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Sticks and Stones
April 29, 2005 2:45 PM   Subscribe

Sticks and Stones - exploring the US news media from a Canadian perspective, a great documentary produced by CBC's "The Fifth Estate" has been made available for viewing online. I hope the CBC starts doing this more often.
posted by Space Coyote (40 comments total)

 
Ann Coulter is speaking at University of Texas soon. I wonder how many Canadians I can round up to go...
posted by blendor at 3:15 PM on April 29, 2005


It's stalled for me on the last 10 minutes, but one what I've seen so far:

It's very interesting, needless to say, but I'm disapointed. I really would have liked it if they had investigated the charges of the insider that CBS news was biased liberal - or even any mainstream. Very difficult, maybe, but at least they could have looked at a month or so of broadcasts, looking at what they said. Sort of like what the MRC are doing, only trying to be really objective about it. If there is a liberal bias in the American mainstream media, then it should be apparent. But then, if you define simply talking about homelessness or AIDs to be liberal, I can easily imagine that you would think the mainstream media is biased, because your line between left and right is so far to the right (especially in a Canadian context). But how is it liberal to be concerned about large numbers of people sleeping outside in winter, in danger of freezing to death? I thought this was just being moral, and certainly any Christian should be worried about homelessness.

The bits on Fox news and reporters they employ simply getting the facts wrong (unintentionally or not) were better - that is something concrete that can be presented. When they showed Ann Coulter to know nothing about recent Canadian international history, or when Bill O'Reilly invented a publication (talk about bald faced! If one of my students did that, they would fail their course, perhaps be expelled) - those were damning moments for those commentators. But the point would have been made more strongly had the Fifth Estate also looked at other media organisations (other networks, NPR, PBS, etc), to determine whether they are more or less accurate.

I guess I feel like this program will play well to those already convinced, but doesn't present enough facts to convince those who believe the O'Reillys and Coulters of the world.

For the record, and for anyone who is unfamiliar with the paper: the Globe and Mail is not the "Toronto Globe and Mail" (as named by either Coulter or O'Reilly - I've forgotten which) - it is a national paper- not is it in the least way left wing. It's editorial policy is decidedly fiscally conservative, though, because it is an excellent paper (best international coverage of any of the dailies available in Toronto) this editorial policy confines itself primarily to the editorial page, which is where it should be. It's more middle of the road seeming now, since the National Post got going, but it would be more accurate to say that road has moved right rather than the Globe changing. But to see it as extremely left wing? I don't want to Godwin, but I mean, maybe if you were fascist the Globe would seem like a commie rag...but to the rest of the world, it's centre right.

But at the same time - did anyone else have a Babylon 5 flashback hearing some of the clips about how you are either with the current adminstration or against America? It was creepily like the Earth news after they were purged.
posted by jb at 3:43 PM on April 29, 2005


Wow. It is just incredible how stupid Ann Coulter is.

It's pretty interesting to see Canada's own Rachel Marsden... she is truly a psycho. She charged her former swim coach with sexual harassment, and basically ruined the guy's life. After an investigation that took years, it was determined that in fact it was she who was harassing him. She then went on to harass her next boyfriend. Now... she's an arch-conservative.

Go figure.
posted by Rusty Iron at 3:43 PM on April 29, 2005


"I guess I feel like this program will play well to those already convinced, but doesn't present enough facts to convince those who believe the O'Reillys and Coulters of the world."

Here's the thing about fans of O'Reilly and Coulter... facts don't work with them. They will simply ignore them. They have constructed their own reality where reason does not apply.
posted by Rusty Iron at 3:47 PM on April 29, 2005


I really want to ask Bill O'Reilly if he ever went out for falafel with Ann Coulter.
posted by Kickstart70 at 3:50 PM on April 29, 2005


Make sure you watch the rebuttal clip where O'Reilly compares the program to nazi propaganda! Awesome!

I can't believe Coulter then went and said that because (in her words) "tens thousand Canadians" went to the US to join the Vietnam war meant that she was right and that "Canada sent troops". I mean, she looked like a fucking idiot for the first screwup but that "recovery" is even more pathetic.

One thing that bothers me about O'Reilly is that the majority of anti-O'Reilly stuff I see centers around that Glick fellow. Makes me think that either a) the media is using him as the poster boy because he's young and his dad died in 9/11 or b) not too many people have been treated that way by Bill, both which don't help their case.

Marsden in the hot seat after saying O'Reilly was a hypocrit for saying one thing and then doing another (the sexual harrassment) was fantastic. "Yes, that's hypocrisy.... well, not when it's me!"
posted by dobbs at 3:56 PM on April 29, 2005


Also - it would be a much more interesting documentary if it contrasted American news media culture with that in other countries. There is a really difference in the way reporters work in different cultures; British reporters are nasty, willing to rip apart anyone to test their facts (there's a good show on BBC radio where they do this to both sides of a given debate). Canadian reporters are not quite that tough, but not quite as nice as American reporters. This isn't bias - just very different ideas about how reporters work, especially when talking to / about politicians.

I happen to believe the purpose of news media isn't to be fair and balanced, it's to provide a check to the government, to tell the truth and give the public honest facts, even if that truth favours one side of a political debate. There is, of course, a great deal of slipperness in terms of what truths you present - eg. do you report GDP or do you report HDI? - and there we can talk about the need for balance. But it's not about giving equal time for everyone. If that were so, then I'm demanding the Penguin Liberation Front of Nova Scotia gets a show on Fox. If you don't agree with the facts presented, you have to come up with your own facts that can prove their facts either to be wrong, or only to be part of the story. This is the trust the public puts into the media, and I think it is a sacred trust.
posted by jb at 3:59 PM on April 29, 2005


"Vicious attack on Fox News by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, totally out of any kind of bounds," said O'Reilly

Uh-huh...
posted by jikel_morten at 4:02 PM on April 29, 2005


Further, why do Americans (and some Canadians, judging by the viewer feedback on the site) believe that the CBC is owned by the government? As far as I knew, it is a Crown Corporation, subsidized by the government, but in no way owned or controlled in the least. Otherwise, why would they be bashing the Liberals so often? It would be like trying to say that the BBC, you know, the ones always getting on Tony Blair's back, are pro-government. The BBC is probably doing a better watchdog job, though - we should demand that the CBC be tougher.
posted by jb at 4:16 PM on April 29, 2005


Ummm probably because the CBC is Government funded. If media in the US was Government funded (or anytime it's uncovered to be such as the case of Armstrong Williams) there would be hell to pay.

We may have nuts on both sides rambling back and forth but at least we don't have our Government paying mafioso and bribing countless officials only to have it looked over and even "legally" banned from seeing print.
posted by TetrisKid at 4:27 PM on April 29, 2005


I think you're a little confused about how CBC works, TetrisKid.

Anyway, this could have been a better Fifth Estate, but nothing, nothing will ever beat the Vietnam part of the Coulter interview. The episode is saved on my hard drive (I torrented it a while ago.)

Absolutely awesome.

Incidentally, for CBCphiles or the interested, Cross Country Checkup, a Sunday call-in radio show hosted by Rex Murphy, has all past shows from Jan 2004 to now available in MP3. I hope they make this a podcasting feed soon. That would be great.
posted by blacklite at 4:33 PM on April 29, 2005


Why is a crown company slamming a news broadcast that was basically outlawed by the crown in Canada until just lately? Seems just a *tad* jealous me.

Normally you don't start making enemies until you give the public a little time to decide for themselves. Yeesh. Another reason I hate my tax dollars paying for the CBC.

As far as I knew, it is a Crown Corporation, subsidized by the government, but in no way owned or controlled in the least.

Yeah, right.

Canadians have a right to be suspicious of any government that is willing to force someone to spend almost $1 billion of their tax money to prop up a single TV station. About 65% of all of the CBC's funding comes from my pockets! If every man, woman, and child in Canada were to pay directly for the CBC, it would cost them $33 each year. Many premium cable packages charge less per channel!

That should make it clear that the CBC would be unable to survive if it weren't for the forced payment of their services.

As many smart people have said in the past... "Follow the money".

Don't even get me started on how the [possible [extremely likely [PM admitted]]] Liberal corruption invaded the CBC and allowed them to enjoy a boondoggle of $2 billion. I'd be angry, but from this government, it's not even a surprise.

Otherwise, why would they be bashing the Liberals so often?

So they don't have to deal with CRTC complaints from Canadians that disagree? Fortunately, because people like me are forced to pay for this tripe, people like me can force that tripe to change through complaints processes.

Of course, normally, if I don't like how news is being reported, I just turn it off and stop paying for the station (if it were a subscription channel, that is).

It would be like trying to say that the BBC, you know, the ones always getting on Tony Blair's back, are pro-government.

Funding the BBC is an OPTIONAL activity in the UK. Yes, it's tough to actually opt-out if you enjoy TV, but at least you have the option. Canadians, even those that own no TV or Radio, have no choice but to pay for the CBC.

All that being said, the CBC is usually a balanced newssource, and I would watch the station a lot more if it weren't for the spite I feel at having been forced to pay for it.
posted by shepd at 4:49 PM on April 29, 2005


About 65% of all of the CBC's funding comes from my pockets!

I can recommend a good accountant, shepd...
posted by senor biggles at 5:05 PM on April 29, 2005


If media in the US was Government funded

See, shepd, down here we're not only forced to pay for our tripe whether we have a TV or not, but we can't even remember we're doing it.
posted by queen zixi at 5:24 PM on April 29, 2005


We only pay $33 each? That's damn good. The British pay $250 (L100) a year for the BBC. Sure, you could say it's "optional", but not if you would like to legally watch tv. I used to be able to get Canadian Sesame Street when I was a kid from CBC on the aerial, at a time when my mum was having trouble getting enough money to buy bread for our lunches. There are good things about the British system (like some of the finest television produced in English), but the current Canadian system is much easier on low income people, as well as continuing to be one of the only functioning Canadian television producers.

Not matter what you say about it, at least CBC continues to produce some Canadian comedies and dramas, as well as some damn fine news and documentary programming (this particular Fifth Estate is actually not one of their better programs). How many other Canadian channels have viable comedy and drama, instead of just endlessly repeating American shows? Having Canadian television that's more than just the local news is worth much more than $33 each.
posted by jb at 5:34 PM on April 29, 2005


Also Mr Dressup - and the Big Friendly Giant.

There was Polka Dot Door too, but that was TV Ontario (another wonderful channel, of late gutted by funding cuts, but really great stuff).
posted by jb at 5:36 PM on April 29, 2005


How many other Canadian channels have viable comedy and drama, instead of just endlessly repeating American shows? Having Canadian television that's more than just the local news is worth much more than $33 each.
posted by jb at 5:34 PM PST on April 29 [!]


I love the CBC, on all mediums, but I've yet to see anything funny on the CBC... Have any recommendations?
posted by jikel_morten at 5:58 PM on April 29, 2005


I'd rather give the CBC twice as much as I currently do in my taxes, hell I'd be happy paying five times as much if we got the calibur of television production that the BBC has, with no ads to boot.

Outside of the CBC Canada has worse media concentration than even the United States (you can choose between the phone company or Izzy Asper for your private sector news. Scary proposition.)
posted by Space Coyote at 6:05 PM on April 29, 2005


I used to be able to get Canadian Sesame Street when I was a kid from CBC on the aerial, at a time when my mum was having trouble getting enough money to buy bread for our lunches.

So did I, oddly enough, and in the same situation!

However, not much later, I was happy my parents managed to scrape enough together to pay the cable bill and get me Commander Tom (thanks WKBW!). I took Commander Tom's offerings over anything the CBC ever made anyday.

That's always the problem with justifying forcing people to pay for entertainment -- you will never, ever find a happy medium without turning the entertainment communist. And, since Canada *isn't* communist, that's why you find so many Canadians like me that consider the CBC nothing more than a waste of our hard earned money.

For all of those of you who would be so happy to pay for the CBC... why don't you tell the government that?! PLEASE!!! If they knew that there were so many Canadians willing to pay $250 a year to watch the CBC they wouldn't be forcing *me* to pay for it instead, and you wouldn't have to deal with the CBC having to peddle crap to placate citizens like myself!

(btw, jb: That's $33 per person. From what I recall, the UK TV license is per household, which means easily over $150 per household in Canada funds the CBC. Also the BBC transmits something like two dozen stations, not just the two or three CBC transmits in Canada -- furthermore paying the BBC license in the UK entitles you to free digital television broadcasts, whereas in Canada you are double dipped for another $25 a month!)

Wouldn't that be much preferrable? You win. I win. We all win. Better than all of us, or even some of us, being somewhat unhappy.
posted by shepd at 6:47 PM on April 29, 2005


British reporters are nasty, willing to rip apart anyone to test their facts (there's a good show on BBC radio where they do this to both sides of a given debate). Canadian reporters are not quite that tough, but not quite as nice as American reporters. This isn't bias - just very different ideas about how reporters work

I believe the British reporters are doing what's commonly called "investigative journalism." The American reporters are doing what one might call "currying favour" or "attracting advertisers."

Does the BBC have paid advertising? If not, that's probably a good part of the reason they can be hardnosed.
Mark me down as someone who'd gladly pay twice or thrice as much for CBC -- and I don't even watch TV! I do, however, listen to CBC Radio a lot, and I am ever-so-glad that we have a news media that is willing to challenge the newsmakers.

If Shepd were to learn some history, I think he'd find that CBC was instrumental in the creation of a more or less unified Canada, from coast to coast. Regional programming would have never allowed Podunk, North BC, to even have television thirty years ago, let alone television that provided the same Mr. Dressup experience to Podunk kids as it does to Fuckall, Nfld; let alone inform those in Podunk as to how Tommy Douglas's socialized healthcare would benefit them.

IMO, CBC is essential to Canada.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:50 PM on April 29, 2005


jb ... not to mention 'Hockey Night in Canada' at least, when the NHL wasn't locked out.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 7:02 PM on April 29, 2005


If Shepd were to learn some history, I think he'd find that CBC was instrumental in the creation of a more or less unified Canada, from coast to coast.

fff, if you were to read the CRTC/CBC laws, you might discover that even still now the CBC are required to provide TV services to podunkville, anyprovince, Canada. I know the CRTC/CBC laws all too well considering my business runs the fine line of the law, day in, day out, providing content the CRTC works hard to ban daily, like Italian Television (don't ask, just look it up).

The suggestion that something that worked well in the 1960's is great for today is silly. For example, the PRC was great to unify China way back when. How many people think it's so great now? Socialist television, just like socialist countries, have outlived their purpose in modern society. It's time we evolved with other first world countries.

IMO, CBC is essential to Canada.

Why? Because satellite TV doesn't reach the North Pole? Technically it reaches all of Canada's land mass, since by the time it's below the horizon you're standing on ice floating on water.

We aren't in 1960 anymore and there's no reason Canadians should have to pay for a TV tower to be installed on an hunk of ice. And before you mention there's no Free TV on satellite, think again -- there's HUNDREDS of TV channels on satellite. Free. Oddly enough, most of it from Canada is provided by CTV, not CBC. The CBC encrypts (!) most of their programming. Why one would encrypt a pre-paid service that is actually impossible to "pirate" (It'd be like a Canadian "pirating" health care), well, it's basically exactly the sort of stupidity you come to expect from a crown corporation funded by Liberal corruption.

So, sorry to burst that bubble, but we simply have no use for these laws and rules anymore. The free market has surpassed any need for them and provides 16x the channels, and 4x the educational programming. That's a hell of a lot more than the old CRTC/CBC laws ever gave anybody. And besides, those hooked on socialist TV can get twice the government mandated fix on satellite at no cost.
posted by shepd at 7:34 PM on April 29, 2005


ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzz.....
posted by Space Coyote at 8:15 PM on April 29, 2005


...ooom?
posted by shepd at 8:46 PM on April 29, 2005 [1 favorite]


For example, the PRC was great to unify China way back when.

Yes, that divided China was no good at all.

thanks ok bye
posted by blacklite at 8:58 PM on April 29, 2005


I suppose I may have inadvertently played the 'summon shepd' card when I praised the CBC, but still I really hate derails.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:04 PM on April 29, 2005


jikel_morten - Well, if you didn't like Codco or This Hour has 22 minutes, or Made in Canada (yeah, I know, they all have Rick Mercer), well, then I don't know what you'll think is funny. There's always Air Farce, the show that broke my heart by going from being a terrific radio show to being a painful television show.

Was Kids in the Hall on CBC? I'm blanking now.

shepd - Some of us still like our trappings of socialism, which in addition to national television includes a wonderful health care system. I'm living in the States currently, and I've never been so aware of how lucky Canadians are in so many ways. So CBC isn't perfect - few things are. But it's a damn sight better than the alternatives, which would be a race to the bottom, and probably even fewer options outside of the big markets. CBC, to a lesser extant than the BBC, but still some, holds up some standards in Canadian television. It supports television that might not otherwise get a chance - they made The Newsroom (like The Office, only sharper), Twitch City (the show that got my uncle to stop boycotting tv) and North of 60 - frickin' hell, I'll even thank them for supporting Kevin Sullivan's Anne of Green Gables, though I'm still bitter about that whole Road show.

Actually, I tend to find CBC radio to be better than the television, but they are difficult to compare.

Sorry, Space Coyote, to continue, but I don't think it's that much of a derail. We're discussing media here, and the place of susidized media is a big issue for many countries. Though if we go on correlation alone, I'd say that the presence of subsidized media in Canada is doing some good for our news media, as I find it to be of higher quality than American newsmedia, just based on the broadcast channels in each country. American newsmedia is often just so fluffy - my friend summarised it up as having every other story on "Things in your house that can KILL you" - he's a conservative who was most often listening to NPR, saying that was the only solid news he could find.

fff - I think there might be more to the attitudes of reporters than just that the American ones are currying favour - Canadian news media are also not as bulldogish. Maybe it could have to do with different cultures of politeness (in my experience British people are more forthright about their opinions, contrary to popular stereotype, and less likely to worry about offending) - or perhaps different cultures of leadership? I've always felt like I wanted to keep Canada a monarchy less to keep the crown than to feel like we could all happily attack the Prime Minister while not saying anything against the head of state. It's a separation of executive and ceremonial duties that seems to work.
posted by jb at 9:41 PM on April 29, 2005


Large 690MB hi-res version is available for those with patience.

Bittorrent goodness here.

The more, the merrier.
posted by hipnerd at 11:05 PM on April 29, 2005


jb... wow. I've never watched a single one of those shows (okay, I did watch an episode of air farce, and watched a couple of 22 minutes, but couldn't stomach them). Though, those who know me know that isn't much of a surprise.

I suppose the bitterness and division between Canadians that support the CBC and those that don't is a Canadian media preference or dislike. Personally, I don't enjoy Canadian TV shows (or music, in general). Before I get jumped on -- It's just my personal preference, it doesn't make yours any less valid. Those that dislike Canadian TV are forced to play dark roles in society to get our fill of media, and one could say we're envious that *you* get to turn on the TV every day and like what you see.

Can you blame us when what we want to watch tends to be outlawed for no sensical reason (Big Example: FOX News)?

I'll up the ante: I'd donate $300 to the CBC immediately if they'd help make it legal for me to watch Penn and Teller's "Bullshit!" right now. It gets an emmy nomination, yet it doesn't get airtime in Canada, nevermind airtime on Canada's pre-paid TV network. Sigh. I'd link it, but it's banned (literally... try it for yourself Canadians).
posted by shepd at 12:32 AM on April 30, 2005


I'd link it, but it's banned (literally... try it for yourself Canadians).

"We at Showtime Online express our apologies; however, these pages are intended for access only from within the United States"

Wow--the arm of the Canadian Ministry of Truth is longer than I realised! Imagine being able to force a US company to put up a notice like that...

I rather doubt that the site was "banned" in the sense you're implying. It's more likely that Showtime doesn't want people who can't be customers (e.g. Canadians) using up its bandwidth, and so re-directs anyone from a Canuck ISP to that page. Either that or it hasn't secured broadcast rights outside the US.

(By the way, Canadians desperate to access these sorts of "American eyes only" sites can normally use a US-based anonymous proxy service--many of which offer limited free use--to see what you're missing. I just used www.the-cloak.com to watch a couple of Bullshit! previews.)
posted by senor biggles at 3:19 AM on April 30, 2005


jb... wow. I've never watched a single one of those shows (okay, I did watch an episode of air farce, and watched a couple of 22 minutes, but couldn't stomach them). Though, those who know me know that isn't much of a surprise.

I agree with shepd here. I can't stand our little variety shows. They pander to the lcd, while recycling 10 year old material from the states! Alful, terrible stuff.
posted by jikel_morten at 7:20 AM on April 30, 2005


Arrrrrgh. THIS was the documentary that first got me paying attention to Couter... and FOX. I don't know whether to be grateful or further outraged. I couldn't sleep after I saw it.

But I will put in a positive spin and note that CBC's "The Passionate Eye" is also very worth watching. It's an award-winning documentary a day, and a fair amount on this and other topics. For example, I recently caught a fantastic 3-part British-made doc on the hype surrounding (if not manufacturing) "the terrorist threat" and hadn't realized that Rumsfeld was pulling the same routine in the 1970's...

That was "The Power of Nightmares".
posted by dreamsign at 9:34 AM on April 30, 2005


Our variety shows pander to the lowest common denominator? Then why is Canadian sketch comedy widely considered so much better than most American? If our stuff is 10 years old, then why did Lorne Michaels go to the States to try to teach the Saturday Night Live people what he'd learned with Kids in the Hall (which subsequently became an American movie). It's fine that you don't like it, but maybe you should think about whether it's the quality or just what you happen to like or not. I don't like mysteries at all, but I don't slag off the BBC for making so many.

I'll certainly agree that Air Farce is getting increasingly purile, and maybe 22 minutes has gone down lately (My two favorite actors left, and I'm not a Colin Mocherie fan). But bein a Crown Corporation has allowed CBC to experiment, to get behind things like Twitch City, which was critically acclaimed, but wouldn't play well with the Everyone Loves Raymond crowd.

I don't want my kids growing up in a world where everyone they see on tv lives in California - I was a world in which Toronto can be Toronto, and not every American city but. They should understand their own culture; they should know Canadians don't have Miranda rights, no matter how many episodes of Law and Order get broadcast.

But there isn't a set definition of "Canadian TV" - any more than there is a set definition of Canadian music. How is Maestro Fresh Wes anything like the Bare Naked Ladies? But they are both from Toronto. Canadian content laws exist to give Canadian artists a chance to make it within Canada, without the backing of the huge audiences to the south - it works really well in music - so many people down here in the States have heard of good Canadian bands, they had no idea they were Canadian. They were just good - but they would never have gotten to the point where they could breakthrough if our market at home was completely saturated with American music. Look at our English television industry - most of the Canadian content is taken up by news and informational shows, so we have a tiny trickle of production, which does tend to have a high concentration of art house stuff. Maybe if we had more production, it would be more to your taste. The Quebequois industry does great, because they don't have the competition.

Culture isn't something to be left to the market - it's too important for that. And the majority of Canadians keep electing governments that support the CBC (and the NFB and CanCon laws, and the CRTC), so they clearly agree.

As for whether the CRTC should ban Fox - well, if Fox can't keep up to the Canadian standards of broadcast journalism, then damn straight it should be banned. Moreover, we already have several 24 hour news channels - ones which actually tell Canadian news that's accurate, and know whether we sent troops to Vietnam or not. Why do we want more? Should the CRTC allow any old kook with a camera and an agenda make news? Why not just let Rupert Murdoch be allowed to run the government directly, and skip the middle man? Maybe the US should get some broadcast news standards, and they would stop calling each other names in political debate. (There, NOW we are back on topic).
posted by jb at 10:43 AM on April 30, 2005


shepd: you seem to be operating under the mistaken assumption that you pay in taxes has some 1:1 correlation to what YOU get in services.
A friend of mine often complains about having to pay for Employment Insurance because he's never used it, and claims he never will (he's stubborn, i believe him on this point). HOWEVER the fact that he pays into it and never draws from it is a benefit to society as a whole. Some people don't earn enough when they are working to contribute the actual cost of their "withdrawals" when become unemployed. But that's the cost of the social safety net, and I for one am glad it's there for people who need it.
Ditto for car drivers who complain about subsidizing the TTC (Toronto Transit Commision, for those outside Canada) with their tax dollars even though they never use the system: how unhappy would they be if there were no TTC and they had to face the massive spike in highway and street traffic that resulted? the pittance taken from their taxes to support public transit starts to look like a really good investment, doesn't it?
Flipside: until a year ago I'd never owned an automobile (I'm 36), but I'm damned glad that the highways and streets are kept in some semblence of good shape using my tax dollars: good roads can help keep shipping costs down, and therefore my goods at the register don't cost as much as they would in a country without good roadways. Also, good roads mean that people can live in an area they can afford and commute to work in the denser urban areas. Areas like downtown Toronto where the government of Ontario operates many of it's offices. keeping those offices closer together can cut down on other costs...
Do you see how it's all inter-related?
I don't understand the CRTC's keeping FOX off of our cable nets either, but it's obviously such a bug in your ear because your business is founded on giving people access to crap like that, so I understand your frustration. Please keep some perspective, however...

[and I recognize just about everything i said is ripe for a snark. please excercise some judgement if you feel that coming on. :) ]
posted by Al_Truist at 5:00 PM on April 30, 2005


Lo-res direct link from the CBC's site: 130 MB .mov goodness
posted by Monochrome at 5:56 PM on April 30, 2005


Our variety shows pander to the lowest common denominator? Then why is Canadian sketch comedy widely considered so much better than most American?

I didn't know it was! I know we produce tons of great comics, but I don't see Canada producing the same level of comedic entertainment as we do entertainers. Kids in the Hall is an exception, along with a few others. Kids was pretty edgy, for sure. I was originally focusing solely on the CBC's comedies though, not the Canadian industry on the whole.

If our stuff is 10 years old, then why did Lorne Michaels go to the States to try to teach the Saturday Night Live people what he'd learned with Kids in the Hall (which subsequently became an American movie).

Actually Lorne has been in the states since he created SNL in 1975.

It's fine that you don't like it, but maybe you should think about whether it's the quality or just what you happen to like or not. I don't like mysteries at all, but I don't slag off the BBC for making so many.

It's definitely the quality. To see a program that one doesn't have a taste for is different than seeing a program with sub par material. I don't dislike it because it is Canadian, I dislike it because it's poorly written.
posted by jikel_morten at 6:11 PM on April 30, 2005


jikel - I'm trying to think about what comedies you are referring to, other than Air Farce (which I've already said I think is not very good, though it does remain popular). As far as I've seen the CBC tends to support edgier comedy than most American networks. You might not like deadpan comedy like "Made in Canada", "the Newsroom" or "Twitch city", but it's not copying the US at all (much more British influenced) - most Americans don't understand deadpan comedy. American comedic television is dominated by the sitcom - I can't think of any Canadian sitcoms right now. You could say our television has lower production values, and certainly we hold the patent on cheesy action and sci-fi (Kung Fu anyone?), but the few comedy shows that get made are actually quite good.

Of course we're going to produce more performers than we do actual productions - it's a much larger market in the States. Of course, many of those "American" productions are being written, acted, directed, and teched at least partly by Canadians in Canada. The difference is that they still reflect American society, American values, not Canadian ones.
posted by jb at 9:41 AM on May 1, 2005


shepd: you seem to be operating under the mistaken assumption that you pay in taxes has some 1:1 correlation to what YOU get in services.

I had a whole lot of babble to write until I realized what it boils down to:

Making the CBC a Crown Corporation; funding it with the intent of creating a station that mostly shows Canadian-only content; banning paying for foreign TV service alternatives; and banning transmission of all-foreign TV services from Canada (seriously! Ask the CRTC for yourself!) smacks of the worst kind of fascist ethnocentrism that we in Canada had hoped was limited to only the worst dictatorships in the world.

Anyone from outside of Canada (apart from, possibly, the USA) attempting to participate in their culture through television will quickly find Canada's ethnocentric television stifling and, from my personal experience, will quickly break any laws in their way in an attempt to enjoy the multiculturalism they were told they had a right to enjoy in this country.

Paying for this "privilege" is just a big smack in the face we don't deserve.

Canada, J'accuse!
posted by shepd at 9:01 PM on May 1, 2005


shepd: i don't see how your six paragraphs have anything to do with the point made in my comment, which you quoted.

further: I don't see a terrible dearth of American product available to our viewing public. FOX news might not be available, but people can certainly watch "The Simpsons" and any of the lesser shows that FOX distibutes.
The CBC then becomes a haven against the overwhelming amount of product that CanWest/Global and BellGlobeMedia want to sling at us 'coz we asked for it.'
In light of the fact that plenty of American (and British, etc.) product makes it onto our airwaves, your claims of fascist ethnocentricism are overblown.

like i said: i'm sympathetic to your company being unable to profit off the distribution of FOX News for no seemingly good reason from the CRTC.
posted by Al_Truist at 4:34 AM on May 2, 2005


shepd: i don't see how your six paragraphs have anything to do with the point made in my comment, which you quoted.

I suppose that's to be expected... :-)

I'm not arguing that I expect my tax money to fund only things I use (at least not in THIS instance) -- I am arguing that it should NOT be funding this type of ethnocentric/fascist activity.

In light of the fact that plenty of American (and British, etc.) product makes it onto our airwaves, your claims of fascist ethnocentricism are overblown.

Al_Truist, it didn't get much media coverage, but just lately someone had their acquttial of the crime of watching (seriously) Italian Television (tough to find, but check the court decision documents, they're floating around) overturned and gets to pay fines and have a criminal record for this. It turns out that it is NOT a charter defence to say that freedom of speech in other languages is protected by Canadian law, sadly.

I also know of religious networks that have moved to the USA because Canada refused to let them broadcast (religions are worldwide, Canada is only 0.6% of world population, hence it is impossible to live up to each country demanding 25% - 35% local content on a world-wide broadcast station).

If that's not fascist ethnocentrism, I'd like to know what is. How many people have to be denied their right to participate in their culture before it becomes fascist? Can you really put a number on freedom?

This is the sort of day in and day out thing people in my industry have learned to expect from the government's role in television. As it stands, the government has so convinced the people in this country that all foreign TV service is illegal (not just pay TV) that I cannot advertise my legal service (my receivers can't pick up pay TV) in the local paper -- they're too scared they'll get raided by the RCMP. Hell, I'm working on my legal skills as it stands because I *know* I'll end up getting raided. I've already been stopped at the border once! ARGH! Oh well. Your tax dollars at work.
posted by shepd at 10:12 AM on May 2, 2005


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