Thinking CanCon in 2015

by K.M.

I recently read this article, entitled “A contemporary argument for Canadian content.” Television broadcasting in 2015 can be a difficult subject. In Canada it’s always proved prickly: the argument tends to straddle the ‘let the free market dictate what we watch’ versus ‘Canadian content needs protecting’ lines.

Ever since the CRTC [Canada’s broadcasting/telecommunications regulatory body] launched its Let’s Talk TV campaign last year, lots of thoughts have been swimming in my head regarding Canadian content (CanCon), regulation in the Netflix era, and the CRTC’s role in all of this. These issues have intrigued me so much that I am developing my thoughts into a paper that I’ll be presenting at the CPSA conference in Ottawa in June, examining the role of the CRTC in contemporary Canadian broadcasting regulation.

I like Taylor’s article for two reasons: 1) she touches upon the complexities and difficulties of this topic without seeming patronizing or getting on a high horse (for lack of a better term!). This isn’t easy, because discussions about CanCon inevitably descend into discussions of quality (ex. “Canada’s TV shows suck….The Big Bang Theory even just LOOKS better”). 2) I think she makes a damn good argument for supporting Canadian cultural production, beyond economic reasons*: “It’s about participating in a living culture, and recognizing that a living culture is often a local culture.”

The Let’s Talk TV report was supposed to be released in December (yes, I had it marked in my diary). According to the CRTC, we should see something by the end of March. It is a sad yet realistic fact that in Canada we often have to fight for our culture. I hope the CRTC’s proposed changes keep CanCon a priority even in the face of Netflix, even when the “easy” option would be let it go.

*Economic reasons are important too. I have two aunts and an uncle that earn their livings in this industry, not to mention I’ve financed a lot of my education from working in it! But it is important to extend the CanCon argument beyond this.