Dear Minister Joly,
This week I read with despair that the CRTC is cutting the creative dramatic obligation of our television broadcast industry by 50%. At a time when the industry is under pressure to change its business model because of streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, this seems a contradictory position. To compete against the onslaught from these services our broadcasters need to be encouraged to create work that reflects our Canadian voice, this will make their creative products attractive to audiences around the world. This isn’t just my opinion, it’s a fact! All you have to do is look at the content on these American services, they’re from all over the world and many of the best aren’t American.
In the past the CRTC has supported Canadian creative artists by forcing broadcasters to use Canadian content to great success. When Canadian private radio broadcasters were forced by the CRTC to increase their content of Canadian music they complained that this would mean they would lose money, that no one would listen. The opposite happened. The Canadian music industry was created and it flourished, both here and internationally. The lesson here is that the private broadcast industry will always look at the bottom line, without the vision of our common cultural heritage and voice and the uniqueness of our experience. They have chosen to go the easy route of buying American cultural products and have basically thrown in the towel. Facilitating this means the death of Canadian dramatic production at a time when there are so many great shows being released. I’m thinking of the magnificent The Handmaid’s Tale, and the uniquely Canadian Anne, the former is also available on Hulu and you can stream it on Apple and Google’s services and the latter being broadcast in Canada before being available internationally on Netflix. Allowing private industry to give up on original Canadian dramatic television production is tantamount to destroying our industry.
I quote from Prime Minister Trudeau’s letter to you on your appointment as Minister of Canadian Heritage: As Minister of Canadian Heritage, your overarching goal will be to implement our government’s plan to strengthen our cultural and creative industries. Our cultural sector is an enormous source of strength to the Canadian economy. Canada’s stories, shaped by our immense diversity, deserve to be celebrated and shared with the world. Our plan will protect our important national institutions, safeguard our official languages, promote the industries that reflect our unique identity as Canadians, and provide jobs and economic opportunities in our cultural and creative sectors.
I look forward to hearing that you have overturned the CRTC’s decision.