Timothy M. Denton

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CanCon and over the top

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Michael Hirsh, who is CEO of Wow! Unlimited TV, let the cat out of the bag in a recent article in Cartt

He praised the Internet, saying:

"there have never been better opportunities for Canadian made TV programming. For example, digital platforms are allowing producers to make content that viewers want to see, ungoverned by traditional Canadian content constructs, creating a more direct relationship with the viewer, with no broadcaster in between."


Three heresies in one sentence! The man will need a session with the Thought Police!

  • content that viewers want to see
  • ungoverned by Canadian content constructs
  • a direct relationship of the viewer to the programming, without passing through the licensed intermediary.

Forgive my aside. I am reminded of the Reformation, where "the Gospel" is substituted for "programming", and "the Church" is substituted for "the licensed intermediary". But back to the present...

Formerly "broadcast" programming joins the zillions of applications on the Internet, and the result, according to Michael Hirsh, is great.

“We’re dealing with unlimited shelf space. Why is there is a problem in exporting shows? Why is there is a problem in the marketplace? There is none. There’s only good news and only opportunities for expansion,” he argued.

He also sees subsidies for "television" - video entertainment - the same way I do, that they can exist independently of the framework of official broadcasting policy.

Hirsh said current funding mechanisms such as the TV distributor funds, the Canada Media Fund and various tax credits have done a good job of encouraging the production of homegrown programs, but there just isn’t enough capital to fund more Canadian programming. Other countries are increasing their TV production subsidies and so too should Canada.

Hirsh also had some precise proposals for how subsidies could be made to work. Those interested are encouraged to read the original article. For the sake of completeness, let us add one more heresy to the mix:

  • subsidization of Canadian video entertainment can take place independently of the broadcasting regulatory structure.

If we could have a Royal Commission on the subject of Canadian content, it should have the following features:

  • it should not be about broadcasting, which is an obsolescent techno-legal construct
  • it should be predicated on the idea that computers have been invented,
  • that the Internet was invented to carry the traffic generated by computers
  • its membership should be recruited from people who live and breathe this reality.


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Timothy Denton is a lawyer by training who practices principally in telecommunications and Internet policy and domain name issues, with a strong concentration on explaining what the technology is and what it means.


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Guest Tuesday, 12 November 2019
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