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Canadianization revisited: Programme formats and the new cultural economy of the Canadian broadcasting industry

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The Canadian broadcast sector has been the subject of many policy initiatives and much hand wringing. This article uses a production study of the reality television sector in Toronto, Canada’s centre for English-language production, to consider how the concerted move towards an entrepreneurial, market-driven television economy since the late 1990s has dovetailed with the rise of the global trade in formats. The article considers some of the key policy moves in this period of neo-liberalization, including the de-regulation of ownership, the introduction of group licensing, and shifts in the definition of ‘priority’ Canadian content. The article concludes that the set of related shifts in both technologies and considerations about television’s social and economic role has led to an almost purely market-driven (though state subsidized) system that disadvantages both smaller industry players and the broadcast system’s public mandate. The challenges experienced in Canada during this period are not unique, making it into a case study for small market television nations.
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Keywords: CRTC; Canadian television; formats; global television; reality television producers; small nation television

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Simon Fraser University

Publication date: January 1, 2016

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