A coalition of arts groups is asking Ottawa to protect the Canadian identity by regulating the Internet, which so far has remained untouched by government oversight in this country.
The group of 18 associations of content creators – most of them from Quebec – says the Internet should be subject to the same rules as TV and radio – that is, it should have more Canadian-made content.
Also, artists should get a cut of the money Internet providers make every time Canadian content is transmitted to homes, said Richard Hardacre, president of the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists.
What’s the real story here? I don’t think it’s artists hungry for cash, and here’s why:
- In a world where file sharing is ubiquitous and web regulation is relegated to Saudi Arabia and China, only an imbecile would think that Canada could and would control Internet content.
- No actual artist is quoted in the article, nor are any of the other “18 associations” cited. Given that we’re talking about Canadian arts and culture, I would have liked to have heard from a Canadian artist.
- The Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists is also known as ACTRA, and they’re a labour union.
- Richard Hardacre, the ACTRA president, has no ideas about how this regulation might take place, or what it might look like. He says (I’m not sure if I hear irony or not) “”We have great deal of faith in the CRTC. We’re just asking them to not let this remain the Wild West.”
Reframing the Issue
I’m ill-informed, but let me speculate. ACTRA is a protectionist organization, and according to a recent press release, fears foreign ownership. That release specifically identifies “CanWest Global’s U.S.-funded takeover of one of Canada’s leading media companies” as a threat. They’re reframing the foreign ownership issue, arguing that it will “damage our cultural sovereignty, deepen the crisis in Canadian drama and potentially jeopardize Canadian content rules”.
CanWest also owns the Montreal Gazette, where this story was reported. They were all too happy to go along with the CanCon angle, because it directs attention away from the corporate takeover and union’s true concerns about job loss.
Does anybody have the average Canadian news consumer in mind? Nope. Both parties seem to be intentionally obfuscating the truth.
I’ve invited both Roberto Rocho, the Gazette journalist, and Mr. Hardacre to clarify things. Specifically, I’ve asked Mr. Rocho why no artists were quoted in the story, and why none of the other arts organizations were mentioned. I’ve asked Mr. Hardacre to provide some specific information about the kind of regulation he’d like to see.
UPDATE (December 4, 2007): I failed to recognize that this article was actually about a month old. My bad, there.
UPDATE #2 (December 4, 2007): I heard back from Mr. Rocho, who wrote article. With his permission, I’ll quote his response:
Now, as to why other artists werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t quoted, the answer is simple: none of the artists organizations I contacted returned my calls in time. Only ACTRA.
I wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t satisfied with only Mr. HardacreÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s voice in my story, since one in 18 hardly satisfies my idea of a representative view. But given that all groups put their names of the press release and showed a united front, given deadline demands, it had to do.
Personally, I found it hard to believe that hundreds of content makers spanning 18 groups can all be this monumentally clueless about the reality of the Internet. But my personal opinion shouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t matter. I reported the information that was available to me at the time.