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Sociology (2,049)
Lecture 8

Lecture Eight: Mass Media and Politics

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McMaster University
David Young

Mass Media and Politics: The State and Broadcasting in Canada September 30, 2013 – October 10, 2013 Conflict Over Public Broadcasting in Canada • Dallas Smythe was a very well-known Canadian communications scholar • He made an important point about this conflict over public broadcasting in Canada o Argued that from the period 1930-1936 was “a struggle between the popular forces in Canada struggling for public service broadcasting and those seeking private profit” – Smythe o Popular forces were organized around the Canadian Radio League (CRL) o CRL represented trained unions, naturalist groups, women’s organizations and other groups that wanted public radio broadcasting in Canada o CRL was in conflict with the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB)  Represented an existing private radio broadcasters o The State has to deal with the conflict o The State largely sided with the CRL, workers and their allies and agreed to their need for public broadcasting in Canada Broadcasting Legislation in Canada • There was a significant pressure from the working class for public broadcasting to be established by the State in this country • The State engaged in legitimation • Broadcasting legislation provides structural constraints on organizations • There was a shift o Initially public broadcasting organizations were dominant o Private broadcasting organizations eventually assumed the dominant position • 1932 Canadian Radio Broadcasting Act o First piece of broadcasting legislation o Response to the significant pressure (coming from the CRL) o Law created the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission (CRBC) – first public broadcaster  Responsible for undertaking broadcasting (setting up and operating public radio station in Canada)  Responsible for regulating broadcasting (set the rules for the private broadcasters)  The system would be nationalized – given the power over private radio stations o CRBC was a government commission, so it wasn’t a public corporation – the CRL had wanted a public corporation to offer public broadcasting  A public corporation would have certain amount of financial and political autonomy from the government  It would not be under the thumb of the government • The 1936 Canadian Broadcasting Act o This act got rid of the CRBC o CRBC did not work because it was government commission o Established the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) – would be a public corporation as indicated by its name  Responsible for undertaking broadcasting  Responsible for regulating broadcasting (set the rules for the private broadcasters)  Had the ability to take over private stations – nationalizing the system and making it entirely public, however CBC missed that opportunity o CBC would have political and financial autonomy from the government o Second Public broadcaster • The 1958 Broadcasting Act o The dominance of public broadcasting was apparent because the CBC and CRBC were able to control and regulate the private broadcasters o Private broadcasters were never happy that public broadcasters got to set the rules and regulations which they had to live by – so they fought against that o Private broadcasters pushed the state to change the situation o The Board of Broadcast Governors (BBG) was established – was to be an independent regulator  It stands outside the public and private broadcasters  Under the BBG, the CBC and the private broadcasters would be regulated  Since the CBC had lost its regulatory role, this marks the beginning of the shift of dominance between private and public broadcasters o The BBG contributed significantly to the shift – proceeded to license private networks in English and in French  Example: CTV was licensed by the BBG in 1961 o The Act did not set out very clear requirements for the system and the goals were not set out well
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