February 25, 1944

NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

The hon. member knows that is not evidence of what was said.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER ANNUAL REPORT AND REVIEW POLICIES OF CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. COLDWELL:

I beg my hon. friend's pardon. This is the official script from which the announcer gave the news broadcast on that particular evening.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER ANNUAL REPORT AND REVIEW POLICIES OF CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

That is

what the hon. member is told, but it is no evidence that he used that script.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER ANNUAL REPORT AND REVIEW POLICIES OF CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. COLDWELL:

I am prepared to take

the statement of the responsible officials of the corporation, besides those who listened to the broadcast that evening told me the statement made in the house by the hon. member for Macleod was incorrect.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER ANNUAL REPORT AND REVIEW POLICIES OF CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
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SC

Ernest George Hansell

Social Credit

Mr. HANSELL:

I heard it.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER ANNUAL REPORT AND REVIEW POLICIES OF CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. COLDWELL:

I am prepared to take

the statement of those who heard the broadcast, and I place the script on record as follows:

In the House of Commons to-day Prime Miuister Mackenzie King indicated that the government might have a statement to make regarding General McNaughton when the Minister of National Defence (Colonel Ralston) spoke on the war appropriation bill.

Mr. King made this suggestion after two party leaders of the opposition asked that the government make a statement on General McNaughton's resignation.

The Progressive Conservative house leader (Mr. Graydon) said he was amazed at the position taken by the government. He said the government had said that General McNaughton had left the command of the Canadian Army overseas because of ill health, but General McNaughton had been quoted in the newspapers as saying that he was in good health. Mr. Graydon said the government should explain immediately.

The C.C.F. leader (Mr. Coldwell) suggested that the whole question be discussed next Monday, but Mr. King replied that he would have to consider the length of time the debate on the speech from the throne would continue.

There is a fair and accurate statement of what actually occurred in the house that afternoon, The script simply recites the facts as a news item.

I have a much longer one, having to do with another occasion. A broadcast of the national

Radio Broadcasting Committee

news on February 9 was criticized in the house on the ground that undue prominence was given to the hon. member for Weyburn (Mr. Douglas). I am not going to read that script, because it is too long. May I point out however that fifty-two lines are given to members of the government and of the opposition. To the hon. member for Weyburn (Mr. Douglas)

*-and I have counted every part line I could- six lines are given. Let us try to keep a proper perspective in these matters, and see to it'that we in the House of Commons, in making criticisms without first of all having a basis for them, do not ourselves undermine the corporation in the minds of the people.

Throughout the existence of this corporation this parliament has urged support for a single national authority, and that the affairs of the corporation be conducted by a general manager and an assistant general manager responsible to the board of governors. Parliament itself-the corporation is a creature of parliament, not a department of government- has endeavoured on every occasion to enact legislation to safeguard the complete independence of the broadcasting corporation. As a trustee for the people of Canada and of those who pay licence fees, the board of governors reports to this parliament through the committee we are to set up to-day.

We have been told that the ministers of the crown are merely channels of communication between the board of governors and the government of Canada. That has been iterated and reiterated before the committee on numerous occasions. As late as last June 9 I questioned the minister closely on this point, and I have a transcript of that evidence before me. I did so because I had gome doubts as to whether the minister was carrying out the intentions of the act and not interfering in any way with the broadcasting corporation. My concluding question was whether there had been any interference, and the minister said:

There has not been any exercise of any political pressure or any attempt made to dominate the board politically and I believe the same goes for those who were in the position before I was.

Since that time there has been evidence of direct political interference with the broadcasting corporation. On November 17 last the Minister of National War Services (Mr. LaFleche) issued a statement to the press in which he indicated clearly that he had inter. fered directly with the management of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He announced that a series of broadcasts planned by the corporation had been suspended. I use the word "suspended," because while most of

the newspaper reports used the word "cancelled," subsequently it was shown that the series had been suspended. I think this is the first time on record that any minister has taken unto himself the right to interfere with the management of the broadcasting corporation. The minister's statement was:

The acting general manager of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation recently discussed with me an item of Things to Come which have been proposed for the CBC programmes.

It matters not whether hon. members were or were not in approval of that programme; the fact remains that the management of the corporation is in the hands of the board of governors; the minister had no right to issue any statement suspending a programme of the corporation, nor had the assistant general manager any right to place this matter before the minister instead of before the board of governors. The board of governors was the only authority that should have been called together if there was any doubt about this programme. As I say, the general manager should not have consulted the minister, or, if he did, the minister should have refused to give any opinion. The act is quite clear as to the functions of the minister, and, as I say, at no time has any other minister misunderstood its provisions.

This house has always recognized the danger of political interference and has endeavoured to safeguard the corporation in every way. The minister had no more right to interfere with the programmes of the C.B.C. than he had to interfere with the programmes of any private radio station. His authority is strictly limited by the broadcasting act. The government itself must to a large extent assume responsibility for the condition into which the broadcasting corporation has fallen. They retained, I think inadvisedly, the board of governors against which the committee of 1942 made very strong recommendations. I say without fear of contradiction that a great deal of the difficulty and the undermining of the corporation was due to the kind of person who was general manager up to the middle of 1942. We know now from his own written record that that gentleman admitted that in his activities in Great Britain before he came here he went to the British Broadcasting Corporation in order to safeguard the rights of what he called private enterprise, in whose employ he is to-day.

I am not going to pursue that. During the following year the gentleman who was appointed as acting general manager, Doctor Thomson of the university of Saskatchewan, did a job upon which we can well congratulate him. He raised again the standard of the

Radio Broadcasting Committee

C.B.C. and restored it considerably in the public esteem. The failure of the governors to appoint a competent general manager since he left is in my opinion responsible to a large extent for the condition in which we find the broadcasting corporation now. I am certain that the people of Canada are anxious that this parliament and this government shall safeguard this great vehicle of information, this great educational arm, against private interference of any sort.

The dangers of handing over the control of such a corporation or of its^facilities to purely private profit-making organizations are recognized even by those in the employ of some of the great private profit-making radio corporations. If hon. members will look up page 247 of appendix No. 1 of the proceedings of the special committee of last year they will find recorded a remarkable address given by Doctor James R. Angell, public service counseller of the National Broadcasting Company of the United States. I noticed in the newspapers that he was in Quebec a few days ago attending a radio convention. He said that the first concern of private broadcasting companies in the United States was that of making money, and of making as much of it as possible. If I may quote his speech in part:

Critics of the system are also disposed to raise the question as to who really owns our broadcasting. The obvious answer would be the stockholders or the individual owners and, from the legal point of view, this is undoubtedly the correct answer. But when one gets behind the scenes , and discovers what part is played by sponsors and by agencies who act as middle-men between the sponsor and the broadcasting company, this answer may be regarded as not quite telling the -whole story. If, by leasing the facilities of a broadcasting company for a given period of time, an agency or a sponsor can in fact largely determine what the public shall hear, the practical effect is much the same as though the sponsor and the agency actually owned these facilities. Naturally, the management of a company exercises final control over the programme which goes on the air. Nevertheless, there is still a measure of truth in the old adage-that he who pays the piper can call the tune.

A little later he said this:

No one can think it strange therefore that, as compared with the ringing tones of the sponsor and the advertising agency, the voices of the church and the school, to mention only these two, are often going to sound rather distant and faint in the broadcaster's ears.

In discussing the soap programmes, to which the hon. member for YorkdSunbury (Mr. Hanson) indicated some objection or dislike, and whiqh I myself have often criticized, Doctor Angell said this:

Now there are many who deplore the fact that an industry in which truly enduring and 100-56J

basic public interests are involved, one potentially capable of doing so much to educate taste, to increase understanding, to deepen and strengthen the foundations of our national life, should so often yield to the itch for money and, in consequence, should so frequently indulge in puerile forms of entertainment appealing to the very low brackets of intelligence, on the assumption that only by programmes of that kind can the goods be sold that chiefly support radio.

Just one more quotation from the same address: He said:

I have met a great many owners and managers of American broadcasting stations in my time and found them fine upstanding business men, but I have infrequently met any whose concern for the public service they were rendering could be mentioned in the same breath with their interest in making money.

I think we should profit by the experience of this man, who has been so closely associated with the National Broadcasting Company. When I have time I listen to radio programmes, and while there is much in our national broadcasting programmes that we may criticize, I say without fear of contradiction that the absence of advertising on so many of our programmes and the attempts that are being made by the broadcasting corporation over the national network to raise the standards of tastes in music, drama and so forth, deserve favourable comment. They have done and are doing a job of which, in many respects, we may be well proud. Some programmes we can criticize, but on the whole the absence of advertising and the type of programme produced compare very favourably with the constant advertising content of the programmes of the great American broadcasting chains. Remember, the words I have quoted this afternoon are not mine but those of the public service counsellor of the greatest privately-owned broadcasting organization in the world, and it was to ensure for the people of Canada radio services that would be freed from the influences to which Doctor Angell refers, that our broadcasting corporation was established.

It is the duty of parliament to see that this corporation is not destroyed. Money-making interests are anxious to undermine it. It appears to me, as it does to many others, that the government has failed in some instances to appoint the right kind of persons to the board of governors. It has appointed persons not sufficiently interested in the subject even to attend, as we found in the broadcasting committees of former years, a sufficient number of the meetings of the board of governors.

Speaking of the board of governors and the right kind of appointments thereto, I congratulate the government upon having appointed recently to the board of governors a man of the type of Mr. Parker of the Mani-

Radio Broadcasting Committee

toba wheat pool, the head of a great cooperative farm organization. I am sure that he will bring to the corporation, the point of view of the large number of people who want to cooperate in maintaining this great and effective national service. Of course, there are others of the same type on the board; I am not saying it is true of the whole board, because it has seemed to some of us that some have not taken a sufficient interest in the corporation to do what was required of them.

There are other matters I have in mind, but since I am a member of the committee I shall not detain the house to discuss them now, they can well be brought before the committee itself. I want to say, however, to the government, that the committee of last year and the year before were anxious that Canada's voice should be heard across the air waves of the world, and that to this end a short-wave broadcasting station might be built as rapidly as possible. I do not know just at what stage it is, but in the final analysis it is a matter of money, and at this stage of the war, when we are hoping that within a measurable time we may see its end-although it may be further away than some of us hope-it would be well that Canada's voice be heard on occasion by the oppressed peoples of Europe, by the people of South America and other parts of the world. It is of vital importance that Canada, of which we can well be proud, a country which has attained first place among the smaller nations, should maintain the closest contact with other nations, particularly the small nations, and I am therefore most anxious to see our short-wave broadcasting station completed at the earliest possible moment. We make heavy contributions in mutual aid to our allies. It seems to me a relatively small thing to ask that the necessary equipment for this Canadian short-wave broadcasting station should be given special priority. Construction has been delayed now for some months. I appeal to the government to see to it that the station be completed soon.

These are some of the matters I -wished to place before the house, because I feel we have a duty not only to ourselves and to the people of to-day, but also to posterity. A former leader of'the Conservative party, Right Hon. R. B. Bennett, said on more than one occasion in this house he was quite sure that if the people of Canada had to do things over again, such as the building of great railway systems, they would never allow these railways to get away from the public control; and, he added, how much more important it is that we should not allow the air and the air waves to be alienated from the complete control of

the 'people of Canada. I concur entirely in that opinion.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER ANNUAL REPORT AND REVIEW POLICIES OF CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
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SC

Ernest George Hansell

Social Credit

Mr. E. G. HANSELL (Macleod):

I am prompted to say a word or two with respect to the setting up of this committee on radio broadcasting and the matter of broadcasting generally. The hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell) has referred to a statement I made the other night in respect to a certain proportion of publicity being given his party. That has need for some comment; for since making that statement I have had numerous requests for further information. I have had letters and telephone calls asking me for an explanation; many have congratulated me on the statements I made in bringing this matter to the attention of parliament, and of course it goes without saying there were some who severely criticized me. I shall not deal with that matter at the moment. I will come to my hon. friend a little later.

I know there are views held in Canada in respect to greater control of radio, and there are views in respect to government ownership. Some people believe in government ownership because they hold that the profits that accrue to private industry should be turned back to the public. I am sure that this principle under the present economic system is very greatly misunderstood. However, even granting for argument's sake-I say, for argument's sake- that the principle has some merit, I am certain that when it is applied to national radio broadcasting it becomes only a pretext to focus public opinion on a less important principle, without recognition of the real danger, namely, that of national radio gradually becoming a huge monopoly of government propaganda. Imagine a situation in which a government has the sole right-excluding all others, the government being the only authority-to mould public thought; and may I interject that I should not like to see that day come with a socialist government in power.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER ANNUAL REPORT AND REVIEW POLICIES OF CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. COLDWELL:

Or any other government.

Mr. LaFLECHE: There won't be.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER ANNUAL REPORT AND REVIEW POLICIES OF CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
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SC

Ernest George Hansell

Social Credit

Mr. HANSELL:

No, or any other government. I will add that, but I am making a distinction by emphasizing a socialist government, because our socialist friends do believe in control.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER ANNUAL REPORT AND REVIEW POLICIES OF CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. COLDWELL:

Democratic controlwhich you do not have under private enterprise.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER ANNUAL REPORT AND REVIEW POLICIES OF CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
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SC

Ernest George Hansell

Social Credit

Mr. HANSELL:

My hon. friend likes to interject, and I have no objections. In his speech this afternoon he advocated a greater measure of government control of radio broadcasting.

Radio Broadcasting Committee

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER ANNUAL REPORT AND REVIEW POLICIES OF CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
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?

Thomas Miller Bell

Mr. COLD WELL:

Public control.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER ANNUAL REPORT AND REVIEW POLICIES OF CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
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SC

Ernest George Hansell

Social Credit

Mr. HANSELL:

However, for the moment I am not dealing with that. I was talking about profits; and, since the matter of radio profits has been brought to the attention of this country by discussion at previous sittings of the radio committee, I am going to suggest that some investigation be made of that part of commercial broadcasting where profits accruing to the sponsors are involved. I do not now refer to profits which might be made by private stations, although I have no objection to investigation there also. I am not so strongly convinced that huge profits are being made by the private broadcasting stations of Canada. I refer in this respect particularly to profits of commercial sponsors in relation to advertising costs. Commercial broadcasting is essentially a business of advertising, and these advertising costs, paid for by commercial sponsors, I am told run into hundreds of thousands of dollars, or, taking the whole continent, millions upon millions of dollars a year. These advertising costs must be written into the price of products advertised, with the result that the consumer pays the shot. I know that it does not always work out that way, because I realize there is the principle that when a product has sufficient advertising to give it a sufficient volume of distribution it can be produced at a less cost than otherwise. That factor enters into the matter, but it does not make any difference in respect to some investigations which I think should be carried on in that respect. I do not know that it is the duty of the radio committee to do that. It might be the duty of the banking and commerce committee or some other committee of the kind. But I believe that such an investigation would throw quite a light on that subject.

For instance, I have a chart here which gives the talent cost of certain radio programmes. This talent cost is not the whole cost which a sponsor will have to pay. The talent cost of the Jack Benny programme is $20,000 for one programme.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER ANNUAL REPORT AND REVIEW POLICIES OF CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN:

Jack Benny gets $25,000 a week.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER ANNUAL REPORT AND REVIEW POLICIES OF CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
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SC

Ernest George Hansell

Social Credit

Mr. HANSELL:

I do not know what his ' salary may be.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER ANNUAL REPORT AND REVIEW POLICIES OF CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

Is that the Canadian cost or the international cost?

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER ANNUAL REPORT AND REVIEW POLICIES OF CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
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SC

Ernest George Hansell

Social Credit

Mr. HANSELL:

No, he is p-aid by the sponsors of the products, General Foods.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER ANNUAL REPORT AND REVIEW POLICIES OF CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. KNOWLES:

We all pay for it.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER ANNUAL REPORT AND REVIEW POLICIES OF CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
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SC

Ernest George Hansell

Social Credit

Mr. HANSELL:

Well, you may. That is my argument. The talent costs for the Bob Hope programme are $11,000.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER ANNUAL REPORT AND REVIEW POLICIES OF CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN:

He is worth it.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER ANNUAL REPORT AND REVIEW POLICIES OF CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
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February 25, 1944