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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Thick, Black Line (Part 2)

I'll be honest, even with only 100 pages left, I didn't want to go back and read the rest of this document.

I had the momentum going last Wednesday, I sat down Thursday to open it up... and I just didn't have the heart. That little voice in my head said 'why? You know what's going to be there: More black lines and a whole lot of non-speak' and so I just didn't bother.

In fact, I probably wouldn't have even bothered to pick up this topic again if it weren't for a couple threads I started on Ink Canada that got me thinking.

Saving Local TV: A History Lesson and How would you re-imagine the CRTC?

See, the CRTC... well, I wonder how often they get a chance to hear from people who aren't calling them up to rip them a new asshole?

I wonder what they think about the average Canadian - if they truly look at us as the unwashed masses, poorly informed and screeching (like I sometimes imagine)? Or is their frustration rooted in the very valid problem of trying to find a utilitarian solution to a situation that just doesn't allow for one?

I mean, technically, corporations are Canadians too.

But, with that said, what do you do when one section of the populace (CTV) is clearly playing Pied Piper to the other (looking at you, "Save Local TV" campaign)? How can you see through the sudden swell of populist outrage - or moreso, navigate it and make sure everyone comes out of it smelling like roses?

Can you?

Like the newspapers of old (remember when they had the power to sway public opinion en masse?) savvy broadcasters have found the gumption to push forward with information well known but rarely used outside of election time: "If you own the airwaves, it doesn't matter what everyone else thinks".

So we end up with Canadians having their heart-strings pulled to "Save Local programming"... watching from the sidelines as buses of the elderly - many of which (not all) couldn't possibly be in the know about what's actually going on in the bigger picture - are brought in and used to help save the seemingly struggling underdog. Of course, not being aware that the struggling underdog is owned by a massive corporation that is, itself, its own worst enemy as one (specialty TV) takes from the other (Local, over the air).

And, hey, this'd all be fine and dandy (okay, no, not really) if there was even much Local programming left to save. I mean, short of news and a handful of local shows like "Prairie Farm Report" there isn't much fat to cut.

I'm still waiting to see if CTV will step forward with a concrete plan detailing exactly how all this influx of money is going to help save Local TV (you know, until the next time they need something... but then it's just a matter of asking to raise the fees they're looking to impose... much easier).

Listen, I'm not saying that Local TV doesn't deserve to be saved - quite the contrary - but what gets stuck in my craw is the blatant manipulation being portrayed that somehow these fine people are standing up to the mean government bureaucrats that want to close down their local station.

They're not. It's all smoke and mirrors - a trick, brilliant in its timing and execution, an emotional 'pseudo-grassroots' tactic to get Canadians off our butts and to happily tell the government that we're glad to give just a little bit more to the TV man as long as he doesn't close down the gaunt remnants of our Local TV station.

It's all a money grab - plain and simple. A grab at a new, perpetual source of income for a company that really, in the grand scheme of things, is not hurting at all. Well, unless you talk to the shareholders - but that in itself is a perpetual wound.

Long and short of it: THIS is where the CRTC is needed, where it should be our hard line of defense against blatant crap like this. Mass manipulation simply because, well, they can - they have the access and the tech and the time... so why not, right?

These tactics are working... and it turns my stomach to watch it in action.

Listen to Mr. Brian Masse, MP of Windsor West:

I'm going to go and read the rest of that document. Part 3 - commentary on the last 100 pages will be up tomorrow.


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