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Public Broadcasting

Public Broadcasting

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Public Broadcasting

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  1. Public Broadcasting • Defined to mean publicly-owned, independent TV and Radio • Historically, prevalent in all countries except US until the 80s • Europe had mostly public broadcasting monopolies • US mostly commercial oligopoly • Canada a hybrid: mixed public and private system CMNS 130

  2. Politics, Broadcasting and the CBC • Identity Defined • Canadian Political Culture and Canadian Values • The Cultural Industries and Canadian identity • Origins of broadcast regulation • The CBC Story • Arguments for and against the CBC CMNS 130

  3. The Search for Identity • Early history of media associates cultural industries with Nationalism • Most regimes have strongly nationalistic or nationally oriented and local media content and systems • Through the media, like education, citizens build self, social and political identities CMNS 130

  4. Review: National Political Identity • Deutsch: • A nation must interact more often internally than externally to remain politically cohesive • Media flows should promote national ID • Contribute to the sharing of basic values and beliefs ( cognitive and rational) • A Sense of Attachment to Place( emotional) CMNS 130

  5. Review: Media and Political Identity • Central to political socialization ( learning to be a citizen) • Convey information about basic citizen’s rights and responsibilities • Transmit /Promote basic national symbols • Create climate of political trust/alienation: political and consumer confidence in the economy, in foreign policy • Now an arena where political controversy is channelled: representative presence in media is key to political enfranchisement CMNS 130

  6. Media and Political Identity 2 • Most systems regulate election broadcasting due to the importance to political choice and identity building • Only public broadcasting systems make explicit the role in political identity CMNS 130

  7. Review: Perceptions of National Identity • World Values study • Book entitled How Canadian Connect(1998) • There is a distinct Canadian identity • 47% agree • 40% disagree– there is no majority view of an “imagined Canadian community” • Paradoxically, 83% agree Canadian culture is something we can take pride in CMNS 130

  8. The Policy Problem • the Canadian broadcasting system is based upon a series of assumptions or contestable hypotheses • contestable hypotheses: • people want commercial mass entertainment • given a choice, the people choose American cultural products for entertainment • American domination of products has eroded Canadian identity • Yet Canadian communication scholars know little about how Canadian national identity is constructed in meaning CMNS 130

  9. Cultural Industries and Canadian Identity • Strong sense of awareness, pride and attachment to: authors, popular musicians, local news, sports, CBC radio etc • Low awareness and cultural preference for Canadian TV drama • 2/3 of french viewing is to Canadian shows • 1/3 of english viewing is to Canadian • 12% of all entertainment • 18 of top 20 shows all American • English Canada is the only TV market in the world where local citizens do not prefer local drama product CMNS 130

  10. Canadian vs. US TV Practices • Watch 30% less TV • 5 times more likely to watch a public/non-commercial broadcaster • Higher tolerance for complex info • Watch more news: less infotainment • West wing/Law and Order:SVU high end US shows • Today; 24, House do better in Canada than the US • Watch Canadian programs first in • News • Sports • Comedy • Greater Participation: phone ins etc. CMNS 130

  11. Broadcasting • The preeminent cultural industry as measured by leisure time ( 21 hours a week– most after work) • Now about $ 4 billion annually in revenues( 50% production) • TV has become the most trusted news source surpassing the newspaper • By age of 12, Canadian children have spent more time with TV than with school CMNS 130

  12. The Broadcasting System • - mixed: with public and private elements • Competitive • Highly regulated by the CRTC • ( Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) • Which licenses and monitors • Classic case of social responsibility model CMNS 130

  13. The Broadcasting Act (1991) • The Canadian Broadcasting System will serve to safeguard enrich and strengthen the cultural, political social and economic fabric of Canada • Each element will contribute to the creation and presentation of Canadian programs • Each.. Will Make Maximum use and no less than predominant use of Canadian creative resources CMNS 130

  14. Rationale for Intervention • Doctrine of national sovereignty(spectrum) • Natural Monopoly ( spectrum) • Market Failure • History of spectrum chaos • Other case of Market Failure • Diseconomies of scale in certain productions • 40% time spent with drama • Average US drama $1.2-2 million US per episode • US market recovers cost and can sell into Canada at 1/10th the cost • Thus, private commercial broadcasters can make no profit on domestic drama CMNS 130

  15. Canadian Content Quota • Requires 60% overall and 50% CANCON in prime time • Quota is a Make Jobs program: • Its definitions revolved around citizenship of the writer, producer, technical crews etc. shooting the series • The Quota is not a qualitative one: does not require distinctively creative stories CMNS 130

  16. Other Regulations • Restrict foreign ownership • Disallow spending on ads in US border media • Simultaneous Substitution Rule to protect ad revenues of private broadcasters • ALL TO INCREASE ACCESS TO CANADIAN ‘CHOICES’/ PRODUCT ON SHELF SPACE CMNS 130

  17. Development of the System • 20 years ago, no viable private network • Now 2 which have bought out newspapers • Now viable TV production industry • Now top 10 companies: Alliance Atlantis is in top 20 worldwide( recently sold to Goldman/Sachs & Global CanWest pending approval) • Canada 2nd largest TV exporter after US CMNS 130

  18. Track Record of TV in CANCON • Internationally recognized news, sports • Animation/sci fi and special effects • Kids • Documentaries and Docudrama • Popular MOWs ( Anne of Avonlea, Sheldon Kennedy Story) CMNS 130

  19. Track Record Cont;d • The Canadian Prime Time Dramas: • Corner Gas ( CTV) • Falcon Beach ( Canwest) • …. CMNS 130

  20. Track Record Cont’d • Still no Home Run series internationally ( except CSI) • Still no domestic star system • Domestically: DaVinci’s, Bob and Margaret among the best • But less than 12% of drama we watch is Canadian ( versus 66% in most other countries) CMNS 130

  21. Do we Need the CBC? • You Decide CMNS 130

  22. Turn the tables and question private broadcasters • They are Strong in local news • But act only as Resellers of US programs • 5% of Global’s prime time audience is to Canadian shows (eg. BCTV) • CTV/Global Schedules are set in New York by US networks • Spend 400 m annually on US programming,$ Just 50 on Canadian drama • But eligible for over $500 million in subsidy and protections ( Nordicity, 2006) CMNS 130

  23. Review: The Economic Problem • Underdeveloped Ad Market • TV ad revenues are 66% the size of their US counterparts on a per capita basis • Why? Overspill of US ads • Underdevelopment of sectors of ads which are in the public realm in Canada (health, education etc) CMNS 130

  24. Economic Problem 2 • Global can go to Hollywood and buy rights to air Greys’ Anatomy in Canada, and pay 100 K or less per episode • But costs to produce a Anatomy here would be 2 million per episode ( 10 to 20 times more) • Why? Economies of scale in the US: US product recovers most of its costs in the home market, can afford to sell below cost in foreign countries • Cheaper to import license than make CMNS 130

  25. Economic Problem 3 • Increasingly concentrated in ownership • Why protect BCE/CTV? CanWEST? • System of deregulation and competition has produced a more American, less unique entertainment market CMNS 130

  26. The CBC Story • Created in 1932 by unanimous Act of Parliament ( all parties) • 5 provinces endorsed • Became dominant news source WW2 • Still the largest single employer of journalists in this country • Ranks well as measured by levels of trust, ratings on quality on national news stories in polls CMNS 130

  27. CBC Cultural Legacy: French • -two solitudes in one institution • Radio Canada integral to rise of Quebec nationalism • Subject of separatist witchhunts: allegations of bias from Trudeau to Chretien CMNS 130

  28. CBC Legacy: English • Rise of English nationalism: royalist • Created national hockey culture • Golden age 30s to 60s • Commitment to “life of the Mind” • Rise of political satire CMNS 130

  29. CBC Trend setting Style • Town halls • Among the most progressive of election sites • No ads in the intro line up of news (less than 5% of TV content is non-commercial) • Pioneered “double enders” • Broke: tainted blood controversy, Rwanda, only network to cover 96 provincial election • Stuffy? White bread? Against, what? Say, Tony Parsons? • Superb coverage of September 11: viewership of news now on par with CTV in Toronto markets CMNS 130

  30. Political Pressures on CBC • This Hour Has 7 days • Hot seat, first shock TV • Valor and Horror • Gustafsen Lake • Terry Milewski and APEC controversy • Constant political scrutiny of editorial tampering • Office of ombudsman: is political pressure more transparent than in private sector? • CBC, like private media, part of making power, reality and history • Newsworld: Counterspin and other innovations CMNS 130

  31. “Successes” • News • This Hour has 22 minutes • Hockey Night in Canada • Canada: A People’s History • Over 90% of programs are Canadian • Has a 45% share of audiences looking for Canadian drama in prime time • CBC radio fans are most loyal ( a 12% share) • CBC TV has a 6% share; half that of CTV but 4 times that of PBS in the US CMNS 130

  32. CBC Failures: Or Failing the CBC? • 1/3 government cutbacks since 95 • Local and regional news most cut • Now among the lowest funded of public broadcasters in the world ( except for PBS) ( source: • Increasingly reliant on commercial revenue • Half of all TV revenues • Causes turn to sports, other low cost genres like informational programming • Now a “subsidized commercial broadcaster” CMNS 130

  33. CBC Sins: Or Sins Against the CBC • Too culturally homogenous • Not relevant for young audiences • Online • Drop the Beat/ Edgemont • DNTO • The Hour • Radio Three • CounterSpin • Regional: deracinated CMNS 130

  34. CBC And Democracy • State and not a Public Broadcaster • Appointments should be by Parliament and not the PM • Need Citizens’ advisory councils • Need partnerships: campus radio, community cable channels and ETV • More responsive and open and innovative CMNS 130

  35. Why Keep the CBC • Only counterweight to media oligopolies • An important democratic tool: an independent news agency in competition with CanWest and Vancouver Sun • Just as important as education/other areas of social policy • Market cannot do what the CBC does, and CBC should not do what the market can provide • CBC most aggressive in internet interactive portals: five years ahead of CTV/CanWest Global • Canada’s Radio Canada International a service underfunded and adrift: now eclipsed by CNN/VOA and BBC CMNS 130

  36. The People and the CBC • Share is now around 6%: half that of CTV • But reach is 80% • Widespread reach across age,gender,class and racial lines– but latter not as good as could be • Usage or time spent with CBC: 53% spend an hour a week; 63% a half an hour CMNS 130

  37. Public Opinion and the CBC • The majority support keeping the CBC, even if they do not watch it: for its ‘public good value’ • the struggle for democratic CBC continues • Strongly influenced by: • Libertarian versus social responsibility views of media • Relative fear of covert political or economic censorship as threat to media and democracy • What should be the role of a “people’s network”? CMNS 130

  38. Last Word from the Mandate Review Committee ( that’s me) • Canadian programming should be based on a profound curiosity about things Canadian, as well as the rest of the world. An understanding of the world, however, starts with an understanding of ourselves, of those near and dear to us, of our neighbors and compatriots. A vast country like ours desperately needs a medium of communication like CBC radio and television to enrich its citizens– not only as individuals but also as members of a community, a region, a province, a country. ( Mandate Review Committee, Making Our Voices Heard, 1996: 43) • What idea is missing? CMNS 130

  39. CMNS 130

  40. The Dilemma of the Democratic Model (1) • Public Broadcasting stayed allied to the nationalist power project too long ( CC 573) • A focus on nationalism obscured: • Role of elites • English and French • regional differences & needs • Canada’s role in the world: non US orientations • It marginalized debates over the appropriate relation of public broadcasting to its peoples CMNS 130

  41. The Dilemma of the Democratic Model(2) • Public, non-commercial broadcasting is democratic if: • it is accountable to Parliament • it seeks to serve all of the people some of the time • it allows the public to have a say in basic practices and priorities in the provision of programming • Eamon in Channels of Influence (1994) maintains: • audience research should play a special role in a public broadcasting organization • the public, rather than the state or market, must be enabled to determine the kind of services public tax money should provide CMNS 130

  42. Dilemma con’td • Majid Tehranian: • empowerment means the creation of communicators rather than audiences cum consumers or subjects; • it demands, full, active communicative citizenship (Eamon, xi) • Often public broadcasting is the least stratified cultural practice ( CC:574) CMNS 130

  43. What is needed: A Rights based Approach • A breakthrough to a democratic “right to communicate” • The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not establish a “right to communicate” • What this entails: • Recognition that communication is an intrinsic right • That people have a right to tell their own stories, and must have the resources to live to do so • Everyone has a right to fair and equitable local and global communication resources they need to communicate • Everyone has a right to participate in and make decisions about culture and communication CC 580-582 CMNS 130

  44. Future of the CBC • Must protect it from Partisan influence ( end patronage appointments, have Board appoint President) • Must fund it: stable long term funding (value it like education) • Decentralize it • Offer more space for: • Do it Yourself Media/Public Access Media • Community and Campus media access • Model: New Music Canada CMNS 130

  45. A Strong Alternative Media Policy • In addition to a public not for profit broadcaster, there is need for a healthy ecosystem of alternative minority & not for profit media • Including radical media which challenge dominant institutions and values including the private and public broadcasters • “citizens” or DIY media • In Canada, only the province of Quebec offers artists/other grants to indie/alt media • NFB history of Challenge for Change (CC 600) CMNS 130

  46. STUDY TIP • Why is there a need for alternative media? Consult CC 596-598 • How does Myspace/Youtube Alt Media differ from Community or other forms of participatory media? CMNS 130

  47. Sources • For a recent review of the CBC, see Our Cultural Sovereignty, 2003. • Or log on to <> to see the 2007 Mandate Review of the CBC CMNS 130