November 2016, Opposition Pieces

The death of CanCon vs. the need for its rebirth

Regulations by the CRTC mandating that broadcasters feature a certain percentage of Canadian content (“CanCon”) are obsolete and should be dismantled.

The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is charged with the task of upholding Canada’s Broadcasting Act. They claim to work to provide Canadians with a vast array of programming that reflect Canadian values, attitudes, opinions and ideas, as well as displaying Canadian talent in entertainment programming.

Currently, the CRTC is enforcing strict restrictions on Canada’s mass media expression. Canadian radio and television broadcasters must comply with many regulations that inhibit their ability to offer the highest quality content available. The CRTC mandates that 35% of Canadian radio stations broadcasts must meet at least half the criteria stated by the MAPL system, which consists of four points: The music is composed entirely by a Canadian, the music is performed by a Canadian, the music was recorded in Canada and the lyrics were written entirely by a Canadian [CRTC]. Visual content follows another process, allocating points to a show based on the number of Canadians occupying important production roles, and should content meet the minimum number of points as well as other criteria, it could be considered Canadian [CRTC].

While it is understandable that the CRTC would want to celebrate our Canadian heritage and identity, this is the wrong approach. While Canadians should be proud of their national identity, Canadian mass media and culture should not be restricted. As Canadians, we are proud to celebrate our national holidays and traditions. Many enjoy a friendly game of hockey on the coldest February day, or enjoy consuming unhealthy amounts of maple syrup. These are aspects that define the Canadian identity. Why is it expected that we celebrate our national identity through an international medium?

The majority of Canada’s aired music and television programs are American. With a larger budget and more available tools at their disposal, it is illogical to wonder why their content is vastly more entertaining than ours, and why Canadians flock to the U.S. to product their content. The guidelines of the CRTC are so harsh that even iconic Canadians, such as Justin Bieber, no longer has their content qualified as Canadian. There is no feasible way to compete against the States in a desperate attempt to ostensibly protect our Canadian identity. With the United States, and to a lesser extent other countries, having a significant number of Canadian actors, singers, directors, and other vital staff working on mass media, we should instead appreciate all content produced internationally, appreciating what our fellow citizens have to offer abroad, and allowing our culture to expand, rather than to be threatened by, radio and television produced overseas.

Written by MWR writer Bryden Cheong, edited by MWR reviewer Keyvan Mohammad-Ali

Regulations by the CRTC mandating that broadcasters feature a certain percentage of Canadian content (“CanCon”) are presently relevant and should be kept/reinforced.

I dare you to mention to me ten Canadian movies and twenty Canadian television shows… And… All right, you tried and failed. See the problem?

We have, over the years, through our various media outlets and platforms, bred a culture amongst many Canadians; an attitude of dependency on external, foreign forms of entertainment (you very well know which country I am talking about) while forgetting the possible and vast achievements to be made here at home.

If you still haven’t understood the message behind my expression, here it is cut and clear: the Canadian population and government should in fact advertise and reinforce Canadian content on movies and television shows. Now time to discuss the underachieving role of this “CanCon” concept.

Briefly, the Canadian Radio-Television Commission (CRTC) comes in in 1968 and enforces its duties set by the Broadcasting Act of Canada and implies several regulations that:

  • Oblige any and all Canadian outlets of broadcasting to contribute to the Canadian life and culture;
  • Push the outlets to exhaust Canadian resources to achieve this goal (human, capital, etc…);
  • Pressure the outlets to apply the mentioned above predominantly.

As you may have already noticed, the issues don’t  lie with the layout of a legislation that promotes Canadian “vibes”, nor in its implementation (broadcasting companies aren’t ridiculous and oblivious enough to leave these laws unattended and unfollowed). The dilemma lies in the perception! A major portion of the Canadian population, predominantly the younger generation, still depends on US-based media for satisfaction and entertainment.

While as bias and as close-minded as I may sound, the only way forward to solve this issue, is to further reinforce this policy and tighten and its screws. Increased advertising, increased regulation of the externally produced TV shows (especially, with the creation in Canada, not just the filming), and an increased budgeting for a better produced Canadian television program should all be a part of this plan. Yes, it is without argument that Canadian-produced movies and television shows tend to be a perfect medium for one who wants to fall asleep in no time, which is why the above propositions were mentioned by yours truly.

Can you truly blame nations for wanting to reinforce and strengthen its values and wide cultural aspects…among its citizens? I mean, the US does it and everyone seems to move on with its tide, so why shouldn’t we? Imagine a situation where us Canadians are dependent on ourselves when concerning such medium – our very own locally developed media television and movie industry that can be up to par with the Hollywoods and the Oscars. I do not know about you, but I definitely would like to imagine (and possibly live in) a scene where, as much as I am utmost excited to attend the premiere of an American movie, I would feel the same excitement prior to attending a Canadian film screening. I’m starting to sound dreamy here, but on a serious note, Canada does have the potential to create and develop the film, radio, and television industry that is as intriguing as the US’s, for instance. All it takes is increased local effort, decreased reliance and addiction to external entertainment industries, and the promotion and enhancement of Canadian entertainment programs.

Vive the Canada. They don’t want you to live like a true Canadian.

Written by MWR writer Bilal Gomdah, edited by MWR reviewer Cassandra Moschella

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