Canadian broadcasters have recently have been crying wolf over how little money they make and how we have to support (terrible) local TV. But they’re facing an even bigger foe in the internet, which has progressed to the point where much of the programming they used to enjoy on their television they can now enjoy online.
I have to say that’s been my experience for a few years. I no longer listen to the radio, instead opting for a steady diet of podcasts. And I barely watch ant television anymore. I simply download the best stuff the BBC has to offer, and the rest of my video diet consists of shows people have put together on their own and put on the internet.
And for the most part, I don’t miss TV. But I am a little concerned that as viewers shift online, context and production quality will suffer. I once worked with someone who had poured their heart and soul into making the slickest possible tv show, and after years of success they saw their core audience migrating to internet shows that didn’t look anywhere near as good and were, in all fairness, not as well put together as his show. I pride myself on making video content for the web that looks as good as tv. BUt I sometimes worry that my effort is for nothing, that people’s tastes have changed to the point where they’ll watch any old crap and production value will mean nothing to them.
Right now the industry is in flux, with money leaking out of TV but not enough money going online to sustain producers. Eventually the money will shift online, but I hope that in the meantime quality content doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.
The pickings are a little sparse right now (and by a little, I mean there ain’t a hell of a lot besides Corner Gas, Robson Arms and South Park to choose from) but the Canadian iTunes store finally has some television content. On the one hand most of the TV I watch is from the UK, so this doesn’t do me a hell of a lot of good, but on the other hand spending $15 for a virtual box set doesn’t look like that bad of an option compared to torrenting a show for a week. Beats cable, at any rate.
My non-Canadian readers may not be aware of it, but Canada’s media industries have long worked under the yoke of CanCon, a government policy that states TV and radio stations must play “X” amount of Canadian content if they want to play other, predominantly American, shows and music that people actually want to watch and listen to. There are several flaws in the system, not the least of which is that is if a Canadian artist becomes a huge success, like Celine Dion or Bryan Adams, their work is no longer considered “Canadian.” Actually, given the suckitude of both those artists, maybe that isn’t such a bad policy.
At any rate, Cancon regulations created a myriad number of terrible bands who would have otherwise never been heard of, and recent successes like the Montreal indie music scene have more to do with file sharing and Myspace than they do with cultural policy.
So it’s amusing to me that a bunch of Canadian artists want to regulate the internet in order to make sure online content created by Canadians doesn’t get buried under a deluge of American content. It seems like they’re fighting the last war, when scarce space on the airwaves meant there was only so much room for content to be seen. With the internet, those conditions no longer apply. Speaking as a content creator myself, I know most of my (small) fan base isn’t even in Canada, but rather in the US, England, and Australia.
Amusing, but shocking. Try to keep up, whiny Canadian artists. While you were begging for grants and throwing derisive glares at those of us who don’t make experimental tone poems on Super8 film, the world passed you by.
Jane Chalmers, the head of CBC Radio, has resigned after five years on the job, citing a “major midlife redesign.” Every time the CBC revamps, which it inevitably will with this development, I get worried. Mothercorp always decides they need to target the youth market, make a bunch of shows no-one wants to listen to, and then repeats the process a year later. There are notable exceptions…Search Engine and Spark, both new shows, are pretty decent, and the CBC seems to have finally figured out that CBC Radio 3 does a fine job of appealing to a certain set of youth (the ones that like good music and hate Nickelback) and have left it to do its thing.
Plus, I listen to CBC almost exclusively via podcasts (along with, quite frankly, most of my media consumption.) So as long as they don’t screw up their online offerings, I’ll be happy. Meantime, keep up with all the goings-on at CBC at Inside the CBC, the official Mothercorp blog.