Slowly but surely the government is gathering the media into its ghastly embrace

I don’t want to alarm you, but you might like to know that the federal government is about to take over the media. Every minute of every hour of every day of what is broadcast on Canadian radio and television is overseen by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission , with its sprawling mandate to protect the public from material that is harmful, degrading or American. The results are about as dire as you would expect — an industry that, after many decades of state nurturing, remains largely alien to the public it allegedly serves. Still, in television’s technological infancy there was probably no escaping this sort of thing.

Instead, late last year, the Minister of Heritage, Steven Guilbeault, unveiled Bill C-10, the aim of which is to deliver the whole of the audiovisual internet, domestic or foreign, into the CRTC’s trembling hands. Rather than freeing the conventional broadcasters to follow their fleeing viewers online, the government proposes to subject streaming services to the same stultifying regulatory regime that made our television so unwatchable in the first place. In yet a third bill to be introduced this session, the government has declared it will regulate the content posted by users on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. A separate tribunal would be set up to hear specific complaints about content, while still another body, the Social Media Council, would ensure the platforms’ operators were under constant pressure from «civil society».

That social media is often a social ill is not in doubt. Alas, I fear the government will instead contrive to make a bad situation worse. If the government were only putting all of the country’s newspapers on its payroll, or imposing Canadian content quotas on YouTube, or snooping through people’s tweets, it would be worrying enough.

Read more.

Source: Andrew Coyne | The Globe and Mail

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