It is hard to find much philosophical support for cultural nationalism these days. In the universities, political thinkers are queasy about nationalism, an unease they would trace back to the Holocaust and follow forward to Bosnia.

Cultural thinkers, meanwhile, reject attempts to define, let alone mould, national identity as paternalistic and exclusionary. This leaves the stewards of cultural institutions and regulations without much intellectual grounding for their mandate.

Meanwhile, the reach of the Internet and the efficiency of digital technology are softening national boundaries in culture and communications and may erase them outright as they become the sole highway and only vehicle for all media. The digital age will recognize few of our regulations as a flood of foreign content rapidly becomes an ocean.

These university philosophers and political thinkers are trying to kill nationalism. Nationalism is a part of our cultural heritage. This sickness has been fermenting now for almost 40 years with the whole "multicultural mosaic" created by the Trudeau government. The concept where all cultures are equal, and now it means all are equal except Canadian culture.

The Toronto Star is trying hard to defend the doddering institution of the CBC. Of course like draws to like, and left to left. The CBC at one time was a needed institution. No longer. More and more Canadian broadcasting companies are creating Canadian programs. Written here, filmed here, about here. Other Canadians are starting to become modern cultural icons and making their presence known. Here's a good example. How many have seen the t.v. show "FlashForward"? An American show on the ABC channel, unfortunately canceled now. It was based upon a novel by a Canadian writer. Hows that for culture? Anyway enough of this for the day, time to relax and not get my blood pressure up.

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