Canada’s artists (actors, writers, etc.) keep telling us that as a country we need more Canadian content across the media. If they had a say in the matter, they would tax Netflix and similar services out of existence.
That, of course, won’t help Canadian content much. Canadians would find workarounds to access those services regardless – because Netflix and others offer what they want to watch. And if Netflix somehow got locked out of Canada, the company would stop producing the enormous Canadian content it has been churning out so far (TV shows set or filmed in Canada, hiring tons and tons of Canadian talent, etc.).
In other words, Canadian content would be the biggest loser of such a Netflix tax.
But with the ubiquitous talk of protecting Canadian content, it is surprising to learn that Canada’s rich television heritage is being locked away, never to be seen again (and all on the taxpayers’ dime).
The CBC has spent a lot of tax dollars digitizing old Canadian TV shows, but has decided to keep them locked away in a vault instead of making them accessible to the public (who paid for those shows) via the CBC online platform and/or TV app.
If Canadian content (“telling our own stories”) is so important, why, then, does the public broadcaster hide it from the public?
The CBC claims that it has to do with copyrights. So many of the old shows from the 1980s, 1970s, etc. are owned by the original creators and/or producers, which is why the CBC doesn’t have the rights to broadcast or stream them.
To this I say, ridiculous. It was Canadian taxpayers who funded those shows decades ago, which means they must remain accessible in perpetuity.
Sure, the rights holders, or their heirs, can be paid some additional royalties, but Canadians paid for the shows and are therefore entitled to keep watching them (if they are so inclined).
When I watch British TV (particularly ITV 3 and ITV 4), I see a lot of old British shows from the 1960s or 1970s (The Sweeney, Minder, etc.). Apparently, the Brits don’t have any problems rebroadcasting their old shows to this very day.
I could even imagine that newcomers to Canada might be interested in watching The Beachcombers for the first time in their lives to find out what Canadians are on about when they reference the old show.
Television is a window into the soul of a country, and newcomers, in particular, could learn a lot about their new country if they sampled more of the old TV programs – how about some classic Wayne & Shuster?
The really odd part about the CBC’s explanation regarding old copyrights and such is the fact that a lot of the material in question can easily be found on YouTube – on an American website, where the original Canadian copyright holders won’t ever see a penny for their creations being shown.
Happy 150th, Canada!