Saving television is essential to the long-term survival of our culture, but it’s off to a very bad start.
Justin Trudeau doesn’t have much time left to ensure the survival of public television before Pierre Poilievre enters the studios with his big clogs. The Conservative leader has promised not to attack French Radio-Canada, but how will he withstand the pressure he will face within his own party to purge all public television?
If we only consider CBC television viewers – about 6% – his disappearance shouldn’t cause much of a stir. Except for English-speaking authors and artists, almost all of whom would be permanently unemployed if they only had to rely on private television. As for the artisans, they are already earning very well from American productions recorded in Toronto and Vancouver studios. But whether Pierre Poilievre likes it or not, CBC Radio represents a strong element of cohesion for all English speakers, and public television still plays an important role in remote regions.
In Quebec and French Canada the television landscape is very different. Two television channels, Radio-Canada and TVA, are crucial for French speakers and the presence of a third, Noovo, is by no means negligible. The audiences of these three networks are older, but still represent the majority. Cable and satellite subscriptions that provide access to French-language channels are declining every year, but two-thirds of Quebecers are still loyal to them and the disappearance of the service is not for tomorrow.
ONLY ONE TV NETWORK?
Analysts and commentators unanimously deplored the dramatic cuts TVA is having to endure. To my knowledge, none of them, except Mario Dumont, dared to question Radio-Canada’s privileged position. If this situation continues, the risks of one day having only a single television channel are not imaginary.
Whatever contribution the digital giants might make to our broadcasting system under the Continuous Online Broadcasting Act, they alone will never succeed in restoring a certain balance between public and private television. Ultimately, the situation of a public broadcaster feeding off all the coffers while receiving two-thirds of its budget from the state can only lead to the stagnation, if not the disappearance, of private television.
THE END OF ADVERTISING
There have been calls for an end to advertising on Radio-Canada for decades, which would be a huge help for commercial television. In the end, the government imposed a ban on advertising on CBC/Radio-Canada radio, which never went so well! Nearly four years ago, the Yale report recommended eliminating advertising from Radio-Canada’s news and public affairs programs. The federal Liberal Party even included the measure in its election manifesto, but the matter remained a dead letter and no one is talking about it anymore.
Why does public television need state funding for its entertainment programs and drama series when it can also sell advertising and count on all the profits that private broadcasters receive through the media fund and tax credits for independent productions? It’s shameful that CBC/SRC can have it both ways.
Thinker. Professional social media fanatic. Introvert. Web evangelist. Total pop culture fan.