March 8, 1955

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Murdo William Martin

Mr. Marlin:

May I ask my hon. friend which body in this country is independent of soap?

Topic:   BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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CCF

Robert Ross (Roy) Knight

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

Mr. Knighl:

My hon. friend reminds me of an advertisement which appeared in Punch. I recommend this to the Minister of National Health and Welfare for use in his clean-up campaign. This showed an old whiskered tramp who was saying, "Last year I used Pears' soap and since then I have used no other". I do not know whether my hon. friend would put me in that category.

Topic:   BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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PC

Walter Gilbert Dinsdale

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Dinsdale:

Who airs the soap operas in Canada?

Topic:   BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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CCF

Robert Ross (Roy) Knight

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

Mr. Knighl:

Am I also not allowed to criticize the C.B.C.? I am ready to criticize any program which contains too much commercialism. Of course the C.B.C. will say they have to get the financial wherewithal.

IMr. Knight.]

I am hoping that under the new set-up-I am appealing to the C.B.C. on that basis-we will not be victimized so much by having these commercial programs, that we will have more of these sustaining programs, if that is the right term.

I prefer to have the choice of programs in the hands of a body such as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, which is under the control of this parliament, rather than in the hands of commercial interests whose sole motive, or at least whose main motive, is that of profit.

These are some of the reasons I support C.B.C. policy, and why I support this government in this particular operation. I cannot be accused of doing this too often, and it is perhaps a refreshing change for me to be able to rise and not be opposing the government. May I say that I get much more satisfaction from being a member of the opposition. My hon. friend opposite who is sitting waiting to make a smart remark will probably tell me that I shall have that experience for some time. However, I have anticipated him.

I emphasize again that whoever is to control television in this country must be responsible to this House of Commons, as far as I am concerned. We now have a system of public control with the regulation of private stations. We do not want to have a repetition of what has happened in radio and television in the United States, where the programming is largely in the hands of the advertisers and is controlled by them.

I could take time to speak about the development of Canadian talent. I feel certain that under the present arrangement a good many more people will be trained to sing, act and perform in other ways. These are the kind of things people like to hear on the air and see on the screen. More people would be trained in this way than under another system.

The private stations, of course, have been increasing their power. I think possibly there should be some criticism of the C.B.C. in the committee due to the fact that the private stations have perhaps been allowed to increase their power too much. I would remind you, sir, that the increased power and wealth and the increased operation which they are enjoying have come about by an act of grace and not by any right. One only has to study the Radio Act to discover that this is true. I do not propose to argue the point because I do not know enough about the technical aspects of it, but they have been allowed to increase their wave lengths and have been given more power than they had before. I would repeat that

they "have these privileges by an act of grace and not by any right given to them under the Radio Act.

I believe my opening words were to the effect that I have lent general support to the C.B.C. and to the government in respect of its operations. But I suggest there should be no smugness on the part of the minister, the government or the C.B.C. itself. We shall be watching in that committee for any tendencies, as I suggested, to deviate from the path of public control. We shall ask, I hope, critical questions. We shall endeavour to insist upon efficiency in operation in return for support from public funds. We shall hope the operations will be carried out in accordance with the policies laid down by the minister in his speech, parts of which I have already quoted.

Topic:   BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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SC

Ernest George Hansell

Social Credit

Mr. E. G. Hansell (Macleod):

I was rather hoping that the hon. member for Saskatoon (Mr. Knight) would continue to speak and consume a little more of the time left before adjournment so I would not have to start on the quarter hour.

Topic:   BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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CCF

Angus MacInnis

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

Mr. Maclnnis:

Generosity.

Topic:   BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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SC

Ernest George Hansell

Social Credit

Mr. Hansell:

I would like to be able to finish my speech by five o'clock, and I do not like to ask permission to adjourn the debate. Would you care to call it five o'clock, or shall I proceed?

Topic:   BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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Some hon. Members:

Proceed.

Topic:   BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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SC

Ernest George Hansell

Social Credit

Mr. Hansell:

I am glad that once again we have an opportunity of carrying on this debate concerning Canada's radio policy. We are happy that a special committee on radio broadcasting is to be set up at this session.

I have listened to the previous speakers with great interest. I listened to the Minister of National Revenue who is sort of a liaison officer between the crown corporation, the C.B.C., and the government, but I do not think I gained anything that was particularly new from his remarks except' that he did bring us up to date on the achievements of the C.B.C. in respect to television.

I listened to the hon. member for Eglinton (Mr. Fleming) who made, I think, a critical but good analysis of the present radio situation in Canada with respect to the C.B.C. I also listened with interest to the hon. member who preceded me, the hon. member for Saskatoon. I always enjoy his speeches, but I must say that he has followed the same line the socialist party of Canada has followed for a good many years in respect to radio policies. It is quite obvious that he is a great supporter of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the policy it follows today. He follows in the footsteps of his leader and of

8, 1955

Special Committee on Broadcasting those in the C.C.F. party who have spoken at any time concerning this matter. They all follow the same line.

I have criticized the C.B.C. in the past and have felt that it has had socialist leanings in regard to its policies generally. I have said that before and I say it again. The fact that our C.C.F. friends to a man lean over backward in supporting the C.B.C. is a dead giveaway. As a matter of fact, the minister listens and appears to me to sit back with a good deal of satisfaction as the C.C.F. appear to be throwing the Liberal spitballs. When asked a question, my hon. friend from Saskatoon rose and with great gusto asked if he did not have the right to criticize the C.B.C. Of course he had that right, but what was his criticism? The only thing he criticized were the soap operas. Well, I do not think the soap operas are as bad as all that. I do not listen to them very often, I must confess, but my wife does and I believe a lot of old women do, but even if they do-

Topic:   BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

You had better straighten that out in a hurry.

Topic:   BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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PC

George Randolph Pearkes

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Pearkes:

What a brave man you are.

Topic:   BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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SC

Ernest George Hansell

Social Credit

Mr. Hansell:

I was not referring to my wife.

Topic:   BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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PC

George Randolph Pearkes

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Pearkes:

Now you are trying to hedge.

Topic:   BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

Whose wife were you referring to? [DOT]

Topic:   BROADCASTING
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SC

Ernest George Hansell

Social Credit

Mr. Hansell:

I am very proud of my wife. She is a very charming lady.

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Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear.

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Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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An hon. Member:

So are we.

Topic:   BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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SC

Ernest George Hansell

Social Credit

Mr. Hansell:

I like to see her sit back with a good deal of satisfaction and listen to the soap operas. What is wrong with the soap operas? Is there anything particularly wrong with them? I do not listen to them. I think they are a lot of nonsense. They play on the heartstrings and contain a lot of sob stuff and revolve around the eternal triangle and that sort of thing. Seldom, however, do you find excessive drinking scenes in the soap operas. Seldom do you find bloodthirsty murders taking place in the soap operas. I do not think they are such terrible things after all. If that is all hon. members find to criticize I do not think the criticism is particularly well founded. I suggest that if the soap operas carried the same commercials but consisted of cleverly designed plays slanted toward the left, the hon. members would be praising them as among the greatest programs on the radio; yes, sir.

I should like to speak along a slightly different line this time. I shall perhaps be a bit philosophical in my speech this afternoon and this evening. As a basic question I

Special Committee on Broadcasting should like to ask what is the purpose of radio and television? I wonder whether we have ever faced up to that question and answered it. I think the purpose could be broken down into three divisions. I am going to mention three anyway, for the purpose of analysis. I am not mentioning them necessarily in the order of their importance. One of the purposes of radio and television is to entertain. Another purpose is to impart information and factual knowledge. If you like you can turn that phraseology around and say "factual information and knowledge". Another purpose is to guide and to encourage cultural activities. When you have said that I think you have just about answered the question as to the purpose of broadcasting.

Of course it costs money to broadcast, and naturally it may be a lucrative field. That depends on where the station may be located, the scope of the radio advertising that can be handled and all that sort of thing; but it cannot be done for nothing. I suppose it might be said that some people are in the business of broadcasting because it is a profitable business. But the actual answer to the real purpose of broadcasting-and I think this should be the policy of the C.B.C.-is to entertain, to impart factual information, understanding and knowledge and to guide and encourage cultural activities.

Let me analyse those three purposes for a moment, Mr. Speaker; and may I say that I am only giving you my own philosophical reasoning on the matter. First of all, suppose the purpose is to entertain. In that respect might I say that I believe television is gradually superseding radio broadcasting. That fact may not be too obvious at the present time but I believe that, apart from music that is tuned to the ear, there is perhaps no greater medium of entertainment than either live stage entertainment or that which may be observed over television. Television is a powerful medium. It is perhaps the most powerful medium devised by man for advertising and entertaining.

Right here might I say that this is where the local stations are so important. They are important because all people do not necessarily enjoy the same type of entertainment. I think we should do our best to localize entertainment, and to give the people the type of entertainment they want in their various localities. That does not, of course, do away with network radio broadcasting and television, because there are some types of programs that are enjoyed by everyone. But I believe we do a great service to this country if we pay special attention to broadcasting and television over local stations for the particular enjoyment and entertainment

of local audiences. There are differences in communities. Some communities are perhaps composed predominantly of certain ethnic groups. We do not all enjoy the same thing. We do not all look upon entertainment in the same light or give equal value to all types of entertainment. I therefore say we must pay special attention to the value of the entertainment angle of broadcasting and television on the local level.

In the second place, I stated that I thought one of the purposes of broadcasting was to impart factual information and knowledge. This is a subject upon which I have very definite convictions. Of course nobody knows everything and nobody has all the information. That is why we must analyse as accurately as possible just what we might mean by freedom of expression. I have listened to a good many talks that have been given on the networks of the C.B.C. over the years. I think we can conclude without any argument that opinions are not necessarily facts, but very often opinions can be so stated that they appear to be facts.

I note that Mr. Speaker is looking at the clock, and I might as well break off here as anywhere. I would therefore ask you, Mr. Speaker, to call it five o'clock.

On motion of Mr. Hansell the debate was adjourned.

Topic:   BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

CCF

Harold Edward Winch

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

Mr. Winch:

Mr. Speaker, do I understand

that we are to convene here at 5.30?

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
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March 8, 1955