Media, Information and Technoculture 2000F/G Chapter Notes -Canadian Identity, Graham Spry, Common Booster Core
DepartmentMedia, Information and Technoculture
Course CodeMIT 2000F/G
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This reading discusses how the Canadian Pacific Railway and the telegraph worked
together to ‘bind’ Canada. The Canadian Pacific Railway encouraged Canadians to think of
technology as being “constitutive of Canada” and a “manifestation of Canada’s ethos” (50).
Charland argues that Canada exists because of these technologies that bind space together. The
T.V Program “The National Dream” shows Canada as imagining itself into existence. Charland
argues that technological nationalism doesn’t tie a nation to its people but ties it to “their
mediation through technology” (50). He discusses the relationship of the “Canadian rhetoric of a
technological nation and the technology of Canadian state” (52). Canada is an absent nation that
succumbs to American influence. Rhetoric guides the applications of technology so it is
important in that way. Canada’s existence depends on transportation and communication. The
idea of Canada depends on the rhetoric of the technology. The invention of the telegraph and the
railroad overcame the distance boundary that Canada had. The railroad primarily enhanced trade
but also “created the possibility of a nation” by unifying provinces and giving Ottawa more
political power (53). The railroad was built so that the government could have spatial control
from Montreal to Vancouver. The radio sought to bind Canada with information like the railway
bound us economically (55). It offers community but also domination, and wanted to produce a
national Canadian identity. Charland argues that the national identity would be one of mediation
and communication (57). Canadian radio was used as a defense of American radio, which many
people had access to. But the radio could not be profitable if it was 100% Canadian. Even though
it had American programming, CBC’s purpose was to create a national consciousness. The
Americanization of Canada’s airwaves was inevitable considering how it was involved from the
beginning of the radio; this helped to create a norm that Canadians would later seek.
“Who Is To Pay For Broadcasting”
This reading discusses the rising cost of radio broadcasting. By 1932 it was a substantial
investment to set up a radio station. Stations were usually non-profit or set up by the radio
industry itself or newspapers. In the latter case the fees would be sent to advertising. Licensing
was implemented in Canada for a time where listeners would pay for the service. However the
money these people paid rarely went to their local station and private broadcasters were not
given subsidies. Advertising was then introduced; advertisers would pay for the use of the
communication equipment, and audience paid nothing. Advertising on the radio was not received
well. One said “advertising on radio [is] an unacceptable intrusion of the world of business into
the privacy… of the home” (201). But by 1932 people started to come around to the idea. The
reading goes into the rates different advertisers had to pay and how much airtime they would get.
These two factors greatly affected the impact of the advertisement on the public. Broadcasting
bureaus were set up which acted as brokers between the radio stations and the advertisers. In
1930 15% of Canadian programs were handled by agencies, which usually got 15% commission.
Urban areas had an advantage because of their access to skilled technicians and performers, so
radio stations were usually successful in urban areas. So, who pays for broadcasting?
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