You Aren't What You Watch: The Paradoxical Relationship between Canadian Content and National Identity

By:
Ms. Sara Tune
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This paper explores the Canadian state's attempts at building a national identity through television broadcast and related policy. The Canadian federal government has implemented a series of measures and sponsors a number of arms length agencies devoted to the dissemination of Canadian stories, told by Canadians to Canadians. The intention is that these "distinctly Canadian" messages will be translated by the viewing public into a shared conception of national identity. This work investigates the central weakness of the government's nation-building aspirations as exemplified by poor television ratings for Canadian content. If Canadians are not receiving the message by tuning in, then is the government failing to generating a sense of "Canadian-ness"? This paper asserts that national identity is generated through a more organic process than these policy goals would indicate. However, the research does not indicate that the Canadian state has failed in its endeavor to generate a shared sense of national identity through the implementation of state sponsored programs and policy. In fact, the government structures supporting film and television production do indeed have some bearing on the process of creating a Canadian national identity, though not in the manner that the government intends. The very existence of these structures is "distinctly Canadian". And Canadians' support of the perpetuation of these programs is indicative of their importance as symbols of "Canadian-ness."


Keywords: Television, Broadcast, Public Policy, National Identity, Canada, Canadian Content
Stream: Technology in Community
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Ms. Sara Tune

M.A. candidate, Faculty of Graduate Studies, Communication and Culture, York University
Canada

Ms Tune received a B.A. with honors for her thesis, "Beckett's Babel: An Examination of auto-translation in Samuel Beckett's Bilingual Oeuvre," from Wesleyan University in 1998. After completing her undergraduate studies, she moved to New York City where she worked in film and television production. On a trip to the Toronto International Film Festival, she became interested in the network of public policy designed to support film and television in Canada. She applied for and received a Fulbright scholarship to explore this policy further, while earning a masters degree at York and Ryerson Universities. Since beginning her studies, Ms Tune has received a Bell Globe Media Scholarship and the John Graham Fellowship from Osgoode Law School. She is currently in the process of completing her masters thesis on Canadian feature film policy and its failure to address serious issues of market control in the distribution sector.


Ref: T05P0110