August 24, 1946

PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. FLEMING:

Does the hon. member say that this statement made by Doctor Frigon to the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar was notice to these stations themselves that the C.B.C., as a matter of policy, would take over their wave lengths definitely?

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING ACT
Subtopic:   CORPORATION TO RECEIVE LICENCE FEES- ADVANCES ON ACCOUNT OF CAPITAL EXPENDITURES
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LIB

William Alfred Robinson

Liberal

Mr. ROBINSON (Simeoe East):

I am not suggesting that this is a direct notice to the people involved; but I will say that representatives of at least CFRB appeared later on in that committee, as will be seen by the proceedings; 'and, as the hon. member knows, the private stations took an active part and a great interest in the sittings of the radio committee. This is a matter of public record, and I think it is at least constructive notice. Following that-

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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. FLEMING:

There is no vested interest. That is the law.

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LIB

William Alfred Robinson

Liberal

Mr. ROBINSON (Simeoe East):

I refer the hon. member to the last question which I read:

Q. So that they can be renewed at any time that the corporation needs those channels?

A. They can be turned over to the C.B.C.

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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. FLEMING:

It does not say that is their policy.

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LIB

William Alfred Robinson

Liberal

Mr. ROBINSON (Simeoe East):

Coming now to the report of the committee of 1942, it reaffirms the principle of-

. . . the public ownership of all high power stations under a national system of broadcasting, with low power stations individually operated or coordinated in relation to the dominant system.

The report goes on to say, at page 1095:

The private broadcasting stations have no vested interest in the sound-waves they are allowed to use. The government and the .corporation should not hesitate to terminate any licence when it is in the public interest to do so. Any increase in power considered necessary and desirable to occupy the channels allowed under the Havana agreement should be made in stations owned or taken over by the corporation.

I do not think anything could be much clearer than the proceedings from which I have quoted, and these phrases from the final report of that committee, and I think it will be seen that the C.B.C. is only proposing to do now that which it had in contemplation some years ago and which has been delayed by reason of the war. At the same time I urge the C.B.C. and the government to give every assistance to the affected stations in allocating the best possible alternative wave lengths to them and to allow them to develop sufficient power on their new wave lengths to maintain and continue their present fine position as community stations.

In conclusion, I should like to say a few words as to the committee itself. I personally found the work extremely interesting. It was the first time that I had had the privilege of sitting on the radio committee. As the various statements were made, the witnesses were examined and the representations were given to us, I am sure that every new member of the committee, including myself, obtained an entirely new, and in most respects satisfying, picture of the present position of radio in Canada and of its future development.

I heartily concur in the recommendation that a similar committee be appointed each year. I should like to emphasize that it should commence its work early in the session.

I would go farther and say a few words about the personnel of the committee. Radio is a fascinating, but an extremely technical, subject. In the committee we were tremendously assisted by hon. members who had had the opportunity of sitting on previous committees and who had a good grounding in the subject. Perhaps I should not mention names particularly, but I should like to make some mention of the good work done by the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell), the hon. member for Macleod (Mr. Hansell) and the hon. member for St. Paul's (Mr. Ross). I should also like to pay a tribute

Radio Broadcasting

to the able chairmanship of the hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre (Mr. Maybank). Therefore I think any committee which is appointed in future should have a good proportion of old hands and a fairly generous sprinkling of new blood, so that a good many members of the house may be given an opportunity to study our radio problems.

I believe that a yearly committee is essential if parliament is to exercise the close scrutiny which should be exercised over such a powerful instrument, if we are to be assured that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is carrying out its declared functions, for instance, that it is giving coverage to remote and sparsely populated areas and equality of opportunity of discussion of public questions.

One of the questions which should certainly have the attention of any future radio committee was that raised by the Canadian Association of Broadcasters and touched on by the hon. member for Lake Centre (Mr. Diefenbaker), namely, the matter of appeal from Canadian Broadcasting Corporation decisions. It seems to me that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, as a regulatory as well as an operative body, must at times be placed in a somewhat anomalous position. The present committee did not have the time to study this question carefully, but it has left the door wide open to future study. I agree that such study should be made.

I do not think I can be accused of taking up too much of the time of the house, but I feel that I have spoken sufficiently long at this late hour of the session on the general aspects of the measure before us. There are a few particular points which I should like to refer to later but I can do that when the bill is in committee.

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SC

Norman Jaques

Social Credit

Mr. NORMAN JAQUES (Wetaskiwin):

I just wish to make two or three remarks. Although not a member of the radio committee I have listened to the debate with great interest. With the exception of probably two members from the C.C.F. party, all members have spoken against the danger of the growing monopoly of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation over radio. The leader of the C.C.F. (Mr. Coldwell) quoted the words of the then Minister of Munitions and Supply (Mr. Howe), who said:

The aim of broadcasting should be a complete coverage by government facilities, and the present situation demands complete control over all forms of broadcasting, whether public or

private.

From the record I am not sure when that statement was made, but in the light of what has happened elsewhere in the world as a result of government monopoly it now seems to me to be a terrible statement. The leader of the C.C.F. apparently endorses it, because he goes on to say, as reported at page 5297 of Hansard of yesterday:

In view of all that is happening to-day, in view of I will not say lobbying because that would not be true, but in view of the tremendous press campaign that has gone on across Canada in the last year, to limit the powers of the present broadcasting corporation ...

I take it from that that the leader of the C.C.F. is against limiting of the powers of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. I wonder what would be said if the government were to apply the same ideas to the press. I do not see much difference between the press and the radio. If the government has absolute control over the one, why should it not have absolute control over the other? It seems to me that it is a most dangerous situation.

I should like to acknowledge my thanks to the private stations for the privileges which they have accorded hon. members in their broadcasts over local stations. There, again, that was a privilege granted by private stations, not by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. As a member of the house I have never received any facilities whatsoever from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. On the contrary, when time on the air was allotted to the various parties in the house this group of thirteen members was given the same time as a group which no longer exists in the house; the only member they had is now serving a sentence as an enemy of his country. The Labour Progressive party, the communist party, is given the same facilities over the nationally controlled Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as the Social Credit party with thirteen members in the house, and the movement which has formed the government of the province of Alberta since 1935. It is my personal view that members of parliament should be given a great deal more time and' greater facilities in the use of radio, over local stations. As it is to-day, listeners hear comments and interpretations of news from people who, so far as we know, are not responsible to anybody. We do not know their politics; we do not know what they stand for; we do not know for whom they are speaking.

My impression is that commentators should be limited to the giving of actual factual news. If commentators are to be permitted to interpret that news and thereby to influence the thinking of the people of Canada, then the people should know exactly who is speaking and for whom he is speaking. Put a label on all commentators.

Radio Broadcasting

I could name one or two of them; in fact I do not mind naming two. I would refer first to Dyson Carter, a man who frequently speaks for the C.B.C.

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CCF

Alistair McLeod Stewart

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

Mr. STEWART (Winnipeg North):

Will the hon. member tell me when he spoke for the C.B.C.?

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SC

Norman Jaques

Social Credit

Mr. JAQUES:

I understand he does.

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CCF

Alistair McLeod Stewart

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

Mr. STEWART (Winnipeg North):

Your understanding is wrong.

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SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. JOHNSTON:

How do you know?

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CCF

Alistair McLeod Stewart

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

Mr. STEWART (Winnipeg North):

He did not speak for the C.B.C.

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SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. JOHNSTON:

How do you know; where is your proof?

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CCF

Alistair McLeod Stewart

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

Mr. STEWART (Winnipeg North):

He is not an official of the C.B.C.

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SC

Norman Jaques

Social Credit

Mr. JAQUES:

I never said he was an official of the C.B.C. I said he had facilities of the C.B.C., and I say he is a communist- even if he is not so labeled. He is a communist and when he was taxed with it he laughed and said, "Why, I was given the job by the government all during the war of saying these very things."

I might say that Matthew Halton is another. There is no label on him. But one has only to listen to him. One need not be very acute to realize where his sympathies are, and for whom he is speaking. I have heard him on more than one occasion, and there is not muen doubt about it. But the general public does not realize that. They hear a commentator over the radio and they take it for granted that he is absolutely unprejudiced. They say, "Here is the actual truth, not prejudiced or coloured in any way at all." Naturally they take it as authentic. A great deal of propaganda has been put over in that way.

My view is that, so far as broadcasting is concerned, the C.B.C. should confine its work on the radio to the news itself, and to entertainment. We cannot have too much good entertainment, including good music. But even there propaganda is used. I happen to be very fond of classical music. During the winter I listen to the philharmonic concerts from New York-never miss them if I can help it. I noticed that until Finland was taken over by Russia we heard quite a good deal of music by Sibelius. I have not heard any since Finland was conquered. Instead of Sibelius, we hear now Shostakovich. I do not pretend to be an authority on music, but I believe there are few people who, if given the choice, would prefer Shostakovich to Sibelius. Certainly I for one would not.

I would conclude by repeating the danger to which people are exposed by means of propaganda from men who are responsible to no one and who apparently speak for nobody. They make their comments as though they were absolutely unprejudiced when, all the time, they are making them purely for purposes of propaganda.

If the C.B.C. thinks my remarks are unfair, then they have an easy method of proving me wrong. I challenge them to do so. Grant any recognized Social Crediter the same facilities which have been granted to these

well, I call them reds, but you can call them fellow-travellers, if you like-and I will take my words back. But until that happens, I say that the C.B.C. has been used by communists as a means of spreading communist propaganda.

I object to this bill, which will increase the power of the C.B.C. I object to voting any more .money for radio monopoly.

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PC

Arthur Leroy Smith

Progressive Conservative

Mr. A. L. SMITH (Calgary WTest):

Mr. Speaker, in rising to discuss this bill, I wish to say this, that on the occasions I have been privileged to speak in the house I have each time found it possible and convenient gladly to commend some parts of the legislation then offered by the government. I am not in that position to-day.

I disagree with this report, in toto. I disagree with every page, every paragraph, every line, every word of it; I disagree even with the title. The title says that it is a report from the radio committee. It is nothing of the kind; it is a report from a few people, advocating everything suggested by the C.B.C.

[DOT]-and that under the leadership of the new leader of the Liberal party, who is not in the house at the present time, the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell).

Before approaching the various suggestions made in the report, I want to say that I have now been in Ottawa for two sessions and I have become acquainted with the man by the name of Bennett. It does not matter that I lived in the same town with him for thirty years, practised the same profession he practised, and that I have partaken of his bread and wine, and he has partaken of my bread-but not my wine. I have livedi in hotels with him; I have travelled with him, and I thought I knew something about him.

But I find I was all wrong. I come here to Ottawa, and I find that in almost ever}' debate, be the subject agriculture, the C.B.C., mining, or some other subject, our hon. friends opposite have always found something to quote from Mr. Bennett. The socialists to my left have always had something to say

Radio Broadcasting

and I have learned that he is not the man that I thought I knew, that he is a sort of ogre who has a baby as an appetizer before his dinner, who washes his hands in the red, warm blood of innocent children, and all that kind of thing. But when it comes to something like this they go back fourteen years and they quote Mr. Bennett. He is then Viscount Bennett, the great statesman. Frankly I am just a little bit fed up with it. If it had not been for the fact that Mr. Bennett was there from 1930 to 1935 many of them would have been mentally deficient in the contributions they have sought to make on many occasions to the debates.

Coming to this business of broadcasting, I want to begin by saying that during the sittings of this committee I had the pleasure of meeting a number of men connected with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Personally, of them and to them I say that I have never met finer people; I have never met men who were more seeking to do a good job of work in Canadian broadcasting. But it is the system under which they are acting that I express definite opposition to at the present time. Before the last sitting of the committee we were asked by the chairman to make suggestions, and I replied almost immediately with the following: First, that the committee should report against taking over the larger wave lengths in Manitoba, Ontario and Alberta and, second, that I was in favour of the committee, recommending that an independent tribunal should be set up to determine matters between the C.B.C. and the private broadcasters, the present regulations to govern such body with the right in that body to revoke or alter them.

I realize that this has been discussed already by a number of members. I am glad to see the Minister of Justice (Mr. St. Laurent) in the house, and I see a couple more lawyers over there at the present time. I want to ask him this question: It is admitted, even in the report, that the C.B.C. is in competition with private broadcasting; that is true and no one seeks to deny it; no one can deny it. What do we find? We find that that same body, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, with respect to its opponent is at once the policeman, the judge and the gaoler. That is a simple statement of fact which no one can and which no one dare refute.

To the hon. gentlemen opposite who practise the same profession as I do, or to the lay brethren over there like the hon. member for New Westminster (Mr. Reid) who is one of the best barbershop lawyers I know of, I put this simple question: Will some one

over there rise in his place and justify that

sort of thing? Will they, before this debate is over, please stand up and, on their honour as members of this profession, make some attempt to justify that terrible state of affairs, because I can use no other word?

I realize that, in an endeavour to make a distinction between broadcasting and railroading, Mr. Dunton said that broadcasting [DOT] was cultural; that is the only distinction he made. However, it is also commercial. The C.B.C. now seeks to take advertising revenue from the private stations, because that is the purpose of this new business. There is no other purpose; that is what it is seeking to do. Will someone justify to me that sort of thing? Will he merely say that it is just? It is so contrary to natural justice and every other kind of justice that I am anxious to see someone justify it.

I know it will be said that this report has not found against the contention that I make. What the report says is that it should be given further study by the C.B.C., further study by the Department of Transport, and that some other committee should deal with it. Never in any report of any committee of this house will you find such a straight dodging of duty. That is all it is. What further investigation can there be of the necessity for the removal of a great and complete injustice in this country. I want someone over there or over here to answer that.

I turn now to something else. The basis upon which these wave lengths are to be taken from these people is that somebody said so some years ago that and subsequent committees have confirmed that position. I asked Mr. Dunton if he thought the creation of this new network and the taking over of these stations would create one extra advertising dollar and his answer was "no". The net result and the sole purpose must be to take from the private stations advertising dollars already in existence. Then we have the hypocrisy of its being said that the C.B.C. intends to encourage private broadcasting. Not only is that nonsensical; it is an utterly dishonest statement to make in the report.

For a short time I intend to deal with my part of the country. This was done quite well by the hon. member for Macleod, (Mr. Hansell), and I am going to be quite brief. Hon. members will be glad to know I am going to be brief in anything else I may say. Out there we have station CFCN which puts out the best news broadcast I have listened to and which is sponsored by the Alberta wheat pool. That station is to lose its wave length. I would remind hon. members who were not members of the radio committee that to that committee came a friend of mine,

Radio Broadcasting

Mr. Marshall Porter. With him came three men, the heads of the largest agricultural organization there. They had held meetings with the heads of practically every agricultural or stock organization in Alberta, seeking to obtain a membership of 15,000 or 20,000 farmers to take over this station. They said they had their own. problems to discuss and they wanted to speak in their own language and be spoken to by persons who understood them. Talk about remote control! 'It is suggested that this control lie 2,000 miles away in Toronto or Montreal. That is what is to be done about the problems of people in Alberta who want to talk their own language and discuss their own problems. That is just silly beyond words.

Will someone over there tell me why the government want another 50,000 watt station in the city of Toronto when they already have one? What possible excuse-there is no reason, of course-can be given for the erection of a second 50,000 watt station in Toronto? What other coverage is there that they are seeking? They have another 5,000 watt station now, and they have the 50,000 watt station. The Elliott-Haynes report was referred to a while ago by the hon. member for New Westminster, and that shows clearly that CFRB is easily the most popular station there. Its record of public service is unsurpassed by any other station in the Dominion of Canada. That was proven beyond question. The record of our own station CFCN is a model of public service, and no one has been able to deny that.

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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

And public popularity.

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PC

Arthur Leroy Smith

Progressive Conservative

Mr. SMITH (Calgary West):

Clearly so. We have heard a good deal of criticism of private radio broadcasting. I know the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar has this book which I hold in my hand. It is called "Radio's Second Chance", and is written by Mr. Charles

A. Siepmann who was a former employee of the British Broadcasting Corporation, who came to the United States and is now a citizen of that country. He is a consultant with the federal communications commission which has to do with radio in the United States of America. We have had this book thrown at us a good deal, and it has a lot of virtuous things in it, but I am going to read one paragraph from it which has not been read by those people who oppose the private stations. It is on page 9 of the preface; it is written by the author, and this is what he says:

Nor does criticism of the abuses of the commercial system imply, by any analog}- whatever, that government monopoly broadcasting is a desired alternative. Ours is a system of free

enterprise within a framework of government controls, which is infinitely preferable. Radio organized by government has proved itself the most disastrous of all systems. No one who has lived in Europe could advocate that we should try that here.

So that when this man is being quoted let us remember that he also said what I have just read. That brings me to this.

I want to go right along with the hon. member for Lake Centre (Mr. Diefenbaker) in saying and repeating-and I said it publicly before the committee-that I am all in favour of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. It has done a splendid work; there is no doubt about that. It is a national instrument, and there is a great place for it. But if you go over its history you will find this. The Aird report upon which our radio law is based is an interesting document. I am not being critical of something that happened in 1929, because no one then could possibly have foreseen the advances that would be made by radio in this country. But I would point this out, that in the appendix to that report one can see the way in which people's minds were working. The appendix deals with Australia in eleven lines, and incidentally in Australia they have a national system and also a private system, but the national system in Australia does not carry advertising. They have made the clean break there which was suggested so clearly in the Aird report itself as the system which should be adopted in Canada. Australia gets eleven lines; Great Britain gets six; the United States, with 603 stations, gets 2i lines; the German system, which is a state-ownership system, gets twenty-four lines, and we know what state-owned radio did in Germany. It was the greatest instrument that Hitler had at hand, and he used it to debauch the German people and bring on this last war. Without radio, he could not have done it for one moment.

The Aird report goes on to say that perhaps to help out the situation until the thing gets on its feet the national radio system should have some indirect advertising, limited in amount, and that amount was fixed later by Mr. Brockington at $500,000 as the maximum to which they would ever go. We have heard the figures on that given by the hon. member for Lake Centre, and we know we have gone away beyond that. But I am not opposed to that. They needed the money. That is the simple answer. They had to have the money. They already have $4,000,000 odd from the people of this country, and the private radio stations do not get any of that. The national radio system have had that money and they need more. I am not blam-

Radio Broadcasting

ing them for wanting more or for getting more if they do that in open ordinary competition with people who have sunk their money and a good deal of their lives in building up audiences, for an audience is radio's stock-in-trade, just as a subscription list is the most valuable thing a newspaper has, because upon it depends the amount it will get from its advertising.

Let me repeat. Radio, from this Aird report and from subsequent reports of committees, was aimed and destined to be a service vehicle for the people of Canada. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation advertises that it now covers 94 point something per cent of the Canadian people-94 per cent. Then how in the world is the setting up of another network going to give them one more listener? It has reached the saturation point now- 94 per cent. Yet they come along and ask this parliament for 82,000,000. What for? To build these expensive stations-not to get another listener, not one-but in order to carry the 82,000,000, which at three per cent comes to $60,000 a year. They say they are going to pay it back, and the only way they can carry the loan and pay it back is by taking advertising now gathered up by the private radio stations. There is no other source of revenue.

So that when we consider whether or not we intend to approve this report I am anxious that all members of this house who, in times gone by, have suggested that they believe in individual enterprise should give some thought to that simple statement of fact which, once more, I defy anyone to contradict.

I am now going back to Alberta again, and perhaps some hon. members think I should go there and stay there. But I want to discuss our local situation.

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CCF

Thomas John Bentley

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

Mr. BENTLEY:

You are not going there this week, are you?

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PC

Arthur Leroy Smith

Progressive Conservative

Mr. SMITH (Calgary West):

That is

entirely in your hands. In Alberta we think we should be allowed to hook up the three private radio stations we have at Edmonton, Calgary and Lethbridge. They are almost in a line from north to south, though not quite. Why should we not be permitted to do that? We are not permitted to do that because C.B.C. just say no. It is utterly impossible for me to think of any reason why we should not have a little regional network if we want it. We are not interfering with anybody, not in the slightest. Yet you cannot get a wire in this country unless C.B.C. puts its imprimatur on your request.

I made the suggestion in the committee that rather than cost the taxpayers any more

money, the present transport commission should be the body which would deal with appeals of this kind, and it was suggested to me by the minister: Where would it get its law? Of course the railway commission gets its law from the Railway Act, and perhaps the Transport Act; I am not clear about that, I said: Let us appoint that board. They are not overworked; we all know that, and then put on the private broadcaster who is appealing, the onus of proving his position before the board. I even went that far in an endeavour to get something in the nature of an independent body. But the minister, as I say, suggested: Where would they get their law and jurisprudence? I said, "Let us take all the rules and regulations the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation have now, holus-bolus; take the whole thing; put the onus on the private broadcaster to have them altered and abrogated"; but there was no support for the suggestion going even to the extent which I have just indicated.

I wish to close with rather a simple statement, or perhaps I should put it by way of request. I realize that these wave lengths have to be filled by a given time-the spring of 1947, I think it is. My suggestion is this. Parliament is going to meet again in the third week of January; and may I impress upon the house that, once these wave lengths are gone, they have gone forever. It is not something we can patch up again at a later time; we are through. We must occupy these places, there is no doubt about that, and once we have done this we are completely filled. My suggestion to the minister is this. There are no great things to be done between now and the last week of January. You have already your material on order for the stations you intend to build. You know you cannot get it yet, but the time will come when this material can be obtained. So why not let this matter rest? Remember that all the Alberta members-I am glad the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. MacKinnon) is not here at the moment because he might not concur-at all events all of us who are here will agree that we do not want this thing; we are very happy the way we are and we want to be left that way. What is going to happen? They are going to build this station at Red Deer. What does that mean? It means that the Edmonton, and Calgary stations come off the network-that was admitted in the committee -and therefore the advertising revenue which they now have through a connection with C.B.C. is gone, just taken away from them like that! Someone may say that the private stations complained about the amount of the cheque they got for national advertising, most

Radio Broadcasting

of it from the United States. Let me frankly admit that the private stations would carry on for nothing if they had to, because we know that these United States shows are the things which build audiences. There is no use in fooling ourselves about anything of that kind; we all know that. We know we cannot have talent in this country. We know perfectly well that, once our talent is some good, it is gone. Look at the Canadians who are in New York, in Chicago, in Los Angeles now. Why should they not go there? Here they work for dollars a week; there they get hundreds of dollars a week. Clearly we are in this position, that these great nation-wide shows are what build audiences. So that these stations in our province not only will be deprived of the revenue they get from the C.B.C., which revenue at times, as we learned, does not pay operating expenses, but will have taken away from them the audiences which, through the years, they have built up.

I want someone in this House of Commons to try to justify treatment like that of people who have been encouraged to spend their money, people who have been seeking power increases many of which have been granted. I should like somebody to show the fairness of actions of that kind.

I have here one thing which I want to bring to the attention of members of the House of Commons, because there may be a little political turn to it after they have heard what I have to say. I have an analysis of editorials, from clippings of newspapers, on this subject up to July 23, 1946. I am not introducing something new; this is a record in the proceedings before the committee. The groups are divided in this way. In the western provinces the number of newspapers was fifteen; the number of editorials was eighteen; the number favourable to the private broadcasters' position was eighteen; the number unfavourable was none. In Ontario fifty-three papers commented; there were seventy-eight editorials; seventy-four were favourable and four were unfavourable.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING ACT
Subtopic:   CORPORATION TO RECEIVE LICENCE FEES- ADVANCES ON ACCOUNT OF CAPITAL EXPENDITURES
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August 24, 1946