BRD 015Management in the MediaRobert WatsonGovernment Involvment & Subsidy for Canadian TV Drama-What Role Should the CRTC Play?This essay focuses on the mandate and funding of public broadcasters with the implications and effects of subsidizing production and protecting the industry. The program genre focused on is Canadian television drama. What role should the CRTC play in this context? As will be seen, the implications of government involvement in subsidizing and protecting this type of Canadian production are not necessarily solely bound to the genre of drama.
Before looking at the application of individual CRTC issues as they relate to the production of Canadian television drama, one should be aware of the role of a public broadcaster. The main goal of this type of broadcaster should be to promote drama that provides a heightened sense of identity and national awareness. Especially with respect to cultural and minority programming this goal sets a unique cultural standard, compared to the US where 'culture' is created without such distinct guidelines as in Canada.
One struggle Canada faces when trying to promote its own culture in creating television drama is money. This generally means that Canadian artists have difficulty being seen or heard in the media. For example, the U.S. has a government financed operation called World Net which freely distributes programs that 'enhance U.S. culture' abroad. Thus, foreign countries may be willing to accept more American shows into their markets than Canadian media products. Canada would be in a better position if there were financial means to support similar activity in foreign markets. Up until now "financial subsidies in Canada have primarily taken the form of funding for Telecom Canada and the Broadcast Production Fund." The NFB or the CBC would definitely benefit from a 'Canadian Net' where Canadian culture could be distributed abroad, creating a new awareness of the 'Maple Leaf.'In this context the CRTC can essentially take on only a directive function, since it does not offer financial subsidies to create Canadian cultural products. As a regulatory body the CRTC makes sure that a certain amount of Canadian culture becomes voiced in TV drama, but what about a marketability of these products to foreign investors and buyers? Following this question, the CRTC is in a difficult position to balance out considerations pertaining to reaching out to an international market for its Canadian products. However, these considerations have to be made paramount, since "there are growing threats from abroad that could upset the current system [upheld by Canadian cultural advocates], threats that cannot be solved by special deals from the CRTC or government."The threat mentioned here is also a result of the present shifts and mergers within the telecommunications sector. Truly the CRTC is in a problematic position, but if one sees a threat as a potential chance, there is a way to tackle the following dilemma successfully:The CRTC is struggling to find a balance between consumer choice and the system goals of promoting and nurturing Canadian programming, while protecting the broadcasting and cable industry as they encounter increased competition. At the end of the day, the CRTC must also meet the d...