Pigs in Space


Sirius and XM want to bring their satellite radio services to Canada, but there's a movement afoot to block them. According to CTV, "The loudest voices in opposition stem from Quebec, where the artistic community contends there would only be a small number of French-language channels." The whole article proceeds in that vein, with the usual complaints that the U.S. is "dumping" its culture north of the border and that native content needs to be beefed up.

Seems to me that Canada should be more concerned with how it's managed to dump so many talented actors and musicians on us—but then that would imply the politicians weighing the future of satellite broadcasting are actually concerned with the state of the culture, as opposed to using a culture war to mask a industry's economic self-interest. I do have some sympathy for Canadian companies who will be hobbled by content requirements that fall more heavily on them than on their southern rivals, but it's telling that they're pushing to impose the same rules on Sirius and XM—or to bar them from the country altogether—and not to remove the shackles from everyone.

Things are different below the 49th parallel. When our broadcasters beg the feds to beat back the satellite-radio competition, they complain that there's too much local content.

NEXT: Our Eminent President

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  2. Every country has its defenders of culture. Here in the US, we usually call them “rednecks”.

  3. If they are so artistic why is half the country named Doug, eh?

  4. Cultural protectionism is a beauty way to go.

  5. A recent road trip to Canada exposed me to some Ontario FM rock stations. Exactly 12% of what I heard was Loverboy, Saga, Triumph, and Helix.
    But not one Rush song.
    Without such regs, luminaries such as Anne Murray and Gordon Lightfoot may never have made it.

  6. Without such regs, luminaries such as Anne Murray and Gordon Lightfoot may never have made it.

    Oh yeah…Coupla months ago I read an interview with some unknown Canadian singer-songwriter who was praising her home country’s policy of requiring a certain percentage of home-grown content on the airwaves. Funny thing is, even with said regulation, she’s still a total unknown; I can’t even remember her name!

  7. We don’t see what’s wrong with regulating content. Helps us keep society perfect.

  8. “We don’t see what’s wrong with regulating content. Helps us keep society perfect.”

    Man, when I find a guitar in a cave I’m kicking your fucking ass.

  9. I have an XM radio. Suppose I drove over the border to Canada. What happens? Does it work near the border? Does it magically stop working? Etc…

  10. I have been paying for Canadian satellite TV (in the lower 48 provinces) for about a year now, and I don’t regret it for a second. The content is more intellectually stimulating, and when it’s not that, they prioritize sex over violence. I can also timeshift over 5 time zones. I’m sure neither the U.S. nor Canadian regulators like it, but it works for me.

    I appreciate that there are content licensing and intelltectual property issues within various nations, but you’ve hit the nail on the head: the CRTC is basically a formalized restraint-of-trade body trying to prop up an industry.

  11. BBC America stopped showing the great Canadian comedy Trailer Park Boys a while back. Now Jennifer and I have to cross the border to buy DVDs (given the oft-inflated exchange rate at Amazon.ca), or I downl– find them when they fall off a truck.

  12. Without such regs, luminaries such as Anne Murray and Gordon Lightfoot may never have made it.

    Oh, give me a break. I don’t know about Anne Murray so much but Gordon Lightfoot was having success as a songwriter down here in the States about the time Bob Dylan was finding out what marijuana was for. The problem Canadian recording artists had was the same problem everyone had who wasn’t from New York, LA or Nashville, which was that it was (is?) nearly impossible to get the attention of the recording industry unless you take the chance and try to meet them on their own ground.

  13. Douglas, I was being sarcastic.

  14. “Cultural protectionism is a beauty way to go.”

    Brilliant! I see you were around during the 80s 🙂

  15. Jurisdictional arbitrageur wrote: the CRTC is basically a formalized restraint-of-trade body trying to prop up an industry.

    The “industry” is Canadian artistry and creativity, rather than institutional moguldom. Canadians who are involved in producing potential radio content anywhere in the world, using anyone’s capital, are eligible for protection (within certain limits).

    Akira starts this thread by mentioning Celine Dion, who works most of the time in the USA. Her recordings are still Canadian content. One might argue that she needs no protection, but how can we know that in her career’s beginning she did not benefit from the rule?

  16. I’d like joe to drop by and explain to us why Quebec opposition is actually promoting the right, sensible, economically- and culturally-sound approach here.

  17. So, I was listening to the local classic rock station the other day, and it played the Beatles, Elton John, AC/DC, Rush, the Stones, Bowie, U2, the Scorpions, Midnight Oil, Led Zeppelin, Clapton, and the Police. There was also a Priceline commercial with Shatner.

    Won’t somebody think of the artistically-inclined American children?!?! How will they ever be inspired if all these fur’ners dominate the airwaves?!?!

  18. Douglas, I was being sarcastic.

    Your forgot to use your 🙂

  19. XM Listener: XM service works over most of Canada (although, owing to the low angle of the satellites wrt the horizon, reception can be spotty).

    Sirius apparently, given their orbital path, works much better north of the border.

    Both services have several thousand Canadian subscribers who us a US address to subscribe. Most of those have no plans to use the Canadian services when they come out, as they’re likely to lose some music channels in the bargain (though they do sort of like the idea of losing the American news/talk channels that would almost certainly be deactivated in the Canadian service).

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