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


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.

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