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Canadian Television on the web

New plans have been made to revitalize the broadcasting industry in Canada and expand it onto the Internet and portable…

By Ryan Fletcher , in This Cyber Life , on March 12, 2009

New plans have been made to revitalize the broadcasting industry in Canada and expand it onto the Internet and portable media.

Since the federal government slashed public funding for the CBC in the late 1970’s and 80’s Canadian television has been left victim to the travesties of advertising companies and shows that are popular and cheap to make. Producing television that will stand the test of time is secondary to the advantages of hosting cheap US shows and interspersing them with horrible adverts.

Because of this, Canadian content and Canadian culture have played second fiddle.

Now the government has announced blueprints to amalgamate the Canadian Television Fund and the Canadian New Media Fund into the Canadian Media Fund, pledging $134 million a year for two years for the fund.

Heritage Minister James Moore said that there will be “more money for more creativity and more Canadian content available on more Canadian platforms”. This includes a stipulation to integrate shows traditionally aired on television onto the Internet, which is great for those who like shows on demand.

The changes will mean the CBC, non-profit broadcasters and private networks will all bid for funding from the same pool. There are concerns: the CBC will no longer receive the guaranteed allocation it did from the previous arrangements, although it can compete for funds it was not previously allowed access to. Also, those donating the funds, many private for-profit cable companies, are sitting on the board that decides who gets what.

Both these things point to a decision-making process that could be hijacked in favour of board members’ self-interests, higher profit margins and a culture of popular throwaway television and media — the same factors that have caused Canadian television to become such a mess in the first place.

Hopefully the board will take some risks and invest in projects that will be broader in their scope than their potential for immediate popularity and cost viability.