Big Media in Canada Feeling the Pressure or Why Not Building Canadian Content is the Death Note for Canadian Content Providers – editorial by Jamie Gilcig – July 4, 2011

Cornwall ON –  For decades now Canadian artists have left our country to build their careers in the US and world stage.    Music, Comedy, Film, TV, Writers have had obstacles; many artificial because of government intervention or lack therof in certain situations not allow them to truly grow here in Canada.   We may have Telefilm, or Sodec or many other provincial agencies; Canada Council; but generally unless your name isn’t Atom Egoyan or some other media darling the support simply wasn’t there.

Millions if not billions of tax payer dollars have been spent; but mostly propping up Canadian companies that essentially distributed American product or paid American companies to produce product in Canada.       There’s an old saw about if you give a man to fish vs teaching a man to fish.   The funny thing is that we have some great schools that turn out talented artists.    Concordia University’s film program has turned out some very successful talent to name one.

So why has Canada not been able to build as good a system of local home produced art and entertainment?   Ireland has done a marvelous job as has England and most of Europe.   Right now major companies like Corus are before the CRTC trying to fend off the US companies who basically are saying “Why should we add a huge layer of cost to the consumer when we can directly feed our content to Canadians via the internet?”

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The online “window” circumvents the traditional TV distribution system and regional rights model domestic firms like Toronto-based Corus exploit to generate subscriber and ad revenues.

Valid question.  The rise of Netflix and services like them are the standard.   HULU in the US offers top TV shows.   Because Canadian producers and networks have relied for so long on simply regurgitating US shows they are not in a position to compete with the bigger US Nets.

This has also led to overly high Cable and internet fees for Canadian Consumers.      I just bought a ROKU box which allows you to watch TV via the internet without having to hook up a computer.  About 25% of the content on ROKU can be viewed here in Canada, but they add content all the time.  The future is here it’s just that Canadian broadcasters and the industry doesn’t seem to be ready for it or want it?

In the end you just have to shake your head at the whole mess.   And the solutions sadly are not good in the short term for anyone.

What to do ultimately?    We need to create a funding system that takes a chunk of the money that we pay for our TV and Internet and create a fund that can assist home made talent.  We need to give tax credits to companies that broadcast Canadian content.  We need to compete.    Little Mosque on the Prairie?     You can’t fool all of the people all of the time.   They vote with their dollars and with their mice.   After all everyone is essentially one click away from sites in foreign lands like Project Free TV.

Canada needs to wake up.   Instead of allowing companies like Bell to engulf and swallow networks and broadcasters thus creating near monopolies we need our governing bodies to find ways to not protect them, but motivate them to actively and productively help our own industry.

The beautiful thing in a way is that the internet allows; at least for today; people to find the things they like to watch instead of  having such limited choices.    The days of truly poor TV are coming to an end.   We need more competition and we need to be more competitive and let our talent blossom and rise to the top.

Jamie Gilcig – Editor – The Cornwall Free News

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