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Opening Telecom to Foreign Ownership Means Surrendering Cultural Space

In Canada on August 5, 2010 at 08:36

DAILY NEWS Aug 4, 2010 7:47 AM – 0 comments

Opening Telecom to Foreign Ownership Means Surrendering Cultural Space

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Major media, music and audio visual industry associations in Canada say that opening the telecom sector to foreign investment will mean losing control of the country’s cultural identity.

In response to Industry Canada’s public consultation “Opening Canada’s Doors to Foreign Investment in Telecommunications: Options for Reform”, launched in June 2010, seven industry associations are calling for the current restrictions to remain unchanged.

They say that the country’s cultural industries turn out unique, non-substitutable products and that songs, films and TV series, documentaries and variety shows serve to affirm national identity,

The seven signatories – Association québécoise de l’industrie du disque, du spectacle et de la vidéo (ADISQ), Association des producteurs de films et de télévision du Québec (APFTQ), Association des réalisateurs et réalisatrices du Québec (ARRQ), Société des auteurs de radio, télévision et cinéma (SARTEC), Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN), Society for Reproduction Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers in Canada (SODRAC), and Union des artistes (UDA) – maintain that the cultural, broadcasting and telecommunications industries form a strategic whole. In order to remain competitive, this convergent whole must operate within a regulatory framework consistent with cultural policy imperatives.

Those who refuse to see the link between telecommunications, broadcasting and the cultural industries are denying the obvious: the convergence of these three sectors is a reality. Today, all Canadian telecom and broadcast carriers deliver and distribute works produced by Canada’s cultural industries. These same corporations also have subsidiaries that offer packages of telecommunications and broadcasting services.

While the benefits of broadcasting and telecommunications regulation are evident, the advantages of deregulating foreign control have yet to be shown. This raises the question of the real reasons behind the federal government’s proposed reform. The existing Canadian regulations have resulted in flourishing, high-performance companies that provide Canadians with accessible and affordable services. Denying this suggests that the government is pursuing a purely ideological agenda, rather than taking a fact-based approach.

The signatories see the richness and vitality of domestic production and the success of Canadian songs, films and TV series as proof of the sector’s ability to compete. And they credit these results to both public support measures and the existing regulatory framework.

Rather than fostering greater competition, opening the sector to foreign control would lead to the loss of decision-making bodies essential to the production and distribution of works created by and reflecting the values and experiences of local talent. Under foreign ownership, broadcasting and telecom companies would be tempted to give priority positioning and investment to products designed elsewhere.

The brief establishes that improving the competitiveness of the telecom/broadcasting/cultural industries sector requires maintaining national control of the companies involved and strengthening the current regulations that make it possible to produce and distribute original works reflecting Canada’s cultural fabric.

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