This is shaping up to be a big week for Canadian content issues. On Thursday the CRTC will issue its satellite radio decision which is likely to feature discussion on how Canadian content requirements can or will be ported from traditional radio to satellite radio.
Meanwhile, the Canadian Press is reporting that the television industry got some good news this weekend from Canadian Heritage Minister Liza Frulla, as the federal government has committed $100 million toward funding Canadian television shows.
I am generally supportive of Canadian government arts funding as I think it is a far better mechanism than more restrictive copyright laws to promote the creation and dissemination of Canadian culture. Despite the good intentions, however, the track record isn't all that great. On Saturday Kate Taylor of the Globe and Mail wrote a stinging article on the state of Canadian television titled Wanted: More Homegrown Hits. While Minister Frulla would not doubt argue that the $100 million will do just that, Taylor's article points to the reality behind the development of a prime time schedule at Canada's leading private networks. She labels the Canadian networks "parasites buried deep in the fur of the Hollywood beast" and laments that while Canadian simulcasting policies "nurtures a domestic ad industry and domestic television stations, it does nothing to promote domestic content on television because it makes it so lucrative to use American content."
Strong words. If only the $100 million came with some similarly strong conditions to better ensure that Canadian content gets produced and actually viewed by Canadians and the broader global market.