What exactly is Canadian content in the web age?

Last week, in the midst of Ottawa’s occupation, a small but iconic clip was talked about on Twitter, and an angry Ottawan stood on the balcony and cursed the blue streaks against the protesters below.

“This should be a new Canadian heritage moment,” he said, equipping more than a few people, referring to classic commercials.

That was a small thing. But these little jokes about what it means to be Canadian are part of life here.In countries that are less defined by national identity than neighboring countries, it is u uBy the way, finding small things that are familiar to us is one of the ways we understand our position in the world.

Also, on the surface, there is Cancon law. This is a familiar rule that a certain percentage of TV shows and radio songs are Canada and are the source of much Canadian content.

Of course, the web has broken the neat and simple boundaries surrounding the Canadian media. Not only did it greatly expand what Canadians can experience, but it also provided Canadians with a platform for broadcasting themselves to the world.

So what is Canadian content in the web age? And what, if any, should be done to promote it?

That’s the question that fueled Bill C-11, a new law reintroduced by the Liberal Party government, especially the online content we consume within the scope of CRTC, which currently only oversees traditional broadcasts. I’m trying to bring in a part of. .. At least part of that was that Netflix and other tech giants had to pay to fund Canadian content.

The bill, formerly known as the C-10, was so controversial that it turned out to be problematic and was crushed by the Senate.

Unfortunately, the current bill C-11, which makes no significant difference, has been criticized for much the same reason. As prominent critic and lawyer Michael Geist argues, C-11 is still too broad when it comes to defining online content and ambiguous about the definition of actual Canadian content or Canadian content creators. It may be too much.

The potential consequences of the bill require rigorous debate, with particular attention paid to the right to consume and produce as Canadians deem appropriate.

Still, aside from the details of the Bill C-11, there are probably still cases where tech giants actually need to fund the creation of Canadian content.

The Kankon law emerged for the simple reason that Canada had a historical tendency to go culturally too far. First, it was the protracted influence of Britain and its empire. Later and even today, it’s a huge influence on America, where American television is still the most popular in the country.

You will think that the Internet will overturn the tendency to be overwhelmed by others. By lowering barriers to entry and distribution, both regular Canadians and creative outlets can push content to millions of people around the world. No Cancon or government funding required.

On the surface, this is true. Take YouTube as an example. Canada has created key executives for online talent with a huge number of viewers around the world. Lily Singh of Toronto extended her YouTube fame to a late-night television talk show in the United States.

Similarly, on YouTube for technology and gadgets, Canadians are very popular and dominate most. Popular channels such as Linus Tech Tips, Dave2D, Unbox Therapy and Rene Ritchie have recorded millions of subscribers and billions of channel views.

So how can we argue that Cancon’s funding is still legitimate in the 21st century?

Simply put, if you look at these popular Canadian channels, they all serve American viewers. The price is in US dollars, the availability is about the United States, and the expected audience is American.

Far from the web promoting a more Canadian version of our culture, it has produced a more American version. Because creators have to direct their channels to where they have the highlights and money.

On the creator’s side, that’s understandable. But is there a small and unique Canadian thing that allows us to recognize ourselves in the media we consume? Money speaks more than culture, so they are lost on the globalized web.

That’s why Canada needs to fund Canadian content. This is because there is an inherent imbalance in population, capital and influence. Far from open competition, the very openness of the web carries the risk of further homogenization.

Traditional Cancon law may not have a place online. They are too hard and too difficult to force. But funding the Canadian stories that Canadians have created for Canadians still seems like a noble endeavor. And who should pay more than the tech giant who created this new world?

Navneet Alang is a Toronto-based star freelance contribution technology columnist. Follow him on Twitter: @navalang

What exactly is Canadian content in the web age?

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