The use of the air, or the air itself, whatever you may please to call it, that lies over the soil or land of Canada is a natural resource over which we have complete jurisdiction under the recent decision of the privy council. I believe that there is no government in Canada that does not regret today that it has parted with some of these natural resources for considerations wholly inadequate and on terms that do not reflect the principle under which the crown holds the natural resources in trust for all the people. In view of these circumstances and of the further fact that broadcasting is a science that is only yet in its infancy and about which we know little yet, I cannot think that any government would be warranted in leaving the air to private exploitation and not reserving it for development for the use of the people.
I submit that if that argument was sound 22 years ago-and it was-it is equally sound today, when we are considering the future of television. And I am happy to say that the father of the Minister of Veterans Affairs, speaking for the opposition of that day said:
I just wish to endorse the views expressed by my right hon. friend the Prime Minister and to say that I am in full accord with the principle embodied in this bill. I have been supporting this principle from the first more particularly after the work of the Aird commission, but I knew the difficulties in the way and the strength of the propaganda carried on to prevent the work of that commission from having the results which we witness today.
And the leader of this party at that time, the late Mr. Woodsworth, said:
I should just like to associate myself with the last speaker (Mr. Lapointe) in congratulating the Prime Minister on his promptness in bringing down this bill to implement the report which has been unanimously adopted. May I further express my own very great appreciation of the admirable statement which the Prime Minister has made?
As the hon. member for Hamilton West said correctly this afternoon when the leader of this group was speaking, and when he regretted that the C.B.C. was not able to sponsor "Singing Stars" but had to leave that to a private corporation, the private corporation could deduct from income tax the cost of those broadcasts, which meant that in the long run the Canadian taxpayer did pay for the broadcasts.
I hope that the parliament of this country will make adequate funds available to the C.B.C. so that the goal Mr. Bennett had 22 years ago for radio will be realized for television. I represent in parliament over 50,000 people. We have no radio station there and we have no television either. I hope we shall not have to wait until the free enterprisers decide that it is a profitable field in the country for expansion before our people will have the privilege of having television programs.
I believe the people of Canada collectively have to provide those services for the people. I see no reason why we cannot, through our publicly-owned C.B.C., carry out the principles Mr. Bennett outlined 22 years ago when he suggested the airwaves belonged to all the people and all the people should have the advantages that those in the cities have.
Before I ask one or two questions of the minister I should like to comment on what has just been said. I would say first that everything that was outlined by Mr. Bennett 22 years ago has been done, but that the world does move. In 22 years new problems and new situations arise, and I feel rather proud of belonging to a party that does not have to be sterilized and remain absolutely as it was 22 years ago. We are prepared to progress, and as a matter of fact I do not understand that there is any considerable body of people in this country today who deny that there is a place for the private broadcasting stations, just as we have proclaimed and affirmed that there is a great place for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
In this connection a good deal has been said about the wise remarks made by the head of the C.B.C. with regard to the allimportant question of freedom and of choice. I should like to contribute a small extract from a speech made by . a man whose name I think is now well known, Malcolm Mugge-ridge of London Punch. It is quoted in Time of August 3 last, and it is very relevant to the question of freedom and of the rights of minorities which we have been discussing, and which I think has become much clearer in the last 22 years than it was at that time. It has become much more-what shall I say -vital to us and much more precarious than it was then, too. These are extracts from a letter that Muggeridge wrote, as I say, appearing in Time:
Badio, you consider, is too potent an influence to be allowed, like printing, to be under private control . . . Private television companies, you argue, because they must look to advertising sponsors for their revenue, would necessarily be guilty of vulgarization and distortion to serve their own base interests. On the other hand, the B.B.C. may be relied on to sustain elevated standards. Let us see how the system has worked in practice.
In those disastrous years prior to September 1939, you will recall, one notable voice was never heard from Broadcasting House; a voice which, in 1940
when it was almost too late, was able to summon up endurance and courage. How wonderful it would have been if this voice, Sir Winston Churchill's, had been heard on the air warning of the wrath to come. The corporation, however, would not have it because of Britain's appeasement policy. I would myself cheerfully have put up with hours of Mr. J. Fred Muggs-
I am not quite sure who Mr. Muggs is. He is evidently a well-known prize bore.
I would myself cheerfully have put up with hours of Mr. J. Fred Muggs for such a deliverance as Sir Winston Churchill would have provided from the B.B.C.'s bromides.
Freedom, it seems to me, lies not so much in objectivity, which is largely beyond human realization, as in variety. Those who appear regularly on B.B.C. must be prepared to blow their trumpets or sound their cymbals or scratch their violins in accordance with the corporation's baton. Whether the music is good or bad. there is one orchestra with one conductor, following one score, and this state of affairs is both unhealthy and dangerous.
I suggest to the hon. member for Mackenzie that whatever wisdom there is in this is wisdom that we have learned in the last twenty years by reason of certain dangers that were undreamt of twenty-two years ago.
I continue to read briefly:
Last year, during the Republican convention in Chicago, I sat with my head in a television set for four days. The convention coverage could not have been better done. There was not the smallest sign of partisanship. At intervals a personable young lady appeared to recommend a particular brand of refrigerator, but when her appearance would have interrupted a dramatic development, it was postponed. According to the fatuous mythology of the Left, the sponsors should have been Taftites. If so, there was nothing to give the smallest indication that this was the case.
Most of the British newspapers have put up a particularly hilarious performance. They do not want to lose advertising to commercial television. They have therefore discovered all sorts of high-minded reasons for preserving in the case of the B.B.C. a monopoly which, in any other field, they would denounce. Then there has been the unforgettable spectacle of politicians rising up to explain how their sensitive natures recoil from the vulgarity of commercial radio. It is rather as though Moll Flanders, confronted with the possibility of finding herself alone with a gentleman friend, should have fainted right away from shyness.
Does anyone suppose that if the Elizabethan theatre had been under public control it would have produced Shakespeare? Mr. Justice Shallow in all his many guises would have greatly exerted himself to, as it were, keep Sir John Falstaff off the air.
I have read that, Mr. Chairman, because it seems to me a voice pointing us to realities. I think the reality of the situation is that we should have C.B.C. strong and able to render the service it is rendering, but why
should it be necessary to go back 22 years when the problem was different? The problem then was to be sure that there was a C.B.C., and it was done and it has gone on and we have supported it. But entirely new conditions have arisen which, as I say, I think carry the judgment of the people as to the propriety also of the private stations to give the local services.
Having said that I want to ask the minister some questions about the statement of income and expenditures which we have. I have in my hand a report of the corporation to March 31, 1953. I have no doubt the minister has figures available up to March 31, 1954, and if so they might be helpful.
I have just a brief question or two that I should like to ask the minister in regard to the matter of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. It has been brought to my attention that a situation occurred, and the type of situation that I will deal with in a moment could occur only in western Ontario, the Toronto area or in Quebec in the thickly populated parts of Quebec. It is my understanding that owing to C.B.C. regulations it is quite impossible for two or three or more privately-owned radio stations to broadcast programs simultaneously. The situation I am referring to arose in connection with a privately-owned retail store, which I believe wished to put on a live program in one of the areas of western Ontario. The city from which it was intended to broadcast was in the centre of quite a large agricultural area. Since a fair number of people came from the outlying areas the idea was conceived that other small cities equipped with radio stations might carry the program at the same time. Naturally, it costs money to employ live talent. This program could have been broadcast simultaneously from two or three other adjoining small cities with radio stations. But apparently the request was turned down as it was considered that this would constitute the setting up of a private network.
Now having had some legal training I realize that statutes have to be put in force to deal with matters such as the setting up of networks in opposition to the ones that have been approved, but it would seem to me that this type of situation was not envisaged by the people who drafted the C.B.C. regulations. When the minister makes his statement I would like to hear some comment on this situation because it does not seem reasonable or exactly fair.
There have been a number of remarks about programs this afternoon and this evening in regard to the C.B.C. Quite frankly I personally enjoy a very great many of the programs put out by the C.B.C. For example, C.B.C.'s "Wednesday Night" is a particularly fine program, and I think the carrying of the Metropolitan Opera albeit from the United States and financed by the Texaco Company, which comes through on Saturday afternoon, is a fine thing also. But I think the C.B.C.'s "Wednesday Night" is produced by the C.B.C. itself. I think the C.B.C.'s "Wednesday Night" program is a very good example of a very high cultural effort enjoyed by a number of people, but I think the number of people who listen to the C.B.C.'s "Wednesday Night", compared with the number who do not listen, would astound the minister. In fact, only a small percentage of the people actually listen to it.
I am not criticizing this effort for indeed the program is an excellent one, but I am simply pointing out that it is very difficult to foist culture on people if they do not wish to listen to it. It might be argued that the people should listen to it, but they will not listen to it if they do not like it, and I am sure there is very little can be done about it.
Now, regarding the other programs that come through, the C.B.C. did carry at one time on Sunday afternoons a program of the New York philharmonic orchestra. This was one of the so-called cultural programs which did have a very wide audience, and was widely enjoyed by a great many people. I think I can say quite truthfully that if I have had one I have had more than 50 people asking me to find out some time or other why this program was no longer carried over the air on a Sunday afternoon. This program was heard for many years, and indeed it is one of the oldest programs on radio. However, for some reason or other it is no longer carried. It may be it is carried on some of the C.B.C. stations, but I know it is no longer carried over CBL which is the principal station heard in Toronto and western Ontario, an area which is one of the most thickly populated parts of the country.
As regards the programs carried on TV, I would just like to make a few comments on one which was carried last evening over CBOT Ottawa. It was a very interesting production of Richard Strauss's opera "Salome" which represented a very high cultural experience. It is very pleasant indeed to see operas produced over the air,
Supply-National Revenue but I cannot say that I think that particular one was the best that could have been given. Those who are familiar with the biblical story of John the Baptist and Salome, and there have been several operas done on this theme, will know that this one is particularly gruesome. I happened to see it last evening and there were a number of people watching. At the end of the opera the young lady in question, after doing the dance of the seven veils-and it was quite agreeable-takes the head of John the Baptist and proceeds to carry it around by the hair, and she fondled it rather considerably.
I do not intend to bring any levity into this matter. There were a number of people there quite near me who said they had to get up and leave. It was rather unpleasant to many people. I would just like to mention these things. Many of the programs are good but I think the minister might direct the staff to pay a little more attention to some of the programs produced both on TV and on the C.B.C. radio. Sometimes what is considered culture by some rather high-minded people in these offices is sometimes considered by the ordinary person to be rather offensive. I see, Mr. Chairman, it is almost ten o'clock so I will conclude my remarks at this juncture.
Mr. Chairman, this debate this afternoon, as usual, has been very interesting. We have heard words of criticism and words of commendation with reference to the C.B.C. To those who have extended commendation I am grateful, as well as to those who have offered criticism, because we can all learn from criticism. However, some of the criticism and some of the statements made were wrong in terms of fact, and I want to put on the record this statement with reference to the one made by the Leader of the Opposition.
He made the statement that the C.B.C. has a duty to carry out government policy. That statement is not correct. According to statute the C.B.C. is not an instrument of government to carry out government policy, but on the contrary is supposed to carry out independently the will of parliament in accordance with the C.B.C. act. It is to parliament that the C.B.C. is responsible, and that is the reason-oh, yes. The hon. member for Greenwood shakes his head. Let him read over the Canadian Broadcasting Act and he will see to whom they are responsible. They are not responsible to the minister and they are not responsible to the government. They are responsible to parliament and that is the reason we have the biannual meetings of the radio committee.
The hon. member for Eglinton, in criticizing the government before he left for Toronto -and we might expect of course, that he would give that criticism and then-
The hon. member complained the committee was not held this year. I might point out that the committee concluded its final hearings last year early in May, and brought in its report on the 9th of May. However, in that regard I will go so far as to say that we will welcome the setting up of the committee on radio at the next session of parliament, and that will be one of our very first duties.
The hon. member also complained that we had not the annual statement for the year 1954. But our fiscal year ends on March 31 so that we have had about eight or ten weeks in which to prepare an annual statement, have it audited, and presented to the house. There is no commercial organization of a type similar to the C.B.C. that can have a statement ready within six or eight weeks after the end of the fiscal year, have it audited, and bring it before the shareholders. That statement will be given in due course.
Meantime, I want to make this statement with reference to our finances. Revenues and expenditures for the period ending March 31, 1954, are approximately the following: on sound radio we get a government grant of $6,250,000, and excise tax income amounted to $5,057,000; commercial revenue has been $2,471,000 and miscellaneous about $314,000, so that the receipts on sound radio have been $14,092,000. Our operating expenditures were $12,486,000 and depreciation and obsolescence amounted to $515,000. We therefore have an operating surplus on sound radio for the year ending March 31, 1954, of $1,091,000.
Now, on the television side the excise tax revenue has been $11,700,000, and commercial revenue, which is very good for the time we have been in operation, amounted to $1,334,000. Miscellaneous revenue is about $48,000. Our expenditures, operating, are $7,326,000. That leaves a balance of $5,756,000. As against that we have written off for depreciation and obsolescence $425,000, leaving a net operating revenue of $5,331,000. As I stated this afternoon, that will be used for further capital expenditures along with this amount of money of $3 million if the committee passes it.
The hon. member for Eglinton was critical of our finances and he was critical of
our policy. I should just like to bring to the attention of the committee what the policy is as set out in a statement which I made on Monday, March 30, 1953. I had previously made a statement on December 8, 1952, in which I mentioned six centres in which Canadian Broadcasting Corporation television stations were to be established immediately and indicated that applications would be received for private stations to serve other areas. This will answer the question of the hon. member for Macleod. Any town of 25,000 or 30,000 can make application for a private television station and they are likely to get it because it would not be one of the areas that are what might be called pre-empted by the C.B.C. I pointed out that under the plan the private stations licensed would carry national program service of the C.B.C.-that is one of the stipulations- besides having time for programming of their own. I said also, as reported at page 409 of Hansard of December 8, 1952:
Since the objective will be to extend services as widely throughout Canada as is practicable, no two stations will be licensed at the present to serve the same area. A television station can serve only a comparatively small area. Canada is very large and it will require a good many stations before television can be brought to the people in most parts of our country. It is desirable to have one station in as many areas as possible before there are two in any one area.
I suggest that that is a very simple and practical policy. These words make it clear that it was not the policy of the government to create monopoly in television or to limit any one area indefinitely to one television station. The principle of one station to an area is to apply only until an adequate system is developed.
-it may not be long before there is a sufficient degree of national coverage to justify the government and the C.B.C. giving consideration to permitting two and perhaps in some cases more than two stations in certain areas. It is anticipated that, in due course, private stations will be permitted in areas covered by C.B.C. stations,
Supply-National Revenue and the C.B.C. may establish stations in some areas originally covered by private stations. The ultimate objective of the C.B.C. is to have at least one station in every province of Canada where that is practicable. We understand that private applications have been under development in the five provinces where no C.B.C. station is now under way.
Of course, this was the condition back in 1953, over a year ago. I just want to state to the committee and to the country that the policy of the government with reference to licences is the same today and will continue to be the same for a further period as it was when we initiated it on March 30, 1953.
I think it was the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar who asked-