Cable companies and stealing.

Marc Bernard took issue with my suggestion that Canadian cable companies are stealing content. Referring to the Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Committee (CRTC) site, Marc makes a good case based on the definition of signal substitution:

During the Super Bowl, for example, Canadian broadcasters sell advertising time to be included in the Canadian feed of the program and replace the ads Americans see at home. This permits Canadian stations that buy the exclusive rights to air the Super Bowl in Canada, to benefit from the sale of commercial advertising during the airing of the program.

Of course I wasn’t trying to watch the Canadian feed; I was trying to watch Fox, something I had no problem doing when I used to live in St. Catharines and didn’t use cable.

Now Marc may be too young to recall how cable companies got their start:

Take cable TV. Like Napster, cable was born as a commercial enterprise devoted to making tons of money by "stealing" other people’s content. Twice the broadcasters took this "theft" of their freely broadcast content to the Supreme Court; twice the Supreme Court said it was a matter for Congress. It wasn’t until 1976 that Congress finally resolved this "theft" by passing legislation designed to strike a balance between broadcasters and cable.


While broadcasters and copyright holders were entitled to compensation for their content, the right to compensation did not have to mean the broadcaster’s right to control. Cable providers had to pay for what they "stole," but they had, under Congress’ law, a fundamental right to steal.

Myy cable company has a fundamental right to steal, so I’m not that far off the mark in my suggestion.

Let’s look at the CRTC mandate:

Our mandate is to ensure that programming in the Canadian broadcasting system reflects Canadian creativity and talent, our linguistic duality, our multicultural diversity, the special place of aboriginal people within our society and our social values.

Hmmm. Super Bowl. Not very reflective of Canadian culture.And all of the products offered for sale in the US commercials are available in Canada. I own an Audi. I eat Doritos, and occasaionally drink Budweiser. So the only reason for substituting a Canadian signal is to guarantee the profits of the Canadian broadcaster.

I don’t see "guarantee Canadian broadcaster profit" in the CRTC mandate.

Ok, maybe Marc is right and "stealing" really isn’t the right term. How about I just say that I, as a cable user, was discriminated against, since had I been using an antenna I would have been able to watch the show I chose to watch, rather than the show I was forced to watch, by order of the government apparently.

Of course then I would be saying that the cable company stole my freedom of choice, wouldn’t I?

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