Canadian broadcasters don't like Netflix. They are asking for their regulatory muscle, the CRTC, to do something about it (see here) ; but Netflix is only the latest to chip away at the monolithic Canadian broadcasting environment. It's arrival comes amidst the reality of more folks like me just walking away from that whole dedicated, 1-way entertainment model completely (see here).
I can see the appeal of Netflix - in some ways it is a return to the promises of cable - no commercials, preferred content. And now it is about watching when you want, as much as what you want. I remember that enthusiasm when we got cable back in the day: What excitement! So many choices! My small town BC experience even included MTV and the Movie Channel for a little while, until Canadian equivalents and the CRTC saved me from too much un-Canadian content.
Mind you, we were a family of news hounds, so ultimately cable meant new news more than new shows. I didn't see shows like SCTV or Kids in the Hall until adulthood. I liked MASH. I watched Quincey when I could, and loved Jack Webster.
I see a day soon when the cable feed model disappears completely, and something more akin to the Netflix model is the norm. Want to watch Bones in Canada? You become a member of the Global TV community. Maybe the CSI shows are more your style? CTV is for you! Love PBS and would rather fund it that CBC? Here's how!
The impact of television on our culture cannot be underestimated; and I'm drawing a distinction between broadcasting (television, radio) and cable - they are not the same!
I came to a new appreciation of television during a course on 20th c Canadian History in university. The prof mentioned that some years before, he had assigned a question to categorize Canadian federal elections over the 20th century and explain the choices, with one particular answer standing out: an examination of Canadian elections pre- and post- nationally televised elections. What a difference it would have made! After all, only some 7-10% of communication is the words we use - facial expression, tone, body language all comprise the remainder.
Just think about the most recent election debates - can you imagine not seeing them in action? Just listening?
We're continuing to find new ways to communicate and engage with each other across distances. New ways do not always supplant old ways - the language of drums is still used, for example.
So, dear broadcasters, thank you for your hard work over the years - I sincerely value the synergies created by pulling together a range of technologies, and the educational and entertaining programming you provided. I encourage you to keep developing the content - content matters!
But please! stop trying to push me into the audience!
*with gratitude to Jay Rosen et al at pressthink.org