Canadian broadcasters must be freed to fight foreign giants

Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism Pablo Rodriguez rises in the House of Commons in Ottawa on June 5, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
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BY DOUG MURPHY, Pres. & CEO of Corus Entertainment

Canadians are enjoying more and more content in more and more places. All of us effectively have a TV in our pocket. As one of Canada’s largest broadcasters, Corus’s ambition is to connect audiences with world-class stories, brands and talent wherever they are.

Canadian broadcasting policy was written for an era of closed borders, one where television and radio broadcasters had a relative monopoly over audiences, and governments had a role to play as gatekeepers. That era is over. The policies that once supported and protected Canadian voices now risk restraining them, and need to change. If they do not, the future of Canadian media is in peril.

We know Canadians want flexibility, variety and access to great quality content. They want to tune in each night to hear what happened in their community that day. They want to watch home renovation shows filmed in their neighbourhoods and hear news about Hollywood celebrities and world leaders from a Canadian perspective.

Private broadcasters like Corus are the backbone of the Canadian content and media sector. But we face many challenges. Today, there are virtually no barriers to entry into our industry. Many massive, foreign, Internet-based media and content companies have unfettered access to our market, with more on the way. These international companies are fragmenting audiences, intensifying competition for programming, viewers, and advertising, while diverting revenues out of Canada.

These international companies generally do not collect Canadian sales taxes nor do they contribute to the Canadian content ecosystem. Corus is required to spend 30% of its annual broadcast revenues on Canadian programming. Netflix and others are required to spend nothing.

This situation is unsustainable and is the key issue underlying the latest review of Canadian broadcasting legislation. Encouragingly, Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez recently promised to take action.

Read more  HERE.

Published on September 10, 2019 at 3:02 pm by boredop

Comments

September 10, 2019 - 6:57 pm

Alex Paterson

I don’t really follow what Doug Murphy is looking for. He says he wants media companies to grow. Haven’t some of them grown about as much as they can in Canada? He says that there are no barriers for foreign companies coming into Canada. There are barriers for broadcasters, but none really for internet based media as he states.

Can’t Bell, Corus, Rogers, Telus etc expand elsewhere beyond Canada with their internet media? I am not talking necessarily the US but other countries. If they can, then do it.

I agree some of the regulations need updating, but media companies are always crying poor and wanting consolidation. Remember Bell telling the CRTC how much stronger and better equipped they would be if they were allowed by buy CTV, CHUM Ltd, Astral Media etc? Wasn’t long after everything was approved that shows were cancelled and pink slips, and people started flying out the window.

Look at Rogers, now that they have City TV. No more innovative local shows, no more live New Year’s Eve broadcasts (for years now they just run Dick Clarks Rockin New Years Eve thing), cutbacks galore on news and Breakfast Television. All of the City TV channels are just regular stations now, nothing fresh or innovative about them, and not that local anymore.

And Corus? Aren’t they still up for sale?

Is he looking for deregulation so our broadcasters don’t need to produce any cancon? Does he want foreign companies be allowed to purchase our media? Going to be hard to get foreign media to commit to paying a certain percent to produce Canadian shows. And what exactly is a Canadian show anyway?

He might be looking for our media to be able to produce shows here that count as cancon but really are American or foreign shows. He also says that media should be allowed to produce the programs that people really want to see. Well, go ahead and do it then, aren’t they allowed to do that now?


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