Dear Prime Minister Harper,
The following press release outlines the reasons why we believe that Konrad Von Finkelstein has demonstrated he is no longer fit to chair the CRTC. We urge you to replace him as soon as possible.
Dr. Rose A. Dyson,
September 12, 2008
Contact: Rose A. Dyson Ed.D. Tel: 416-961-0853; firstname.lastname@example.org
For Immediate Release from Canadians Concerned About Violence In Entertainment www.C-CAVE.com
CRTC Chairman, Konrad Von Finkelstein, Should Resign
The decision announced by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission on August 15, 2008, to approve a Canadian pay-television pornography channel, involving at least 50 percent Canadian content, makes a mockery of its mandate. Vested with the authority to regulate and supervise all aspects of the Canadian broadcasting system, telecommunications common carriers, and service providers under federal jurisdiction by the Broadcasting Act, such a licence exploits the use of public airwaves by ignoring the needs and rights of all Canadian men, women and children. As public property, these air waves are intended, according to Section 3, subsection (1)(i), to provide a service essential to “safeguard, enrich and strengthen the cultural, political, social and economic fabric of Canada”. A pornography channel will do none of the above.
Konrad Von Finkelstein’s cavalier dismissal of public concerns about the harmful effects of electronic media renders him no longer fit to chair the country’s regulatory body. The Commission claims there were no objections at hearings in May. Where were these hearings held? In a closet? Why were they considered necessary at all? He should resign forthwith.
Clearly, an intervention made less than two weeks earlier, on April 23, 2008 at CRTC hearings involving the review of regulatory frameworks for broadcasting distribution undertakings and discretionary programming services, by the Honourable Norman Dyson, Q.C. and myself, on behalf of Canadians Concerned About Violence in Entertainment, Science for Peace at the University of Toronto, the Council on Global Issues at Ryerson University and the Canadian Voice of Women, was regarded as irrelevant.
Our intervention was precipitated by a decision announced in 2007 to eliminate all restrictions to advertising on television by September, 2009. Correspondence exchanges with former Minister of Heritage, Bev Oda, yielded the explanation that “no parties consulted had any objections to the plan”. We challenged the assumption on the basis that neither teachers, health professionals, feminists, peace activists, cultural and natural environmentalists nor media scholars, concerned about increasing financial, commercial and sexual encroachment into the lives of children, in particular, were included in the consultations.
Under Von Finkelstein’s leadership, the Commission is incapable of connecting the dots at a time when our increasingly media saturated environment is providing new and ever more pressing challenges. The direction in which he is leading the CRTC is diametrically opposed to the public’s best interest. The pledge to ensure that at least 50 percent of the content on this proposed channel is domestic is a further insult to the intelligence of the average Canadian. Is the public to conclude that Alberta-based Real Productions will then be eligible for tax credits and grants from our taxable incomes?
These kind of myopic, profit driven ambitions within the entertainment industries should not be sanctioned by the country’s regulatory body. They underscore exploitive tendencies of misplaced creative energy that are intolerable at any time. But now, when climate change, energy shortages and rising food costs are diminishing incomes for more and more Canadians, the curtailment of addictive and exploitive electronic entertainment is especially urgent.
We need officials in Ottawa who understand the challenges we face in the 21st century and who will chart a course for less consumer driven, reckless lifestyles. Denial of findings from countless studies demonstrating harmful effects of pornography, media violence and commercial exploitation, including those initiated by the CRTC, itself, is inexcusable.
In the past two years, other jurisdictions such as the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Italy have joined the growing list of countries who have adopted legislation modeled on that in the province of Quebec where advertising to children has been banned for over two decades on the basis of research showing harmful effects. Recent bans have occurred in response to growing concerns from health officials about obesity, heart disease, and juvenile diabetes from the sedentary nature of electronic entertainment and the marketing of junk food. These have added to earlier concerns about the proliferating ways in which pornography and violent electronic entertainment harm women and youth. Further pollution of our cultural environment is obviously irrelevant to Von Finkelstein. By choosing to engage in wilful blindness on a range of media issues, he has proven to be out of touch with current global realities and should make room for more effective leadership by stepping down as chairman of the CRTC immediately.
Rose Anne Dyson Ed.D.