a, Opinion

Do we still need Canadian content requirements?

We need more Canadian porn.  That is, according to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the government agency known for imposing strict requirements regarding the amount of Canadian-produced, written, or otherwise Canadian-made content that is aired on TV or radio. The aim of the CRTC is to ensure that Canadian programs get enough airtime, and that foreign, (notably American), TV shows and music do not dominate Canadian airwaves.  Latest on their list of crackdowns is the porn industry.  Specifically, the CRTC is demanding that three X-rated cable channels, AOV Adult Movie Channel, AOV XXX Action Clips, and AOV Maleflixxx, must meet their required 35 percent Canadian programming and 90 percent closed captioning minimums, or risk getting their licenses revoked. The Canadian content requirements, or CanCon regulations, as they are commonly called, are known to be harsh and, at times, nonsensical, but the recent demands of the CRTC have achieved a new level of absurdity.

The regulations in question are aimed at adult cable TV channels.  But with a nearly unlimited supply of Internet porn available at the click of a mouse, how many Canadians are actually paying to watch their porn on TV? Trying to regulate TV porn is futile, considering how many other sources of pornography are available.

Of course, the wealth of online sources of entertainment from around the world is surely a struggle facing the CRTC’s attempts to protect all Canadian sources of entertainment, not just porn. Online platforms for entertainment and music, such as YouTube, Netflix, and unauthorized downloading infringe upon the ability of the CRTC to achieve their goals in many other areas of entertainment. There are, admittedly, still some areas in which the CRTC has significant influence. Some examples of successful CanCon programs include popular shows, such as “Trailer Park Boys” and “Degrassi”.  However, online access to practically any program or clip from around the world makes the work of the CRTC largely ineffectual. Specifically, though, the immense use of Internet porn over any other viewing platform makes the porn industry one of the least logical areas of entertainment to attempt to regulate.

If government regulators are expending effort to ensure that the few people in Canada who are subscribed to cable TV porn are getting their required amounts of locally sourced erotica, it is fair to assume that the regulations are less concerned with providing viewers with domestically produced porn, and more interested in ensuring that Canadian porn producers, actors, and directors have adequate access to the porn market. The battle is not about preserving Canadian culture, but limiting the amount of foreign competition in the industry in order to make it easier for Canadian “artists” to make it in the pornography business. But when promoting Canadian pornographers becomes a priority, the general motives of CanCon are brought into question. If reform of the porn industry is really a priority, there are more urgent matters at hand than ensuring that enough Canuck pornographers have access to the airwaves.  Increasing the number of women directors, or addressing issues of violence and consent on sets, for example, are issues worth more attention.  Of course, these are not matters under the CRTC’s jurisdiction, but maybe that’s just another reason why they should leave porn alone.

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