A Brief History of Canadian Television

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Danger Bay

Ready or Not

Canadian Television

In 1949, the Canadian Government decided that it was in the best national interest for television in Canada to be essentially Canadian. As a result, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) was encouraged to, and did produce often spectacular and purely Canadian productions. The CBC had the monopoly of Canadian television programming between 1952 and 1962, the golden age in Canadian television. When the Canadian government began to grant licenses for private stations, competition necessitated Canadian content quotas. These regulations were, however, very poorly monitored and as a result accusations of mediocrity and failure to encourage Canadian talent were levelled at private stations who often produced painfully bad Canadian shows or scheduled only Hollywood-produced shows during prime time.

Where Canadian Television is Now

By the end of the 1980s, 98% of Canadians had television and 2 out of 3 had cable. Yet in the mid-1980s Canadians spent most of their time watching American programs. With the debate about national identity certain shows have aimed to redefine Canada and avoid simply copying American standards. Although there is much more competition now from our southern neighbours than there was a decade ago, Canada is finally beginning to hold its own in quality television programming with series such as North of 60, Road to Avonlea, Emily of New Moon, Wind at My Back, and the wildly successful Traders, as well as shows with multi-faceted appeal like Ready or Not, (some episodes directed by Allan King) and This Hour Has 22 Minutes.

© 1998 Laurie Warden