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Canada is a multicultural society that is committed to have a free society. At the same time, I understand that policy makers need to preserve common Canadian culture and heritage and ensure that it is not compromised by invasion from foreign media sources…
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Canada is a multicultural society that is committed to have a free society. At the same time, I understand that policy makers need to preserve common Canadian culture and heritage and ensure that it is not compromised by invasion from foreign media sources. American contents, historically, dominated the show broadcasted by Canadian TV stations with Canadian advertisements. It is not good to see economics prevailing Canadian television and Canadian culture taking secondary importance. Advocates of Canadian television’s sovereignty point that the biggest enemy of Canadian television is US because of its cultural and social invasion: culturally, because American television culture is seen as degraded form of entertainment, and socially, because such debased entertainment is not compatible with Canadian identity1. Also, it is claimed by nationalists that Canadian TV shows are more multifaceted and nuanced. The formation of CBC in 1929 was in response to Royal Commission’s stand that Canadian national identity should have a strong presence on airwaves (radio). A report in 1951 by The Royal Commission on National Development warned dependence on imported programs2. I find it irrational when nationalists compare the best of Canadian programs with the worst of lowbrows in US. A proposal is made of Canada television to be part of ‘middlebrow’3. The idea is that Canadian programs need not be of ‘great’ moral ranking but ‘good’ will suffice so long it can meet the target of satisfying Canadian audience. I find it quite practical and promising. However, for decades, Canadian television even could not meet the objective of good ranking. Even the most professional Canadian series looks quite amateur in comparison to their Hollywood counterparts. Canada has offered quite a number of interesting partnerships to HBO as it grew in popularity. For instance, first television film made for cable television was ‘The Terry Fox Story’ (1983) which was a biography of a famous Canadian. I guess such joint collaborations should have been more in numbers. Traditionally, the standard for Canadian television has been season of 22-episode-sitcom of 22 minutes duration or 48 minutes duration drama with advertisements. The television landscape has altered considerably over the last decade with easy records and downloads over the web, leading to fall in market share of such shows. HBO tried to address by introducing short seasons, 8 to 12 episodes, with commercial-free structure and high production values. From 2001, proliferation of large number of private channels through digital receiver systems in addition to already existing cable and specialty pay channels made the audience even more fragmented. Also the trend by HBO and Showtime of quality television programs was carried forward in Canada with producers of Slings and Arrows with six episodes in the first season. The serial Slings and Arrows had for the first time built a rich group of Canadian theatrical stars, including Paul Gross, Mark McKinney, Martha Burns, and Susan Coyne. Throughout its history, Canadian television had been charged of unable to build a star system. I think that at last with Slings and Arrows, Canadian television has come of age and proved that it can do much more than playing second fiddle to American counterparts. Read More
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