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September 23, 2014

Rose Simpson: Canadians don't need CRTC to be a cultural crossing guard

Rose Simpson's column appears most Tuesday mornings on the OttawaStart Blog. She also blogs at Rose's Cantina. You can read her previous columns here.



I don't usually watch the CRTC hearings.

I don't think I'm alone in this.

But I was riveted by them on Friday, when the captains of Canadian culture started grilling Netflix's director of global public policy, challenging her to open the corporate books, while suggesting that Netflix should pay, essentially, a Canadian culture tax.

Most of the media took to Twitter to share their embarrassment over how the CRTC commissioners conducted themselves. You'd think they were starring in a Canadian roll your own, like the Heritage Minutes, carrying muskets to fight a phantom war against technology.

We didn't ask the CRTC to do this. Canadians are grownups; we don't need a cultural crossing guard.

Justin Trudeau was right the other day.

Old men belong in gentlemen's clubs, smoking cigars. They are not needed to be the guardians of taste, or biology. It's our party and Canadians should be able to choose whatever track we want to groove upon.

Once upon a time, I suppose, Canada needed to stand up for its artists against the wave of American culture. Because of the Canadian content rules, a lot of bands got airplay and television shows got produced that shouldn't have. The real deal, artists like the Guess Who and Neil Young and Joni Mitchell didn't need their help, but let's say Edward Bear benefited.

Canadian content regulations might have gotten a lot of studios built and helped second rate creatives earn a living in Canada. They might have given Canadian deejays a lot of power back in the day.

But we don't need them anymore. Canadians have learned that competition is good for them.

The thinking that Canadian artists need protection and support is so 1970.

Justin Bieber didn't need the CRTC to become a star.

He became a star because of YouTube, not the Homegrown Café.

Justin merely used his Internet connection to become a world class asshole.

The world has been changing for a while and so have we. Canadians have become global citizens who would rather illegally steal services like Netflix US than have to watch another episode of Murdoch Mysteries. Or some aboriginal guy with his hand up the ass of a puppet on CBC in the morning.

And let's talk about that dirty little secret called the Canadian Television Fund, the place where Canadian "artists" and producers in the know go to fund the creation of content they produce to ship south of the border in the manner of Lifetime Movies, summer procedural dramas or reality shows. These people are stealing our money and smuggling it over the border in the form of crap programming.

It's time for Canadians to stand up to the regulators, the Canadian broadcasters and the erstwhile pack of showrunners who are turning Canadian culture into a joke.
Let us be free to be you and me.

I agree with Netflix's Corie Wright. Regulating the Internet the way the CRTC regulates television and radio will only hurt Canadian consumers and continue to make us a laughing stock.
For once, I agree with the Prime Minister.

When it comes to Canadian content, we don't need more regulation, we need less.


-- Rose Simpson


p.s. How much Canadian taxpayer money went into this? (Strong language warning, eh?)










See also: Ottawa Television Guide
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