Imagine for a moment that you are Jean Pierre Blais, Chairman of the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission, our federal regulator of all things broadcast.
In the next few weeks you would have to rule on a revised plan for Bell to acquire Astral and become the owner of about half of everything on radio and television in this country while not threatening to put everybody else out of business.
You’d also have to referee a scrap between Astral and Quebecor Media over the latter’s launch of a French Canadian version of Netflix, something Astral’s suitor Bell already promised it would launch if its acquisition bid were successful yet apparently takes umbrage with Quebecor doing the same thing.
Then there will be an application from SunTV, the leaning in a different ideological direction news service to be a required part of basic cable services across the country. A move opposed by tens of thousands of interested members of the public –- and supported by an almost equal number of interveners.
At the same time, you’ll have to decide whether APTN (our aboriginal broadcaster) remains on that same “must-carry” slate while delivering its own Keanu Reeves and Val Kilmer heavy slate of movies featuring actors of aboriginal heritage.
Same decision has to be made about Vision TV, a one time multi-faith broadcaster now offering “Fawlty Towers” and “Columbo” re-runs to an aging Boomer audience between its Evangelicals and Mullahs.
Then there’s “Starlight”, another applicant for “must-carry” status promising a rebirth of Canadian film while offering a schedule chock full of Canadian “Classics” from more than 30 years ago.
I’m particularly looking forward to Starlight’s presentation of the Walt Disney feature “Running Brave” featuring American actor Robbie (whatever happened to him) Benson as US Olympic sprinter Billy Mills.
Starlight’s website lets us know that this film qualifies as “Canadian” because it was financed by Canadian Cree money and was the work of iconic director Don Shebib who removed his name after Disney re-edited the film behind his back.
So, you and/or Mr. Blais will have to decide whether Canadians will be pleased to see their cable bills increase in order to share such Cancon trivia around Tim Horton’s on a Saturday morning.
And maybe either of you might get somebody to explain why a movie with an aboriginal story isn’t on APTN instead of dubious 20 year old American Western series like “The Young Riders”.
But that’s the exasperatingly incomprehensible world of Canadian television and a reflection of the complicated balancing act Jean Pierre and his fellow commissioners have to accomplish.
They almost require this guy’s talents. And even then, it might not be enough.
Enjoy Your Sunday.