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21.07.2004

Comments

sasha

"i think the bigger question is why isn't fox news bothering to learn these things about canada so they can capitalize on them?"

No - its not about fox news - its about the principle.

Its about this fear of letting companies give people whatever it is they actually want - the 35% local content rule - leading to a government mandate regarding what deal your cable company can or cant offer you.

Ultimately its all based on an irrationality -- "if we let foreign companies beam their own news here, all canadians will start watching them and canadian identity will dissapear" -- news channels have yet to start to destroying national identities.

ainge

it's not "foreign" news, it's american news. i'm not beating around the bush so why should you? canada already has a lot of american content - so do other countries. we also have this desire to at least *cosmetically* appear different from the united states.

canadian identity has been destroyed and cheapened in a variety of ways. ensuring that there is an incentive for media outlets to disseminate canadian programming is regarded as an acknowledgement of the fact that canadian culture, whatever it is, is somehow worth preserving.

yes, the crtc does take its culture police shtick a bit far at times - andrew coyne can elucidate there.

as for this post, the point of it was mostly to show
a) the gopher thing - americans are totally clueless about canada, which is a source of amusement for us from time to time. where did they even come up with that? did they find leon benoit's comments re: gopher control all over hansard? cos when i was in ottawa, he never shut up about it.
b) how the usa takes canadian viewing of al-jazeera personally, as an indication that we love terror and hate america.

if you read the pogge thing, you would have seen fox news isn't shut out of canada. things are on the table, and if they really gave a toss, things would be moving more quickly.

people are blaming a lot of things for loss of cultural sovereignty, and most of them are american. you dont even have to go as far as something explicitly policy-oriented like a flagrantly conservative network - people get pissed over soft drinks all the time.

if you want me to stop calling you a yankee, stop being so true to your usa address :)

sasha

1. i did read the pogge thing -- thats why i started my comment by saying the details of the case involving fox are irrelevant to the debate -- its the principles that matter

2. as for what your post was meant to show -- i think you are taking wall street journal editorials a bit too literally. theyre meant more like practical jokes or "see if you can figure out 101 reasons why this is wrong." if you start writing about why each editorial is wrong, you'll end up with an encyclopedia.

3. americans already control the soft drinks, lets at least keep them away from the tv.

i'm convinced.

4. "ensuring that there is an incentive for media outlets to disseminate canadian programming is regarded as an acknowledgement of the fact that canadian culture, whatever it is, is somehow worth preserving."

this seems to be a manifestation of something i can only call canadian neuroticism -- what other country freaks out over watching tv shows made elsewhere/in america? what other country thinks its identity has been "destroyed" and "cheapened" by foreign/american products?

ultimately, if canadian identity - or any identity for that matter - has to be preserved against the natural inclination of its people - as is implied by the charge that if you let canadians do whatever they want, they'll destroy canadian identity by watching american tv -- so we better save them from themselves -- why in the world is that identity worth preserving?

ainge

1. that's cute. i thought it was about fox getting shot down.

2. i know editorials are rants, i just think this one is particularly shitty. it is flagrantly uninformed.

3. i never said that

4. you're right. no other country cares about american cultural dominance. i have never seen anything like that on the news or anything. canada can take full credit for the theory that american culture threatens other cultures by attrition.

as for canadian identity, who cares about that too? whether people have the fundamental freedom known as access to life-giving cable news is way more important than thinking about canada.

2. all wall street journal editorials are flagrantly uninformed.

3. you said people blame soft drinks for a loss of cultural sovereignty.

4. no other nation treats the matter like canada - for example, no other nation associates soft drinks with a loss of cultural sovereignty.

whenever other cultures worry about american dominance, they have some very concrete concerns in mind - people in russia/moldova, for example, will often complain that american movies are cruel/disgusting/stupid and their prevalence will make people in turn disgusting and tasteless. the french fret about their language. but no other people, with the exception of blatant nationalists and supremacists around the world, think watching american shows is somehow inherently wrong.

as for canadian identity vs. access to cable, thats not quite the dichotomy i presented. i was pointing out that,
a. you have a very pessimistic view of canadian identity as something that must be preserved by forcing canadians not to have choices
b. if your view of what it means to be canadian is this bleak - if you believe that people undermine being canadian by pursuing their desires -- why in the world do you want to preserve this identity?

asking this question in no way detracts from the point i made in my first comment -- that this pessimistic view of canadian identity cannot be right -- and that if you let canadians watch whatever it is they want to, they won't be any less canadian.

ainge

2. fair enough?

3. no i didnt, i said there are a lot of things that people raise as points of contention, they get pissed over them. the soft drink thing was more in reference to people around the world who ruin everyones fun by asking why american logos and products have to be everywhere. not canadians. in fact, pepsi is a slur for a quebecer due to the fact theyre all seemingly addicted to it.

4. all canadians are blatant nationalists and supremacists, then.

the issue is also about protectionism - one of the ways you can define a production as 'canadian' is if 75% of the money used to make it was spent in canada/paid to canadians.

ultimately, it is about legislating a place for canadian culture on the air and in the tv/movie market in response to the fact we are geographically attached to the usa, which could mop the floor with us in this industry due to economies of scale and all that. the crtc thinks this is a good way to protect and promote canadian culture against american fodder flooding the market.

how come its ok for russia, moldova, or france to object to american cultural attrition, but canadians are nuts for wanting to act on these sentiments through our legislative process?

nobody said american programming was evil.

canadians have choices. its not like channel 1 is the cbc and channel 2 is paul martin saying 'turn it back to channel 1 or i will send liza frulla to shoot you'

canada has a number of content laws and they dont tell people what to broadcast, they just require broadcasters that make money off canadians to re-invest some of that money into the industry, fostering canadian culture.

7% canadian content for ethnic channels
65% french songs on francophone radio stations
35% canadian content for non-ethnic channels

its not that terrible.

its not just canada. during prime time slots, it has to be "australian content" - all producers must be australian, 50% of lead roles or 75% of a drama cast has to be australian.

just because a country is english-speaking doesnt mean it wants to permit american stories, news, shows to squeeze their voices out.

all canadians have a pessimistic view of canadian identity. we got our flag in 1965 or something - before that, we flew "her majesty's" red ensign. canada made steps towards being 'canadian' in the 20s and 30s after the brits used us as operation human shield in wwi. we got our own constitution in 1982 (before, it was the british north america act). canada was a dominion for a long time before it started acting like a country. reconciling the divisions between the founding cultures and the regional blocs and defining ourselves collectively is an unfinished project. john ralston saul says our strength is our cosmopolitan makeup and refusal to rally around a fixed identity.

besides our penchant for regulation, can you tell we're a bit different?

sasha

3. yes, you did say it. dude, why don't you scroll up to your comment where you say,

"people are blaming a lot of things for loss of cultural sovereignty, and most of them are american. you dont even have to go as far as something explicitly policy-oriented like a flagrantly conservative network - people get pissed over soft drinks all the time."

now you seem to be arguing that you did not want this to be taken in its obvious sense - that although the second sentence seems to follow up on the first, you really were no longer thinking about cultural sovereignty at all. all right - but you did say it - though perhaps unwittingly so.

i will break up my response into multiple posts because the various points that we are juggling here are independent and i don't like long answers.

sasha

the case against free trade in broadcasting is especially weak.

the pro-free trade argument is that economic theory predicts under free trade each country is better off than without it. better off in the sense that the economic pie is bigger - there is more stuff to divide up among the same number of people.

the quirk is that the gains will not be evenly distributed; some people may actually end up losing.

when an american steel worker gets laid off because steel can be made cheaper in china due to the low price of chinese labor, its small consolation to him that almost all medical research is now done in america -- he cant quite become a scientist. that is the most common argument against free trade.

applying this to broadcasting: tv companies emloy mostly unskilled labor - and the skilled labor they employ (sound technicians, etc) are in demand by a bunch of industries beside tv. which is why the argument against free trade does not apply here.

sasha

as to canada vs. "russia, moldova, and france:" if you recall i criticized france as well. russia and moldova do not try to stop american movies from being shown too much by legislation. thats the difference: while people in other countries may simply think american stuff is trash, only in canada does the subject get tied up with questions of national identity.

the rest of your post seems to make the point - which you also argued to me before -- that things arent that bad, that the laws can be met by foreign stations without too much trouble, etc. thats not the point. from the point of view of principles, it hardly matters whether the law requires 1% or 99% local content - both have the same theoretical underpinning, i.e. that canadian culture must be preserved by taking away people's choices.

and i don't think all canadians would take the view, as you say, that canadians will destroy their identity if they are allowed to choose to watch anything they want. arent some canadians are conservative...

ainge

i know there are conservatives in canada, do i have to repost this part?
we have a few channels and papers that root for america to win when it goes to war - some are even american. there are people making noise about a liberal bias here, but last i checked it wasn't that different in the states. in fact, i hear this kind of thing has been popular since edmund burke explored the deficiencies of the "literary cabal" while reflecting on the revolution in france. for every disparaging comment made about the usa by a canadian politician, there is a scott brison, a pierre pettigrew, a stephen harper who will step up and convincingly commend america. forgetting figureheads, both in the legislatures and the media, of the people who bothered to vote, lots voted conservative.

i think the bigger question is why isn't fox news bothering to learn these things about canada so they can capitalize on them? could you imagine deb gray's candour being put to use on a fox news canada talk panel? she wouldn't be lonely either - there *are* conservatives in the country, they're just not the governing party.

sasha

the conservative thing was a response to "all canadians have a pessimistic view of canadian identity"

my point being, not all canadians think canadian identity will be seriously hurt by the cancellation of the 35% rule.

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