Thursday, 30 May 2013

Hollywood Babble On & On #1027: Canadian Protectionism & Alien Bigotry?


Congratulations to Simon & Schuster Canada on being allowed by the Canadian government to publish Canadian authors in Canada.

Hmmm.... That doesn't make much sense... I think I need to do some explaining.

Simon & Schuster Canada, the North of the Border division of big international publisher Simon & Schuster, was restricted by the Canadian government. In the name of protecting Canadian culture S&S Canada was, until recently, only allowed to distribute American titles, but were not allowed to publish Canadian authors in Canada, even though the company obviously wanted to.

How did the old regulation that denied S&S Canada the ability to publish Canadian authors protect Canadian culture?


In fact, it probably did more harm than good.

When you want your culture to be vital and alive, the arrival of someone with deep pockets and an interest in investing money, time, and effort into putting more of your nation's authors on bookshelves should be seen as a good thing. 

Not in Canada.

Or to be more specific, not in certain offices in Toronto.

You see, the regulation had nothing to do with protecting Canadian culture. You see, Canada has a lot of space, but not much population, and the bulk of that population is laid out in a strip alongside the border of a massive pop-culture juggernaut called the USA. That means that in the areas of pop culture, movies, television, and books, already have natural market forces tipped against them.

In music and television things got really screwy with radio and TV broadcasters refusing to air anything Canadian made. In radio this included songs that were huge hits in the USA and UK, but couldn't get any airplay in their native country.

That all changed when the government imposed the Canadian Content regulations (AKA CanCon) which said that if they wanted a license to broadcast in Canada, they needed to air a certain amount of Canadian made material. This caused an explosion in Canadian music and television actually reaching Canadian audiences. At first a lot of the television was pretty crappy, but a lot of great music was finally able to find a domestic audience.

Now that's protectionism structured to protect Canadian culture, and you would think that an international publisher wanting to do business in Canada would follow similar guidelines. You would expect them to say to S&S Canada to say: "If you want to put out American books in Canada a percentage of your output should be Canadian authors."

But not so.


Well the answer is simple. The regulation wasn't about protecting Canadian culture, it's about protecting the elite group of Toronto publishers who were in positions of influence with politicians and bureaucrats when the regulations were put into effect. Those publishers didn't want competition for government arts grants and hopefully avoid paying fair market prices for Canadian authors.

But with the whole Random/Penguin merger there was an opening, and S&S Canada was allowed into the club.


That's a question no one has ever asked until a group of Academics did and the answer is YES!

The Doctor, last of the Time Lords, is more than just a raging Dalek-aphobe, these experts say he doesn't like black people because he plays cricket... or something...

The whole thing doesn't make a lot of logical sense since the Doctor is an alien, and fictional, and the knee jerk reaction to this report is to say that the authors should save a seat at the funny farm.

But the authors are not crazy.

They're not right, but they're not delusional.

This whole thing reeks of cold opportunistic calculation.

Let's look at these 3 basic facts:

1. The BBC is an obsessively politically correct bureaucracy. If someone who happens to belong to one of their pre-approved socio-economic-ethnic demographic groups says they were offended by something on the BBC the Beeb will bend over backwards to win their forgiveness.

2. Doctor Who is one of the BBC's biggest exports bringing in millions in sales to foreign networks as well as DVDs and merchandise.

3. The BBC is notorious for arranging lucrative sinecures with their myriad boards, commissions, and bureaucratic offices for people who provide some sort of political advantage for the BBC.

It's simple math, attack the BBC's biggest cash cow with the BBC's own liberal guilt and the BBC will have a nice little freak out. Fighting it too hard will only make the critics scream louder which makes the pale princes at the top of the BBC food chain feel bad about themselves so that's out of the question. This leaves BBC management two permissible options they must either plead guilty and cancel Doctor Who, losing all that sweet, sweet revenue, or save their money-maker by essentially buying off the critics.

I fully expect the authors of the damning tome to get well paid low work jobs at the BBC that have the word "Diversity" somewhere in the title.

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