How Canadian Content is Killing Itself

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If you are unaware of what Canadian culture is, blame CanCon. What is CanCon? A CRTC requirement that a certain percentage of content broadcast in Canada must be at least partly written, produced, presented, or otherwise contributed to by persons in Canada. Apart from the CBC, CanCon is rarely responsible for forging a unique Canadian cultural identity.

Nor is it mean to. CanCon exists for purely political reasons — and is ironically destroying real Canadian content.

CanCon Explained

Theoretically, CanCon is supposed to jump start a renaissance of Canadian cultural activity. This is not the case.

Musicians that receive airplay on Canadian radio usually achieve success in the United States before they are allotted time. For example, Arcade Fire had no commercial radio airplay in Canada until months after the band was widely anointed rising stars in American music media.

With television, the results are more dubious. Canadian networks frequently fulfil Cancon requirements by airing series filmed in Canada but intended primarily for the lucrative United States market. One such production is Stargate SG-1. Few of Stargate’s creative people were Canadian. Canadian involvement was purely financial.

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The Real Problem with CanCon

Most Canadians see CanCon as a quirky-but-benign bureaucratic rule that’s just… there. Unfortunately, CanCon is killing Canadian content. Telcos and broadcasters invoke CanCon requirements to battle back the evil Internet Horde of Progress — in order to protect their revenue streams.

Who is this Internet Horde of Progress I refer to? Netflix.

According to telcos and broadcasters, Netflix should be banned from Canada because it does not fulfil CanCon requirements. Never mind that Netflix catalogue of Canadian content is massive, or that it is easy to procure — a certain percentage of Netflix content is not Canadian!

So here we see that CanCon is not about Canadian content — but about keeping competition out of Canada so the media cartels (as Kemp Edmonds likes to call them) can continue to thrive.

Current CRTC insignia

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CanCon’s Destructive Rampage

If we’re going to apply a rule, it should be consistent. If the media cartels are successful at utilizing CanCon to ban Netflix from Canada, they might as well ban YouTube. Better yet, they might as well ban the Internet since it is doubtful even 5% of its content is Canadian.

Yet now, Canadians already cannot access Hulu or Pandora due to CanCon. What has been the effect so far of the ban? Piracy — not because Canadians refuse to compensate creatives for their work, but because their work is being censored.

You would thinkĀ  piracy would incentivize Canadian telcos and broadcasters to create innovative Intenet channels to consume content. However, they would rather protect current revenue streams by pretending the Internet doesn’t exist.

Personally, I would rather not pirate — partly because it’s more convenient to pay $7/month for instant streaming than it is to torrent. However, if Netflix is banned and the CanCon status quo is upheld, Canada will become a nation of pirates.

If this happens, Canadian artists will not produce new work — since they will not get paid.

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