Friday, June 26, 2009


There's a lot of things that tick me off about the Canadian TV biz, but Jim Henshaw has a post up that takes dead aim at one of them that pushes me to the edge...our specialty channels, their so-called 'genre specific' programming, and specifically, History Television (Canada's History Channel).

In fact, if you look at The History Channel's overall schedule, you're hard pressed to believe they're anywhere close to exhibiting Canadian programs "not less than 40% of the evening broadcast period".

And when barely any of those "Canadian" non-NCIS offerings deal with actual Canadian history, opting to explore urban legends, the T-Rex and Dracula, you begin to see that The History Channel has less interest in history than becoming yet another re-run platform for its corporate conglomerate's library.

As one of my visitors recently commented:

"Specialty channels are making rates of return of more than 20%.... Not hard to do when you regurgitate every property you've ever owned onto every channel it kinda almost maybe fits. Hey, we own 'Blue Murder'. It has women on it, so its a great fit for Showcase Diva AND it has people moving in it, so its a match for Showcase Action too! And its a cop show, so its PERFECT for Mystery as well."

Arguing that any of our Specialty Channels actually specialize within their genre is the current "Big Lie" in Canadian broadcasting, with The History Channel being perhaps the most hypocritical offender.

Jim goes on to say:

Despite getting slapped on the wrist for some of this by the CRTC, The History Channel just kept soldiering further from what it was licensed to do, simultaneously spitting in the faces of the CRTC Commissioners they knew were toothless and holding up the genre protection that regulator had granted them to prevent anybody else from delivering actual historical content.

Read the rest of what Jim has to say HERE.

I've also bitched about History Television in the past (back then it was owned by it's owned by CanWest Media), but now I've realized what's actually bugging me is the fact that the CRTC, our broadcasting regulatory commission, has no teeth. I mean, sure, the Commissioners can speak sternly or issue recommendations or even 'respectfully disagree', but that's just another way of saying they can do f*** all. They can't shut a BDU or broadcaster down, they can't suspend a license, they can't even impose fines for crying out loud...geez! And all the while we whine and moan about what the CRTC isn't doing, but what can they do, really?

You can't enforce when you've got no bat.

Recently, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage issued a report HERE (I know, another report) on the Issues and Challenges Related to Local Television...and while they had several worthwhile recommendations (I know, more recommendations), one in particular stood out for me.


The Committee calls on the Government of Canada to examine regulatory or legislative changes that would provide the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission with the ability to impose Administrative Monetary Penalties on broadcasters or broadcasting distribution undertakings deemed not in compliance of their licence.

Go for it, Government of Canada. Give 'em some teeth. And the road to implementing a provision that significant might make for a pretty interesting documentary that could air on, say, History Television, at some point in the future...between reruns of NCIS and Mash of course.

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