FEBRUARY 24, 1972
The Right to See Everything . . .Including Ourselves
AN ADDRESS BY Mr. Pierre Juneau,
CHAIRMAN, CANADIAN RADIO-TELEVISION COMMISSION
CHAIRMAN The Second Vice-President,
H. Allan Leal, Q.C., LL.D.
We are constantly being reminded that the life line of the global village is an adequate communications policy and system. Conversely, I suppose, an inadequate system might sound its death knell. We know now that such things as broad band or multiple channel cable communication systems are rich and vital national resources. They can be developed and utilized, subject to legitimate controls, to enhance the quality of our lives, or be exploited and squandered to our great detriment.
Our speaker today, Mr. Pierre Juneau, as Chairman of the Canadian Radio-Television Commission, is a central figure in the decision making and administrative processes which will determine for us whether it is to be the one or the other.
Those of you who, like our guest, have been reared in the classical tradition, will recall the rather rough passage of the hero of Virgil's Aeneid who, in transaltion, was said to have been "buffeted about much both by the violence of the gods and the unrelenting anger of cruel Juno!" There may be those whose passage before the CRTC has been equally stormy. A too avid pursuit of analogy is always dangerous and never more so than with respect to the temples of the deity, but of our guest it may be said--present company excepted--that he hath put down the mighty from their seats and the rich he hath sent empty away.
On a recent occasion I was in the lobby of an Ottawa hotel at 5.30 a.m., on my way to catch the first morning flight, when I was set upon by a friendly Texan who, apparently, had not fared too well before the Commission on the previous day and was anxious to talk about it. Two things he said which impressed me even at that early hour: the first was that "it sure don't take long to stay overnight in this town", and secondly, "Man, this fellow Juneau don't give much away". I liked what he said on both counts.
Mr. Juneau was born in Montreal, educated there and in Paris and is on the right side of 50. His association with the National Film Board of Canada dates from 1949, on which he served variously as Representative from Montreal; Assistant Director for the Province of Quebec; Director of International Distribution; Assistant Director of the European Office, London, England; Secretary to the Board and Assistant to the Commissioner; Executive Director; and from 1964 to 1966 Senior Assistant to the Commissioner and Director of French language production.
He was appointed Vice-Chairman of the Board of Broadcast Governors in 1966 and Chairman of the Canadian-Radio-Television Commission on April 1, 1968, a position he now holds and serves with great distinction.
We welcome him to the Empire Club today and I invite him now to address us on the topic "The Right to See Everything . . . Including Ourselves!"
MR. PIERRE JUNEAU:
Canada receives more entertainment, information and educational products from other countries than any other nation in the world.
It is normal that Canadians should enjoy the largest possible choice of information and entertainment. The role of the CRTC, within the terms of the law, is to make sure that this choice is as wide, as varied, as comprehensive, as representative as possible.
The objective should be to broaden the choice, not to reduce it. To add to the variety of sources. To fill in the gaps in the spectrum. To increase relevance and gradually to increase the level of excellence.
Let us have a look at some of the material that is now available, starting with magazines.
For the purpose of this talk, I had thought of making a collection of all the magazines available on Canadian news stands and then comparing here today the stack of Canadian magazines with the stack of foreign magazines. I dropped the idea because it was too much work and also I realized that it might be embarrassing for the Chairman of the CRTC to be found in possession of some of the stuff. So, I resorted to statistics: they're dull . . . but they're clean.
If you use the figures of the Audit Bureau of Circulation or the figures for which there are sworn circulation statements, you get the following results: Canadian magazines available in English or French, 51. American magazines, 375. To this number, you can add at least 25 British and French magazines which gives you a conservative total of 400 for foreign periodicals.
An inquiry into the motion picture situation does not require a great deal of work or money. You just pick up the local newspaper. Here are two pages of the Toronto Star for Saturday, February 12. They advertise something like 80 American and European films and two Canadian films: Mon Oncle Antoine and Rip-off.
Now television. This, also, is quite easy. Anybody can do it. No need to be a statistician or a sociologist. Again, pick up a TV schedule; there are excellent publications For instance Toronto Week: its schedule lists 8 American television stations. If you take into account only the Buffalo stations and the four Toronto-Hamilton stations, you end up with approximate figures of 78%o available U.S. programs as against 22% for Canadian programs.
These are, of course, very rough figures which apply only to Toronto. They are not audience figures. They only indicate what is available.
What about motion pictures on television? Well, for the week of February 12, 1972, Toronto Week listed 138 feature films on television including 23 on Saturday the 12th and 24 on Friday the 18th, not one of them Canadian.
Whether you consider this a favorable or an unfavorable situation, one thing is sure: no other country in the world is in a comparable situation. Not the United Kingdom, not France, not Germany, not Japan, not the United States.
We have all heard about direct broadcasting by satellites. With all the talk about television programs eventually being available from one country to another by this method, countries are having a lot of discussions as to what things would be like when direct broadcast satellites start operating. My answer is simple: it would be close to the present situation in Canada. As a matter of fact, it would take some time before things, in other countries, reached the point where they are now in Toronto, Vancouver, Hamilton, London, Windsor or anywhere in Canada where there is cable television, like Montreal, Victoria, Winnipeg or Quebec City.
Why emphasize these facts? Not to provoke a negative reaction. Simply to make the situation clear. These are the facts. This country, I think, is by far the most interesting mass-communication laboratory in the world.
We are a modern, industrialized country. Not an underdeveloped, rural country. An enormously large country and thus difficult and costly to cover with transmitters. We are committed to providing services in two languages. We have Government supported FM, AM and TV networks. In radio and television, we have a vast private sector. The most aggressive and fastest developing private cable television industry in the world. Finally, in terms of broadcasting, entertainment and information, we are next to the most powerful and richest nation in the world. Programs from four American networks pour into Canada directly or are picked up by community antennas.
Anyone thinking that this country, as a whole, runs the slightest risk of lacking a fair choice of American entertainment or information material, must have some trouble which perhaps a psychiatrist could identity.
There has been a lot of talk since the last war, particularly in UNESCO circles, about the free flow of information. Whether we like it or not--and let's face it, this situation is not all a matter of choice--we have, in Canada, a communication system which, in fact, is freer than any other in the world--including the United States.
If you look at the facts, you find that the only voices that may be victims of censorship are the voices of Canadians.
Not censorship by any state institution, which is the form of censorship that usually comes to mind, but censorship caused by the nature of technology itself, censorship by mass marketing philosophies, censorship by multinational industrial planning, censorship by the rigidity of scheduling.
Was the battle against censorship in the history of democracy waged to protect world market strategies?
Was it fought so that in the field of ideas, the lowest common denominator could dictate to the rest of the population? No. The struggle against censorship was fought so that all views could be heard. Not only the views that coincided with what the largest consumer group might buy.
It was a battle of the weak against the strong to ensure that minority voices could make themselves heard in order to defend their own interests or to defend views which they thought useful for the common good.
Canadian voices, Canadian talents today are, of course, a minority in North America. They can only be a minority, in the world. Can Canadians accept to be a minority voice in their own country? In the circumstances that we have described, is not the demand for freer Canadian expression part of a much older and more profound struggle?
What is to be done about this?
Allow me to reiterate that the CRTC is not a private organization pursuing its own objectives, nor is it an instrument of the Government of the day. It was created in 1968 by an Act of Parliament which was supported by all the parties in the House.
This Act declares that:
- the Canadian broadcasting system should be effectively owned and controlled by Canadians so as to safeguard, enrich and strengthen the cultural, political, social and economic fabric of Canada;
- the programming provided by the Canadian broadcasting system should be varied and comprehensive and should provide reasonable, balanced opportunity for the expression of differing views on matters of public concern, and the programming provided by each broadcaster should be of high standard, using predominantly Canadian creative and other resources;
- the national broadcasting service should contribute to the development of national unity and provide for a continuing expression of Canadian identity.
It is with enthusiasm and pride that the fifteen members of the Commission have accepted this mandate from Parliament and are trying to implement it.
They have a strong conviction that they form part of a long Canadian tradition historically adhered to by every political formation in the country. In this respect, it is interesting to recall that the CBC was created under a Conservative Government; the National Film Board under a Liberal Government; the BBG under a Conservative Government; the Royal Commision on Publications under a Conservative Government and finally, the CRTC under a Liberal Government and that by an almost unanimous vote of the House, including New Democratic Party, Social Credit, Progressive-Conservative and Liberal members.
This strong conviction about the need for Canadians to be heard in their own country has been expressed as follows throughout the years: "There has, however, been unanimity on one fundamental question--Canadian radio listeners want Canadian broadcasting."
Rt. Hon. R. B. Bennett
Feb. 16, 1932
"Canadians have the right to a system of broadcasting from Canadian sources equal in all respects to that of any other country."
1950 Parliamentary Committee
"May your Committee point out that ever since 1928, every parliament, every political party, every parliamentary committee inquiring into the question has been in favour of a system similar to the one we now have."
O'Leary Report, 1961
Report of the Royal Comission on Publications
"In this role, communications are the thread which binds together the fibers of a nation. They can protect a nation's values and encourage their practice. They can make democratic government possible and better government probable. They can soften sectional asperities and bring honorable compromises. They can inform and educate in the arts, the sciences and commerce. They can help market a nation's products and promote its material wealth. In these functions it may be claimed--claimed without much challenge that the communications of a nation are as vital to its life as its defences, and should receive at least as great a measure of national protection."
We know that in every city and nation there is of necessity a sharing of values, a mingling of interests, aspirations and feelings; ultimately common forms of expression. This is neither an idle hope nor wishful thinking. It is a statement of fact borne out in Canada as in Mexico, and in London, Paris or Tokyo.
Broadcasting remains one of our most powerful tools to express a national commonality. The Grey Cup and the NHL playoffs appear almost as regular national festivals shared through broadcasting.
Such national electronic spectacles, as the Miss Canada Pageant, may not be everyone's idea of a vital expression of national identity, but they are universal symbols linking Canadians together and transcending regional differences. Canadian unity is well served both by the unanimous aspects of popular celebrations and by more complex programming. Many of you will remember the remarkable Canadian output of the golden age of CBC radio drama. A tremendous virility and variety of writers from many parts of the country grew into national prominence through such programs as the CBC "Stage" series. The other day, W. O. Mitchell of "Jake and the Kid" fame, reminisced about their work:
"The fact is that the producers used writers who in fact prospected themselves and their own lives. They did not deliberately want to say, 'Hey, I'm a Prairie boy; hey, I'm a Maritimer, I must write about these people'. Instead whatever floated up, that's what formed their illusion. Because of that approach the things that were being done lived in the world of the individual and of the unique. The reason was not because of any policy of saying 'we must have Canadian stuff', but because the people the producers invited to create their dramatic illusions were in a Canadian context."
This necessity to represent faithfully our own experience before trying to conquer external markets is confirmed by the recent success of Robert Charlebois in Paris, the growing popularity of Anne Murray or the Lighthouse or the Crowbar of the Guess Who in the United States.
"L'Acadie, L'Acadie" the film by Pierre Perrault recently shown on both the French and English networks of the CBC showed that works coming out of the experience of a region could help us understand each other better. It dealt with the problem of francophone minorities in New Brunswick--a subject already richly treated by mobs of talking heads and hundreds of inches of newspaper column space. The opening sequence of the film "L'Acadie, L'Acadie" added one vital dimension--understanding . . . understanding of the useless suffering and wasted energy brought about by this type of imbalance.
The humour and poetry of many television commercials remind us of the essential role of the imagination in our lives as consumers. In the shaping of our national lives, the role of imagination must likewise be recognized.
It is true that today, whatever the latitude, the lands of our world tend to resemble one another like the great halls of airports. But we should work to build our own home, our own atmosphere according to our tastes and habits around the standardized industrial products that adorn every North American house. This redecorating, if you like, of our own milieu should provide us with some valid, maybe encouraging reasons to live here, and even to invent things here that may not be found elsewhere.
As long as we stay in our home and decide not to sell it off bit by bit, then the voices and images down through time which make it up are indispensable to our comfort and balance and ease of movement.
There are many reasons for us to create images and sounds which no one else can create for us, for us to give particular attention, and devote very special efforts to Canadian artistic productions.
These are very normal objectives, also expressed by all other countries. In view of the circumstances, they are also difficult objectives to attain.
Traditionally, the solution adopted in Canada to meet these objectives has been to create crown corporations. Thus, we have had the CBC, the NFB, the Canada Council, the Arts Center in Ottawa, the Museums, the Archives, the National Gallery, etc., etc. There was no question that such institutions were indispensable. They are still just as indispensable, if not more.
However, it has been gradually recognized that Canadian expression could not all be channelled through such agencies. Thus, in the early sixties, room had to be made for private television stations so that Canadians could enjoy more than one Canadian television service. Later, the Canathan Film Development Corporation was created so that private film companies could be encouraged to produce Canadian feature films and help in the development of a Canadian feature film industry. More recently, the Secretary of State announced various forms of encouragements to book publishers.
Here in Ontario, the principle of government aid to book publishing is being examined following the submission of the report of the Royal Commission on Book-publishing to the Ontario government. Some action had already been taken: the granting of a 10 year loan to McClelland and Stewart Limited of $961,000.
Such initiatives recognize that the problems in meeting national cultural objectives gradually became too complex to be solved by state supported institutions alone. Private enterprise had to be actively encouraged.
These initiatives are also a recognition that private enterprise has a broader and more fundamental meaning than that normally associated with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, for instance. Basically, private enterprise means: spontaneity, innovation, creativity, risk, daring, imagination, independence, starting something, not waiting for anyone else, perseverance in the face of obstacles. These are qualities that belong to people, not to institutions or to particular sectors of the economy. They can even be found in government! Private industry expects them of their personnel, and wishes they were uniformly present.
They are present in the man who develops a small radio station or a record store into a large, successful business enterprise and also in the man or woman who sits alone and decides to write a book or a song or make a film or produce a play which nobody else believes in . . . and does it.
While the virtues of private enterprise are not a monopoly of business, creativity and imagination are not confined to the field of art and culture. You must find them and you do find them in the financial analyst, the investor, the music publisher, the program director, the managers of all types.
More and more business leaders today are talking about the social responsibility of business. Almost every issue of the most important business publications contains an article on this subject.
While it's interesting to follow how the thinking of the leaders of North American business is currently developing, I'm sure there isn't anything new in these views for Canadian broadcasters. They all hold a licence under the Broadcasting Act which, one has to assume, they have sought in order to fulfill a social responsibility. Indeed, the Broadcasting Act says that radio frequencies are public property.
In order to obtain a licence, they usually have made considerable efforts to demonstrate how much better than their competitors they would fulfill their social obligations.
According to the new business philosophy, business is invited to get involved in solving public problems. We have a real public problem in Canadian communications. It is the problem of production. The Commission thinks business should be highly involved in solving this problem. Some of my colleagues and myself have had frank and encouraging discussions in the last few months with some of the leaders of the broadcasting industry. It seems to me that there are enough capable people in the Canadian broadcasting industry that the problem of producing programs should be solved; that broadcasting should be a leading industry and that it should be an inspiration to the rest of the country. Is this not what communication is all about?
If I may be allowed paradoxically to quote Jerry Rubin within these walls and in this context: why don't we "DO IT"!
The Broadcasting Act came into force in April 1968. Right at that time, the consensus was expressed by Parliament that broadcasting programs should be predominantly Canadian. In February 1970, the CRTC announces its program policy proposals. These proposals then became regulations. Thus, in the Fall of 1972, four and a half years after the passing of the Broadcasting Act and two and half years after the CRTC policy announcement, Canadian programs will have to predominate on Canadian stations to the extent of 60%.
Since 1968, and even after the publication of these regulations, no broadcaster has returned his licence to the Commission. Shares of broadcasting and cable companies are doing extremely well on the stock market. And here are a couple of quotations from financial analyses published by some Canadian underwriters:
"The year 1971 was a very successful one for communications equities as the TSE Communications Index rose by 35.3%, compared to a 4.1% gain for the TSE Industrials. While it would be unreasonable to expect gains of this magnitude in 1972, the fundamentals of the industry are sound and we expect the group to perform well."
Wood Gundy, January 1972
"The CRTC has modified and clarified a number of its regulations for television in 1971." . . . "We think that the regulatory climate for television is more positive today than at any time in recent years. In view of this, we expect that investors will take a greater interest in the stocks of the publicly-owned TV broadcasters . . ." Burns Brothers and Denton Limited The Blue Book, Autumn Forecast, 1971
Recently, the price agreed upon for a broadcasting operation belonging to the CTV Network involved an element of good will of $6.7 million dollars or approximately 40 % of the total purchase price for the non-current assets of the company which was $16.7 million dollars.
This is business and I am not, now, expressing any criticism. But we all know that such prices are possible because of the high market value of the business that is being sold.
The conclusion can only be that we are all fortunate to have broadcasting stations that have such good market value and we should get on with the job we have to do for the public of Canada.
We have no lack of tools for program production in Canada. Substantial investments have enabled us to establish a considerable system of cultural processing and circulation which we must refuse to consider as a transit system for foreign works.
In this country, which is constantly being shown and described to us, we are daily discovering unknown aspects and resources.
The quality of local programming on television in certain areas has progressed remarkably and deserves to see its audience grow.
Examples of successful local productions are close at hand. CFTO's Worldbeat, a nightly mix of international, national and regional news in a highly professional format, reaches an average weekday Toronto audience of 331,000, more than Mannix and Marcus Welby later in the evenings on the same channel.
On the West Coast, the local CBC early evening news and information package Hourglass achieves a similar success in one of the most saturated television markets in Canada. Again, it is watched by more people than such perennial prime time heavies as Marcus Welby and the FBI.
Wildlife and nature programs, growing out of a feeling for the unspoiled wilderness of neighbouring regions, are remarkably successful in both Vancouver and Calgary. CFCN Calgary's Outdoors Unlimited ranked 15th overall in the November rating period--out-drawing even Hockey Night in Canada. CBC Vancouver's Klahanie is watched by an average of 119,000 people, more than watch O'Hara U.S. Treasury or Front Page Challenge on the same channel.
These are local efforts, growing out of local experiences and the taste and imagination of the region.
It is impossible to doubt our capacity to produce prototypes for international programming. For example in the much acclaimed Sesame Street, one finds faithful duplications of models produced in the Canadian school of film animation by such pioneers as Norman McLaren, George Dunning and Dick Williams, whether it be the animated letters, dots or doodles of Five for Four or Rythmetic, colours in movement as in Fiddle Dee Dee, textures silhouettes of The Flying Man or the phlegmatic figures of The Wardrobe.
Sesame Street's famous Muppets should by now be honorary Canadian citizens. They are now doing their third television special at Robert Lawrence Productions here the initiative is all Canadian and it has paid off. The first special, "Hey Cinderella", as well as making Canadian and American network sales, has been successfully marketed in Europe and Australia. "The Frog Prince," the second special, was the first Canadian production to achieve an American network sale sight unseen. The Robert Lawrence Company are veterans in breaking into the tough American network market. Back in 1965, CBS bought their daytime series "Moment of Truth".
Ontario recently concluded the biggest single export deal in Canadian television history with the sale of the rights of 4,000 OECA productions to the NBC network for a sum which, in a few years, could equal the total cost of producing the programs. "The best ETV library in the world" said an NBC spokesman. It was a pleasant surprise--except for those following the production of educational films at the National Film Board or the Office du Film du Quebec who already knew the value and quality of Canadian educational production.
At the same time, the CBC French television series "Quelle Famille", sold to a community of five French-speaking European nations, and is now enjoying unexpected success on French television. Some commentators have criticized this sale of portraits they feel to mirror a little too awkwardly everyday Quebec life, and are embarrassed by its success. Something must have changed in our systems of production and diffusion if it is now our successes which form the object of our own criticism and not the incapacity of our creative groups to express themselves and to become recognized abroad.
What about the audience for Canadian programming. It's generally assumed that there are only a few faithful patriots watching our Canadian network shows. Well, a million or more Canadians is a pretty substantial congregation . . . and according to the November ratings from the bureau of Broadcast measurement, the following Canadian programs had an audience of a million or more:
The Miss Canada Pageant
Hockey Night in Canada
The Anne Murray Special "Anne Again"
Front Page Challenge
Canadian Football League Games
Sunday at Nine
The Tommy Hunter Show
Pig and Whistle
Rollin' on the River
National News on CBC
Here Come the '70's
It simply is not true that nobody watches Canadian programs. These are pretty respectable minorities.
By now too, the myth that nobody listens to or buys Canadian records should be well laid to rest. The Financial Post leads off a February 19th full page story on the Canadian music industry with "Credit the CRTC with propelling an infant Canadian industry into early maturity". As I said earlier, the Commission only put into effect the 1968 Broadcasting Act's principles of increasing Canadian broadcasting programming. Now, Canadian records get more air play on Canadian radio stations. The result: and again I quote
". . . royalties paid to Canadians increased from $363,000 in 1968 to $870,000.
"Columbia Records of Canada reports it has tripled its Canadian artists and repertoire budget in the past two years. Capitol Records (Canada) Ltd. says Canadian records now account for 15% of total sales versus 3 % in 1967-68. "
Two years ago, there was only one 16 track recording studio in the country. Now there are five 16 track and one 24 track studios in Toronto, one 32 track studio in Montreal, and other facilities from Halifax to Vancouver.
Other statistics indicate that the number of records released by "wholly owned Canadian companies" increased 57% in 1970-71.
Nobody has turned in their radio station licences with stricter Canadian content regulations. In fact, CKLW in Windsor has seen its ratings go up 20% in the very year in which the new regulations came into effect.
Radio, far from being the ugly sister in the broadcasting family, may yet be its Cinderella. It's often forgotten that Television long ago took over radio's situation comedies, standup comics and weekly musicals. Radio is now a vital nonfiction medium and it lives and flowers for an ever better informed public. It has had a major role in actually changing our acoustic environment. There are indeed new "sounds" in the air--and for me the most hopeful development is that many of these "sounds" are Canadian. A recent "Cashbox" gives a glowing review of the Carnegie Hall performance of the Toronto based group "Lighthouse". It points out that after two years, two Canadian albums and a hit single:
"Skip Prokop's 11 piece big band faced a full house of fans, clapping in time and shouting for their favourite songs."
I hope that through this evidence, you can see that possibilities are opening up for Canadian expression in sounds and in image hardly considered only a decade ago. But, make no mistake, this early flowering of a new industrial sector must be carefully nurtured and protected.
If our mental landscapes, our creative aptitudes are not safeguarded and promoted I am afraid, the same fate awaits us as that which befalls a new TV show that doesn't get enough rating points, and suffers a premature exit. Except that in this case, we will, in fact, cancel ourselves. Because to obliterate real works of the Canadian imagination is to obliterate ourselves.
To preserve and develop our ability to create and produce our own imagery is something we simply cannot do without. To enable ourselves to see everything, including ourselves, through our own eyes and our own systems of production and diffusion, will require a long and persevering effort. We can't achieve in one season what the New York and West Coast television industry has in two decades, or what American and European cinema have taken almost 100 years to produce. We must not expect every work to be a masterpiece.
Fortunately, to judge by our recent results, we can affirm that the work is already well under way. The most important thing now is to realise it.
Mr. Juneau was thanked on behalf of the Empire Club of Canada by Mr. Peter W. Hunter, C.D.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Since the formation of the CRTC in 1968, no industry in Canada has been the subject of as much Government control and supervision as the television, radio and cable-television industries by the Canadian Radio Television Commission.
At the time of Mr. Juneau's Address, the CRTC had been successful (December 7, 1971) in reducing foreign investment in Canadian broadcasting from $150-million to only $25-million and dramatically increasing the Canadian content of Canadian television to over 60%. Similarly the CRTC has required that at least 30% of the music broadcast by the country's 400 AM radio stations, be Canadian.
The radio-television industry is the first and to date the only industry in Canada where the government has, as a matter of policy, insisted that control, previously held by non-residents, should be repatriated to Canadian ownership.