Sunday, June 29, 2008

Shaw cable undermines homegrown talent while printing money

Check out this link:

Shaw Cable, thanks to it's government-sanctioned monopoly to provide cable service, makes money hand over foot--and has successfully skewered Canadian writers by blackmailing the CRTC into dividing the CTF funding agency into two streams, cultural and commercial.

This bully of Canadian broadcasting decided that he didn't like some of the shows the CTF put money into--shows that Canadians actually watched--so he decided he wouldn't pass on the percentage of subscribers' money he was obliged to pay into the fund. (By the way, he may think it's his money, but it isn't. It's like keeping GST you collect because you don't want to support a government program. It's not your money to keep.) But Shaw doesn't understand this, and really, why should they? It takes someone with basic integrity and honesty to understand it, so I guess that can't apply in this case.

Look, I'm pissed off at this operation. Writers and actors and directors have a right to try and make a living in their own country--just like cable TV owners. What good do cable TV operators do the world except take money from the public and put it in their pocket? At least, writers create something.

I've seen the kind of service Shaw offers their customers--and it's terrible, certainly compared to Rogers. Yet, they have the audacity to strong arm the weak CRTC into doing their bidding. It's a disgrace.

What this will mean is that producers must now figure out whether their production is cultural or commercial and hope they apply to the right fund. Which really means, is it low brow or high brow, I guess. And if they pick wrong, they don't get the money and the writer, as usual, is screwed. Or they pick right and the show gets slotted into some "cultural" ghetto, like an MP for the Conservative party, (of course) asked me when I made a presentation to the pre-budget hearings in Ottawa last year. She felt that Canadian content should have it's own home--a nice ghetto that people will know to bypass as they go up and down the dial, I guess. Cultural means no one will watch.

Yet, CTV and Global should not be let off the hook of providing Canadian content because they are given a license to broadcast on public airwaves. I guess the Conservatives don't see the contradiction in their position, but they have shown themselves to be hidebound idealogues since Harper made them Reform lite.

LIcense renewal is coming for the major TV operations. This will be a do or die action for TV writers in this country. If we are unable to get the CRTC to reverse their anti-creative, anti-drama, pro-business, pro-American style programming stance, (they will deny they did this, but this is the net effect of their rash decisions since 1999), and put it as a condition of license for CBC, CTV and Global to do Canadian drama, then we might as well pack up and move to L.A., or just pack up. (Of course, all of the L.A. loving wannabes who work for the networks think that anyone who actually stays in Canada is a talentless loser, so I guess that would actually help a few careers.)

Stay tuned. It's only going to get scarier.

No comments: