Public Broadcasting Defined to mean publicly-owned, independent tv and Radio

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Public Broadcasting

  • Defined to mean publicly-owned, independent TV and Radio

  • Historically, prevalent in all countries except US until the 80s

  • Europe had mostly public broadcasting monopolies

  • US mostly commercial oligopoly

  • Canada a hybrid: mixed public and private system

Politics, Broadcasting and the CBC

  • Identity Defined

  • Canadian Political Culture and Canadian Values

  • The Cultural Industries and Canadian identity

  • Origins of broadcast regulation

  • The CBC Story

  • Arguments for and against the CBC

The Search for Identity

  • Early history of media associates cultural industries with Nationalism

  • Most regimes have strongly nationalistic or nationally oriented and local media content and systems

  • Through the media, like education, citizens build self, social and political identities


  • In group or out group

  • Defines me versus them

  • Us versus them

  • What is the same: sameness, oneness

  • What is different: ‘othering’

  • Favouritism of one’s own group: ethnocentrism

  • Prejudice against other groups: racism

Layers of Identity

  • Self Identity

  • Social Identity

  • Political Identity

Self Identity

  • Your life history

  • Explains why you do something, who you want to be, and what to do about advancing your interests

  • May be personal style, personal peer and family identity ( notion of primary group)

  • Commercial systems good at delivering consumer identity menus

Social Identity

  • Associated with the rights,obligations and sanctions you enjoy in your social roles

  • Usual markers are age, sex, race ( immutable social markers)

  • Primordial realms: immediate community of work or living

  • Increasingly involving social causes/missions

  • Media are resources in finding social identities: role assimilation—some systems recognize this and compel private broadcasters to monitor guidelines for social portrayal

National Political Identity

  • Deutsch:

  • A nation must interact more often internally than externally to remain politically cohesive

  • Media flows should promote national ID

  • Contribute to the sharing of basic values and beliefs ( cognitive and rational)

  • A Sense of Attachment to Place( emotional)

Media and Political Identity

  • Central to political socialization ( learning to be a citizen)

  • Convey information about basic citizen’s rights and responsibilities

  • Transmit /Promote basic national symbols

  • Create climate of political trust/alienation: political and consumer confidence in the economy, in foreign policy

  • Now an arena where political controversy is channelled: representative presence in media is key to political enfranchisement

Media and Political Identity 2

  • Most systems regulate election broadcasting due to the importance to political choice and identity building

  • Only public broadcasting systems make explicit the role in political identity

Nationalist Politics

  • Nationalism/Chauvinism Defined

  • Nationalism: devotion to one’s nation;

  • Synonym: patriotism

  • The doctrine that national interests are more important than international interests

  • The desire for or advocacy of national independence or autonomy

  • Chauvinism: excessive, narrow or jingoistic patriotism

  • Militant, unreasoning and unqualified devotion to one’s country

  • Fanatical devotion with contempt for others

Nationalism 2

  • Focuses on the special/different/ history

  • Tendency to seek ‘true’ ‘Aryan’ character: true ‘American’ or true ‘Canadian’ character may be fascist in orientation ( essentialism is to be distrusted)

  • Nationalism/19th century tied identity to mobilization of empire and mercantilism– economic and political expansion

  • Tendency to see ID as singular, homogenous, stable and monolithic undercuts modern immigrant reality and the political economy of nationalism

Canadian National Identity

Political Culture

  • Historical Fragment Theory

  • Linguistic: Official History of Quebec and the Rest of Canada

  • Racial: aboriginal and then white; white euro then other/people of colour

Myths about Canadian Cultural Identity

  • Defined against the US/ British or French fragments

  • Seen as ‘hybridized’, ‘hyphenated’: French Canadian, English Canadian, Immigrant Canadian, Aboriginal Canadian

  • A Mosaic, not a melting pot

  • Seen as ‘regionalized’– Western, Eastern or central Canadian

  • Increasingly seen not as bicultural but multicultural

Other Defining Markers

  • NOT American ( the ‘rant’)

  • NOT nationalistic ( no anthem in schools)

  • MORE deferential to authority (Garrison versus Frontier mentality)

  • MORE public enterprise culture (rail, universal health care, education, CBC)

  • GO BETWEEN: international peace-keeper, trusted intermediary, history of land mines treaty: kinder, gentler peoples

  • Not Mono cultural: bilingual and multicultural( mosaic versus melting pot)


  • Defined as fact: 50% today claim non British non-French ancestry; 12% visible minorities

  • As Ideology: Multicultural Act, equality rights in Charter: notion of inclusiveness, unity in diversity; cultural differences not disparaged: tolerance valued ( Hate criminalised)

  • As Policy: Human Rights legislation, affirmative action or equity rights in employment in public agencies: funding of ethnic cultural practices; celebrating diversity

  • As Critical Discourse: criticised as bandaid measure which keeps white majority dominant ( eg: Fleras, Tator and Henry et al)

  • Rationalised in a coherent whole

Dimensions of Cohesive Identity

  • Sense of belongingness-isolation

  • Inclusiveness-exclusiveness

  • Participation-non-participation

  • Recognition-rejection

  • Legitimacy-illegitimacy

Theoretical Problem

  • Assimilation or Diversity?

  • Unity in Diversity?

  • Community of Communities?

  • What provides the ‘glue’ for a disparate peoples? What provides to ‘code’ or ‘protocol’ for peaceful co-existence?

  • The Media both reflect and produce this ‘glue’

Canadian Popular Culture

“Travelling Canadians”

  • 7-10% of students out of province

  • Born out of province” 33% in ‘have’ provinces

  • Other ‘connections’:

  • Readership/media consumption

‘Canadian Values’

  • Levels of attachment to Canada increasing

  • Highest level of belonging in world values study

  • Economic and cultural security the biggest predictors of positive sense of belonging

  • Except in Quebec:

  • Strongest sense of belonging:

  • Family (95%)

  • Canada (81%)

  • Community (74%)

  • Ethnic Group (55%)

Values cont’d

Where belong first:

  • Country

  • Pride: unchanged in 15 years

  • Cosmopolitan ID increasing: local decreasing

  • Canadians support (70%) principles of multiculturalism, even higher majority supports Hate legislation

Canadian identity Cont’d

  • Strongest in older, less secure anglophones who mourn a past Canada

  • Weaker among secure,younger and agile portions of society

  • Views on government interact with identity

  • Elites attach more value to economic- material factors in ‘conditional’ identity than do general public ( checkbook nationalists)

Perceptions of National Identity

  • World Values study

  • Book entitled How Canadian Connect(1998)

  • There is a distinct Canadian identity

  • 47% agree

  • 40% disagree– there is no majority view of an “imagined Canadian community”

  • Paradoxically, 83% agree Canadian culture is something we can take pride in

Cultural Industries and Canadian Identity

  • Strong sense of awareness, pride and attachment to: authors, popular musicians, local news ,CBC radio etc

  • Low awareness and cultural preference for Canadian TV drama

  • 2/3 of french viewing is to Canadian shows

  • 1/3 of english viewing is to Canadian

  • 12% of all entertainment

  • 15 of top 20 shows all American

  • English canada is the only TV market in the world where local citizens do not prefer local product

Canadian vs. US TV Practices

  • Watch 30% less TV

  • 5 times more likely to watch a public/non-commercial broadcaster

  • Higher tolerance for complex info

  • Watch more news: less infotainment

  • West wing/Law and Order:SVU high end US shows

  • Watch Canadian first in

  • News

  • Sports

  • Comedy

  • Greater Participation: phone ins etc.


  • The preeminent cultural industry as measured by leisure time ( 21 hours a week– most after work)

  • Now about 2 billion annually in revenues

  • TV has become the most trusted news source surpassing the newspaper

  • By age of 12, children have spent more time with TV than with school

The Broadcasting System

  • - mixed: with public and private elements

  • Competitive

  • Highly regulated by the CRTC

  • Which licenses and monitors

  • Classic case of social responsibility model

The Broadcasting Act (1991)

  • The Canadian Broadcasting System will serve to safeguard enrich and strengthen the cultural, political social and economic fabric of Canada

  • Each element will contribute to the creation and presentation of Canadian programs

  • Each.. Make Maximum use and no less than predominant use of Canadian creative resources

Rationale for Intervention

  • Doctrine of national sovereignty(spectrum)

  • Natural Monopoly ( spectrum)

  • Market Failure

  • History of spectrum chaos

  • Other case of Market Failure

  • Diseconomies of scale in certain productions

  • 40% time spent with drama
  • Average drama $1.2 mill US per
  • US market recovers cost and can sell into Canada at 1/10th/1/20rth the cost

Canadian Content Quota

  • Requires 60% overall and 50% CANCON in prime time

  • Quota is a Make Jobs program:

  • Its definitions revolved around citizenship of the writer, producer, technical crews etc. shooting the series

  • The Quota is not a qualitative one: requiring distinctively creative stories

  • That is why you get clones ( Peter Benchley’s Amazon) qualifying for CanCon

Other Regulations

  • Restrict foreign ownership

  • Disallow spending on ads in US border media

  • Simultaneous Substitution Rule to protect ad revenues of private broadcasters


Development of the System

  • 20 years ago, no viable private network

  • Now 2 which have bought out newspapers

  • Now viable TV production industry

  • Now top 10 companies: Alliance Atlantis is in top 20 worldwide

  • Canada 2nd largest TV exporter after US

Track Record of TV in CANCON

  • Internationally recognized news, sports

  • Animation/sci fi and special effects

  • Kids

  • Documentaries and Docudrama

  • Popular MOWs ( Anne of Avonlea, Sheldon Kennedy Story)

Track Record Cont’d

  • Still no Home Run series internationally ( CSI)

  • Still no star system

  • Domestically: DaVinci’s, Bob and Margaret among the best

  • But less than 12% of drama we watch is Canadian ( versus 66% in most other countries)

Do we Need the CBC?

  • You Decide

Turn the tables and question private broadcasters

  • Strong in local news

  • Resellers of US programs

  • 5% of Global’s prime time audience is to Canadian shows (eg. BCTV)

  • Schedules set in New York by US networks

  • Spend 400 m annually on US programming, 50 on Canadian drama

  • But eligible for over 500 million in subsidy and protections

The Economic Problem

  • Underdeveloped Ad Market

  • TV ad revenues are 66% the size of their US counterparts on a per capita basis

  • Why? Overspill of US ads

  • Underdevelopment of sectors of ads which are in the public realm in Canada (health, education etc)

Economic Problem 2

  • Global can go to Hollywood and buy rights to air Friends in Canada, and pay 100 K or less per episode

  • But costs to produce a FRIENDS here would be 2 million per episode ( 10 to 20 times more)

  • Why? Economies of scale in the US: US product recovers most of its costs in the home market, can afford to sell below cost in foreign countries

  • Cheaper to import license than make

Economic Problem 3

  • Increasingly concentrated in ownership

  • Why protect BCE/CTV?

  • System of deregulation and competition has produced a more American, less unique entertainment market

The CBC Story

  • Created in 1932 by unanimous Act of Parliament ( all parties)

  • 5 provinces endorsed

  • Became dominant news source WW2

  • Still the largest single employer of journalists in this country

  • As measured by levels of trust, ratings on quality on national news stories in polls

CBC Cultural Legacy: French

  • -two solitudes in one institution

  • Radio Canada integral to rise of Quebec nationalism

  • Subject of separatist witchhunts: allegations of bias from Trudeau to Chretien

CBC Legacy: English

  • Rise of English nationalism: royalist

  • Created national hockey culture

  • Golden age 30s to 60s

  • Commitment to “life of the Mind”

  • Rise of political satire

CBC Trend setting Style

  • Town halls

  • No ads in news (less than 5% of TV content is non-commercial)

  • Pioneered “double enders”

  • Broke: tainted blood controversy, Rwanda, only network to cover 96 provincial election

  • Stuffy? White bread? Against, what? Say, Tony Parsons?

  • Superb coverage of September 11: viewership of news now on par with CTV in Toronto markets

Political Pressures on CBC

  • This Hour Has 7 days

  • Hot seat, first shock TV

  • Valor and Horror

  • Terry Milewski and APEC controversy

  • Constant political scrutiny of editorial tampering

  • Office of ombudsman: is political pressure more transparent than in private sector?

  • CBC, like private media, part of making power, reality and history

  • Newsworld: Counterspin and other innovations


  • News

  • This Hour has 22 minutes

  • Hockey Night in Canada

  • Canada: A People’s History

  • Over 90% of programs are Canadian

  • Has a 45% share of audiences looking for Canadian drama in prime time

  • CBC radio fans are most loyal

CBC Failures: Or Failing the CBC?

  • 1/3 government cutbacks since 95

  • Local and regional news most cut

  • Now among the lowest funded of public broadcasters in the world ( except for PBS)

  • Increasingly reliant on commercial revenue

  • Half of all TV revenues

  • Causes turn to sports, other low cost genres like informational programming

  • Now a “subsidized commercial broadcaster”

CBC Sins: Or Sins Against the CBC

  • Too culturally homogenous

  • Not relevant for young audiences

  • Online

  • Drop the Beat/ Edgemont

  • DNTO

  • Counterspin

  • Regional: deracinated

CBC And Democracy

  • State and not a Public Broadcaster

  • Appointments should be by Parliament and not the PM

  • Need Citizens’ advisory councils

  • Need partnerships: campus radio, community cable channels and ETV

  • More responsive and open and innovative

Why Keep the CBC

  • Only counterweight to media oligopolies

  • An important democratic tool: an independent news agency in competition with CanWest and Vancouver Sun

  • Just as important as education/other areas of social policy

  • Market cannot do what the CBC does, and CBC should not do what the market can provide

  • CBC most aggressive in internet interactive portals: five years ahead of CTV/CanWest Global

  • Canada’s Radio Canada International a service underfunded and adrift: now eclipsed by CNN/VOA and BBC

The People and the CBC

  • Share is now around 6%: half that of CTV

  • But reach is 80%

  • Widespread reach across age,gender,class and racial lines– but latter not as good as could be

  • Usage or time spent with CBC: 53% spend an hour a week; 63% a half an hour

Public Opinion and the CBC

  • The majority support keeping the CBC, even if they do not watch it: for its ‘public good value’

  • the struggle for democratic CBC continues

  • Strongly influenced by:

  • Libertarian versus social responsibility views of media

  • Relative fear of covert political or economic censorship as threat to media and democracy

  • What should be the role of a “people’s network”?

Last Word from the Mandate Review Committee ( that’s me)

  • Canadian programming should be based on a profound curiousity about things Canadian, as well as the rest of the world. An understanding of the world, however, starts with an understanding of ourselves, of those near and dear to us, of our neighbours and compatriots. A vast country like ours desperately needs a medium of communication like CBC radio and television to enrich its citizens– not only as individuals but also as members of a community, a region, a province, a country. ( Mandate Review Committee, Making Our Voices Heard, 1996: 43)

  • What idea is missing?

The Cultural Sovereignty/Imperialism Thesis

  • assumes that a continuous flow of cultural products from the US will “cultivate” American views

  • British study of students found high school students believed they should be ‘read their rights’ if arrested for marijuana possession

  • but Britain has no Constitution

Problems with the Imperialism Thesis

  • pretty primitive stimulus response model

  • in essence, predicated on a passive mass audience concept

  • held that traditional cultures would fall under modernization

  • great ‘global village’ would emerge

  • BUT

Problems 2

  • it is found, in most countries OUTSIDE OF ENGLISH CANADA, despite a marked popularity of American popular TV and films, there is a “cultural affinity’ for local, indigenous product

  • that is, given a choice, European or Latin American, or South Asian audiences prefer local entertainment

  • new centres of TV production surfacing: Britain, Brazil, Calcutta

The Dilemma of the Democratic Model

  • Public, non-commercial broadcasting is democratic if:

  • it is accountable to Parliament

  • it seeks to serve all of the people some of the time

  • it allows the public to have a say in basic practices and priorities in the provision of programming

  • Eamon in Channels of Influence (1994) maintains:

  • audience research should play a special role in a public broadcasting organization

  • the public, rather than the state or market, must be enabled to determine the kind of services public tax money should provide

Dilemma con’td

  • Majid Tehranian:

  • empowerment means the creation of communicators rather than audiences cum consumers or subjects; it demands, full, active conmunicative citizenship (Eamon, xi)

Eamon's Tests of Reliable Public Influence

  • input must be regular

  • those who participate must be representative

  • each vote must count the same

  • the matters under consideration must be consequential and not trivial (Eamon, 6)

  • Advisory councils or other representative bodies are not sufficient

The Policy Problem

  • the Canadian broadcasting system is based upon a series of assumptions or contestable hypotheses

  • contestable hypotheses:

  • people want commercial mass entertainment

  • given a choice, the people choose American cultural products

  • American domination of products has eroded Canadian identity

  • A Canadian star identity is now emerging...

  • Canadian communication scholars know little about how Canadian national identity is constructed in meaning

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