Culture Police: Adult Movie Channels Not Canadian Enough

Culture is an essential part of Canada, and considering the proximity of the United States, supposedly there is a “need” for strong cultural protectionism. Therefore, there are Canadian/French (for Quebec) content requirements for every audio-visual domain, including … adult channels.

The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Council (CRTC) has reprimanded three adult film channels for not meeting their 35 percent Canadian content quota and failing to close-caption their movies properly. Their license will be revised at the end of April with “instances of non-compliance” marked against them.

No, this news was not taken from The Onion, the satirical news site. This is a ruling from a regulatory agency created to enforce the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Acts, among others. Both of these acts stipulate how much Canadian/French content there must be, and at what specific times throughout the day.

The CRTC censure on adult channels shows just how ridiculous cultural protectionism is in Canada. If anything needs government protection to survive, then it doesn’t deserve to exist. If a producer truly believes his product to be worthy and appropriate for consumers, be it a song or a new car, let it be tested in the market.

Artists like Celine Dion and Shania Twain, creators like Guy Laliberte (Cirque du Soleil), and writers like Lucy Maud Montgomery (Anne of the Green Gables) were able to flourish inside and outside the country. US authorities are not trying to block these Canadians. On the contrary, they are welcomed with open arms, as illustrated by steady performances from Celine Dion and Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas.

Unfortunately, most Canadian artists aired on radio or television are provided the stage only as part of the content quota, and not necessarily based on talent. On top of that, most of them receive generous tax credits from all levels of government.

French economist Frederic Bastiat demonstrated the fallacy of subsidizing the arts more than 160 years ago. His main argument holds true to this day. Indeed, using public money to fund the arts is merely a displacement of wealth. We “see” actors earning a living and enriching our culture. However, we “don’t see” what people would have done with that money, which may or may not have gone to the arts.

As a result, millions of dollars go wasted on movies that no one but the artists themselves and their families want to watch. If these films are truly of such good quality, how can this be happening? Quebec Culture Minister Maka Kotto mandated a government-run agency to find solutions to help the ailing cinema industry. Not surprisingly, it recommends more taxes and intervention.

The proposed solutions are simply a reinforcement of the status quo and are bound to fail. The best solution can perhaps be summed up by two words that are, ironically, hated by many French speakers: laissez faire. Of course, this means that many artists won’t be able to achieve their dream because they can’t rely on the government crutch.

In this way, however, we ensure that audio-visual artists flourish based on their talent (i.e. quality of their product) and not on money taken from Peter to pay Paul. This will also end the waste of government resources on such pettiness as Canadian content on adult movie channels.

To paraphrase General De Gaulle a little: Vive la culture libre!

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