December 03, 2006

CRTC, Please Observe Reality

(Ottawa) CRTC meetings over the past week fell off the national media radar quickly, but the questions linger for anybody who cares about this multi-billion dollar industry which has been so badly mismanaged in terms of federal subsidies and investment. And, very likely, the situation will become more hopeless when the CRTC makes its changes in the next year.

Why? It’s both simple and not so simple. Simple because it is obvious that changes must be made. Not so simple because the CRTC appears to be driven by a confused mode of thinking. Somehow, through convoluted logic, they appear to believe that the key to a thriving Canadian TV industry is to empower broadcasters to do whatever they propose that they need to do to be “competitive”.

Now, it’s not so hard to see that the CRTC has been assuming that Canadian broadcasters are functioning in a free market economy and that assuring strong competitive rules enabling profits for such a market ensures a strong industry. Oh boy, oh boy, this is where the big mistake is made.

Canadian broadcasters have not been operating in a free market economy for decades. They are beneficiaries of non-stop subsidies and government-funded production money for all that time. They don’t have to deal with the real world like US broadcasters do -- operating in a real free market economy. Canadian broadcasters leach off of the Americans, getting their best shows for relatively little money and, when forced into providing the miniscule amount of Canadian TV content they are obligated to provide (an insanely miniscule amount, beyond any good sense), they lean on the Canadian tax-payer for the major portion of financing. Hell, they won’t even develop a show without Telefilm money for the most part! It’s a complete joke, welfare system that has developed. And it’s a welfare system for billionaire corporations buying each other out like rich piranhas! Only in Canada, you say? Yes, only in Canada.

I outlined the obvious solutions to enable a Renaissance in Canadian TV in my last entry: IF I RAN THE ZOO (AND THE CRTC). I’m certain none of my suggestions will be enacted. Even though the Canadian taxpayer would come out kings and queens with an empire of quality Canadian TV on par with the best in Britain after a year or two shakedown, as pressure comes properly on the Canadian broadcasters to earn their keep.

Oh well, it will be interesting and likely depressing to observe the CRTC’s decisions. One can only hope they are able to see the big realistic picture, rather than some idealized fantasy which does not exist. I doubt it.
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