I guess with the recent decision to axe all cancon requirements for daytime programming in Canada, the CRTC is crawling toward its own irrelevance. Let’s not be naive, Canadian culture is that much more weakened without the protection it partially enjoyed from American influence. With much less Canadian culture left to protect, and with Canadian voices now playing a smaller role in Canadian media, the CRTC really has less of a job to do these days.
To be more level here, one needs to be reminded that the CRTC kept the Cancon requirements for prime time. In addition, the CRTC cites the fact that television must now compete alongside streaming video, and the world-wide web for quite possibly the same viewers who listen and view “content” from just about anywhere and everywhere.
If I watch a video on YouTube, I am usually not aware whether or not the video is Canadian content or not. Sometimes there are clues, and sometimes the video is so famous that its country of origin is unmistakeable (Gangam Style, anyone?). There is a certain amount of reality to the CRTC’s concerns. My viewing habits have made much of what the CRTC is doing to make me more part of Canadian culture, irrelevant. But then, I don’t really know for sure, because to be honest, I don’t really check whether the video is CanCon before I see it. Same for websites.
We feared the encroachment of American culture when we set up the CRTC. Back then, radio and TV were the only games in town. Now we have the Internet, and the prospect of entertainment and information being viewed on all household and personal devices. Not all of that is American. I would say most of it is. After all, the USA is the heart of Google, YouTube, Yahoo, NetFlix, and AOL. The other players are not quite so big. Also, the USA accounts for an outsized proportion of the Internet traffic in the world. While 43% of a country’s citizens on average use the Internet, in the US, it is more like 87%.
I would like to think that I get “world” culture when I go online, but I watch British, American and Canadian documentaries, and usually British or American-produced videos on YouTube regarding phenomena in science or math. My online mailing lists consist of Candians and Americans mostly. I wonder now if having a “Canadian voice” can be said to mean anything these days? It used to mean a way to air “my” concerns with “my” voice. Others living in my country would do the same thing. And in sum, it would turn out that our concerns would be distinctively different from concerns across the border. It is healthy to know our common concerns as a culture.
The CRTC needs to be reminded that we must hear ourselves or be lost in the cacophony of other voices that are not our own. That is the only way we can have more confidence sharing our dialogue with the rest of the world, taking pride in our identity.