How do CRTC and CBC affect Canadian Media and culture?
Canadian culture lacks the presence of a truly public broadcasting network and this anthology revolves around contemporary programming and production facilities. Though the Canadian federal government in the form of media bodies like CRTC has attempted to retain Canadian culture by setting legal requirements to embed pure Canadian content into broadcasting, this seems not efficient to promote Canadian traditions which developed after American inhabitation. The approach of this paper is based on the analysis of broadcasting bodies and how they intervene in media and culture? The causes behind failing to provide ‘nationalism’ to the viewers are also discussed.
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The impact of the development of Canadian television resulted in a single system of broadcasting in which the publicly-owned Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) played the leading role in being seriously challenged by the growing economic and political power of the owners of the private broadcasting stations. Along with the transformation emerged CRTC to minimize American content in programs, thereby demanding greater protection of Canadian culture against a perceived onslaught of American programming.
On the contrary, public demands were becoming more persistent for the extension of primary service to those regions of Canada still without television and in the areas already served by the Liberal’s single station policy for the provision of alternative channels. Critics claimed the system as a ‘single system’ which along with the passage of time took the prime preoccupations of the Board of Broadcast Governors (BBG).
This Canadian ‘single system’ of broadcasting flourished from the thirties through the wartime period and well into the postwar era. In the post-war years, however, the owners of the private stations started to show off their political muscles seeking a larger place in the scheme of things (Stewart & Hull, 1994, p. 5).
CRTC experienced a difficult time in legalizing Canadian broadcasting. It is not more than a decade that this single system which broadcast only four to five channels now shows hundreds of channels influenced through political conflicts and profit-making. Such influence has diminished the leftover perception of Canadian culture and has given Canadians a variety of benefits in the form of target markets, political bias, and alleviating the sense of national identity. Those ‘benefits’ are measured against the deployment of advertisements which many Canadians feel has been the only option left for fundraising for the CRTC.
Distinct Media Worlds
Culturally, Canada is a multicultural nation deeply subjugated from American cultural technologies and mass media that have replaced both the high-culture forms of the elite and more rural-based folk culture. Even though Canada has one of the most open and sophisticated telecommunication systems in the world, broadcasting has failed to demonstrate political concern for the creation and maintenance of distinctly Canadian culture (Beaty & Sullivan, 2006, p. 10).
This might be because of the fact that Canada’s two major linguistic groups live in separate media worlds (English Canadian programs and French Canadian programs) and hold distinct interests in the entire range of cultural commodities, from books to artwork Canada is divided into two distinct cultural markets which are more influenced from the US market than any other market on the globe.
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Contemporary Canadian television is limited to what the CRTC decides about the fate of the activities for broadcasting. This has affected the Canadian culture in a pessimistic manner in many ways. Like CRTC has almost lost its credibility for showing commercials and money-making in the name of broadcasting.
However, the other side of the coin tells the helplessness of the CRTC to depend upon resources. Of course identity matters but what the facts tell us is that Canada is seeking national identity since the 1930s and according to Vipond (2000, p. 3) Canadian culture has baffled through so many decades that now it seems it has accepted its fate in search of the never-ending search for identity. Critics also claim that since it is a multicultural nation, it would be wrong to say that Canada has no culture. It is a culture that encompasses multiple cultures because if it is really devoid of cultural values, how come we can claim that it is multicultural?
So, the point is that a multicultural nation lacks the ability to infuse the true ethnicity of Canadians. This inability has caused the morals down of the legal bodies like CRTC who despite attempting to attain the identity of a distinct national culture, is unable to manage the waning of CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) which makes it clear to the communities across Canada that private TV networks also aim to get the lion’s share by rebroadcasting American programs as a substitute to Canadian advertising.
Does Cultureless Media portray a cultureless society?
It is true that media is the best portrayal of any nation on the globe. With a lack of CBC abilities to reflect in the programs Canadian culture, it seems to many that Canadian culture imitates American programs or that America still dominates Canadian culture through private bodies like CBC. With such an influence from American culture, Canadian cultural industries unlike American mediated societies are not governed fully by private ownership, and if they govern, it allows that extent to which private TV networks rebroadcast American programs with Canadian advertising.
The arguments for a distinctly Canadian television culture are defined as one that has its own identity, rather than the one that follows American influence. The point is that Canada being multicultural adopts all forms of expression but that does not refer to think about adopting any other culture. Contemporary Canadian media does that indirectly in a manner.
It would be wrong to say that CBC is fond of adopting American successful programs. As a matter of fact, CBC because of funds shortage is bound to broadcast programs that allow maximum advertisement and profit-making. But that on the other hand does not indicate that television is least bothered about culture. If culture really does not matter to CBC, why would the programs come up in various Canadian languages? However, the longstanding dilemma asks the regulatory bodies like CRTC to intervene with policymakers and cultural nationalists to postulate American domination. It is on such basis that imitation on part of the Canadian broadcasting demonstrates the lack of ‘Canadian identity’.
CBC with unique market-driven programming goals targets private broadcasters to be at odds with cultural nationalists. This is so because they argue for governmental measures that protect their rights over the broadcasting system to ensure Canadian ownership. To them, it does not matter which programs people watch, so long as people watch it from a Canadian-owned station. With euphemism on advertising, a common complaint that rests on the shoulders of the CBC and CRTC is the sponsoring of Canadian programs through heavy advertisements. Does the answer lie in the notion that without advertisements how come is it possible for the government to raise funds for the programs relating to Community people?
There is no doubt that lack of pure Canadian content is a dilemma that has made CRTC vulnerable to the threats of online media where people have opted ISPs instead of television channels and consider them far better as a tool to infuse Canadian content into their networks. But that is not a long-term solution to opt ISPs as an alternate to Canadian television. This of course will not make a long-term proposal.
Limitations to the community freedom
People complain of media lacking abilities to develop a strong domestic TV industry for all it broadcasts is the low caliber TV programs, influenced by international channels. However, the majority are not aware of how helpless media regulatory bodies are. The CRTC despite possessing ownership guidelines is devoid of ownership policies and does not emphasize ‘pay-per-view’ and ‘on demand’ programs. Since CRTC does not believe in diversity of programs, now it is facing extensive competition from global unregulated digital platforms.
With several television channels, there is a need for government regulation to ensure a diversity of not only content but Canadian content so as to retain the roots of our culture. The vulnerability of CRTC has been exploited by various news channels where the press freedom and development has been put at stake because it deploys a forced-slave type of relationship for which many authors like Asante (1997, p. 38) maintain that the press becomes a forced appendage of the government. This claim has not only rationalized the access of freedom limited to Canadian politicians and bureaucratic parties but has also ensure that diverse ideas are not to be expressed on television.
Besides, media education is minimum to the extent where it hardly provides opportunities to the individuals to learn to make the best usage of TV. Instead of provoking a sense of localization to the citizens, it provides with the people limited access to the local infrastructure by waning local communications which refers the viewer to perceive that the TV is itself a vulnerable mode of expression.
Fuller (1994, p. 11) points out that city government in Canada is found to possess vulnerable sociocultural aspects affecting the community and when compared to the United States, it is found that government is less actively involved in cable television. However among various factors that affect Canadian broadcast includes the unstable and uninteresting programs as a result of CBC to rely too heavily on one source of funding.
CRTC today acknowledges its failure to seed personnel to develop a strong liaison with the local cable ownership and management. This is so because CRTC has failed to establish interest in the personnel to escort them through production workshops. Cultural significance is ignored in large metropolitan areas for the development of monolithic and elitist production units. This might be because of the insufficient available funds required for the development of local resources to ensure purchase and maintenance of quality equipment.
The dilemma that has remained with the Canadian media is that despite possessing the best of production medium, distribution facility, and audience research, very little attention has been paid on the content. Main reason behind the dilemma is the lack of resources which CRTC is confronting and is managing to handle effectively in the form of various fund raising programs like advertisements, low budget programs and even public fund collecting.
Canada may be a community of communities but a shared symbolic culture is essential for a political nationality and anthropology. If a culture is unable to sustain over a long period of time without a common popular notion or icon such as media, how can we expect that our parliamentary institutions are going to survive in the longer run? Thus, media with an aim to provide national identity is essential to retain the ethnic values. There must not be separate institutions for distinct media worlds but corporation must entail a single broadcasting system with fresh and interesting content.
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Asante E. Clement. (1997). Press Freedom and Development: A Research Guide and Selected Bibliography: Greenwood Press: Westport, CT.
Beaty Bart & Sullivan Rebecca. (2006). Canadian Television Today: University of Calgary Press: Calgary, Alta.
Fuller K. Linda. (1994). Community Television in the United States: A Sourcebook on Public, Educational, and Governmental Access: Greenwood Press: Westport, CT.
Stewart Andrew & Hull H. N. William. (1994). Canadian Television Policy and the Board of Broadcast Governors, 1958-1968: University of Alberta Press: Edmonton, Alta.
Vipond Mary. (2000). The Mass Media in Canada (3rd ed.). James Lorimer & Company.