Between Canadians and Culture
The First Year of the CRTC
From: 1968 in Canada
This chapter considers the first year of the Canadian Radio-Television Commission, the country’s broadcasting (and eventually, telecommunications) regulator. The establishment of the CRTC in 1968 from earlier incarnations of broadcast regulators marked a recognition that media were becoming a more complex and sophisticated feature of Canadian society requiring more sophisticated forms of oversight. This was due to several developments loosening the CBC’s monopoly over television, the incorporation of private companies into the media landscape, and the development of new policy instruments aimed at supporting the development of film and television production as well as sound recording. In considering some of its early activities, this chapter shows the Commission’s early attempts to unify a media landscape now conceived as a mixed “system” featuring private and public entities working in a national interest understood both in economic and cultural terms. This power affords the CRTC a considerable public profile—particularly that of its commissioner—that is evident in news coverage from the first year of its operation that helped to construct its public image. The combination of the Commission’s decisions and media coverage during the first year of its operations are useful to foreshadow its long-standing role as both an institution that acts as a regulator of a complex media landscape and one that mediates diverse commercial, political, and social anxieties associated with the place of those technologies in Canadian life.
Ira Wagman is Associate Professor of Communication and Media Studies in