August 24, 1946 (20th Parliament, 2nd Session)


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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