Monday, June 8, 2015

THe Strange Death Of Canadian TV

At first I thought incoming Bell Media president Mary Ann Turcke was jesting when she described her outrage when she discovered her teenaged daughter directly tuning in to the U.S. version of Netflix.
The very idea! Grrrrr!
Turcke knows the entire rickety premise of Canadian TV is founded on several technological ploys which soon will be swept away.
Turcke told her audience that all Canadians who dare use virtual private networks to access U.S. signals are guilty of stealing.
And, no, she wasn't joking at all.
The sad state of Canadian TV these days is based on a technological ploy invented in the early Eighties.
Canadian networks got the CRTC to agree to black out incoming U.S. network signals (via cable TVC) and insert Canadian channels as long as the programs were the same.
In one stroke Canadian networks got double ratings although they were not actually paying for this.
And in that move Canadian content was stalled if not destroyed.
There was no way any Canadian series could compete.
U.S. shows had double ratings. They came with all the hoopla of magazine covers and puff pieces on the entertainment shows.
And just to prove my thesis one year CTV actually ran three Canadian made shows back to back on Saturday nights only to watch them crash and burn in the ratings.
It was the last time in Canadian TV history when Canadian scripted shows actually dominated on a Canadian commercial channel.
But in recent years new technology has allowed Canadians to resist the artificial world of blackouts and simulcasting.
When I told the teenaged geek up the street how I wished I could access "hulu" --a service owned by NBC and Universal but not accessible in Canada he merely yawned.
"Use it all the time. I use a phony U.S. address. And I use another British address to get all the UK specialty shows I want."
Netflix claims to reach almost 40 per cent of Canadian TV subscribers without any aid from the Big Three (Bell Media, Shaw TV, Rogers TV).
Sorry, Ms. Turcke, but I see little commitment in Bell's fall TV schedule to the CRTC rule of 50 per cent content.
On CTV One there's exactly one drama series --the well made Saving Hope, and it consists of reruns on the low rated Saturday night.
CTV Two has reruns of Flashpoint in its schedule.
In 1985 I could count 11 quality hour long Canadian scriptyed dramas.
But the private broadcasters beat up on the CRTC and forced it to drop its content regulations concerning scripted drama.
"Trust us," they said and the result was the next season saw just two scripted dramas left
Ms. Turcke must explain why with all the perks on her side subscribers continue to jump to the competition.
Would not an equal outlay of money on Canadian drama entice many back --it would be an area where Netflixs cannot compete.

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