What should the government consider improving? What are the gaps in Canada’s approach to broadcasting, telecommunications, and culture generally? And how can the system better support Canada’s content creators?
For the latest edition of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute’s Straight Talk Q & As, MLI spoke with Jill Golick, an award-winning writer and former president of the Writers Guild of Canada. She is one of Canada’s leading thinkers on broadcasting and cultural policy.
This Straight Talk is based on a recent episode of Pod Bless Canada, in which Golick and MLI Munk Senior Fellow Sean Speer examine her vision for taking Canadian media to new levels of commercial success and creative achievement.
While the current broadcasting and telecommunications policies may have served Canada in the past, Golick argues that they have become outdated as the industry continues to evolve.
“The broadcasters really have total control of what kind of Canadian content is made right across the board,” says Golick. “Although we have this very robust funding system in Canada, you cannot access it without a broadcaster’s green light. The broadcasters not only choose what shows they put on the air, but they also choose what shows can get access to that funding.”
With this sort of funding model in place, broadcasters control program funding, leaving few resources for creators to develop content that is both original and more relevant for the current era of streaming and on demand programming.
According to Golick, for Canadian culture to remain competitive on the world stage, we should strive towards developing a system that is less about selling advertisements and is instead more authentically creator-driven. “What we need to do is give creators the time and the resources to create original programming.”
Some potential reforms and solutions could include:
- Changing the Canadian Media Fund model to better disburse funding directly to creators;
- Developing accelerator funding programs for creators that are similar to programs used in the technology sector;
- Improving Canada’s regulatory environment with an eye towards retaining creator talent;
- Setting targets and establishing dedicated funding for marginalized / minority creators.
Despite challenges, Golick stresses that the future is bright for the Canadian cultural industries.
“I’m really optimistic about Canadian creators and the Canadian production industry. We’re completely world-class… People come from all over the world to have Canadians write and create their shows.”
To read the full Straight Talk Q & A, click here.
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