ACTRA Protests Canadian Broadcasters, Does Anyone Care?

actra protest global tv

While many assume the biggest surprise from yesterday’s Global TV UpFront was Adrian Pasdar’s beard (Did his character really blow up in HEROES May finale? Or is he secretly preparing for a guest spot on CAVEMAN?), this TV Addict was more taken aback by the mob of protesters that had organized in front of Massey Hall prior to the start of yesterday’s event.

The protesters, it turns out are members of ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) and were out in full force to voice their displeasure with the way in which they believe Canadian broadcasters are neglecting the Canadian television industry.

“Canada’s private broadcasters are eager to hand over more than $250 million dollars on new American dramas and reality shows, when they should be investing in new Canadian dramas in their own backyards,” said Richard Hardacre ACTRA’s National President. “They spend millions of dollars on American shows in what amounts to an annual crap shoot that pays out few winners.”

actra protest global tv

Amidst this horde of actors were notable TV stars including Peter Keleghan, Gordon Pinsent, Shirley Douglas, Colin Mochrie and Wendy Crewson.

“We’re here to say that they [the networks] have a responsibility to the Canadian public out of the millions and millions of dollars they make from advertising, by showing American shows, to put some back into Canadian content.” explained Wendy Crewson, “We need to hear our stories, we need to see our people and our stories on the airwaves during prime-time hours.”

Yet the question remains, do Canadians care if our broadcasters produce original Canadian content or are we content with simply enjoying the same great shows as our American friends? Needless to say, this TV Addict could care less about telling ‘our stories’ and here are a few reasons why.

actra protest global tv

1. What exactly are ‘our stories’
It seems whenever the big Canadian broadcasters pony up money to tell ‘our’ stories, we’re left with generic sub-par versions of shows that are already being done better down south. What’s so ‘Canadian’ about Global’s BLUE MURDER (a generic cop show)? THE ASSOCIATES (think GREY’S ANATOMY with lawyers)? Or the biggest culprit of all, THE MIKE BULLARD SHOW (think Jay Leno, but less funny and even worse guests). Original Canadian content should be the responsibility of the CBC (Canada’s Broadcasting Corporation), isn’t that why they’re getting our tax dollars?

2. “We need to see our people on the airwaves during prime-time hours.”
‘Our’ people, meaning Canadians are all over the airwaves. Not only do numerous hit shows currently film in Canada — see SMALLVILLE, SUPERNATURAL, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, THE DRESDEN FILES, STARGATE, THE FLASH, EUREKA! to name a few, they’re populated with hundreds if not thousands of Canadian talent both in front of and behind the camera. Add to that the Canadian stars who’ve made a name for themselves down south, I’d say Canadian talent is doing just fine.

actra protest global tv

3. “Our broadcasters have decreased their spending on Canadian drama by almost $12 million over the past year,” says Stephen Waddell, ACTRA’s National Executive Director.
There’s a reason for that — nobody watches Canadian dramas. Memo to Mr. Waddell. If given the choice between NBC’s HEROES or Canada’s REGENESIS, what do you think the majority of the Canadian public is going to watch? Why should the networks be forced to spend money on shows that nobody cares about?

4. Why is Wendy Crewson protesting?
Does anyone else find it hypocritical that Wendy Crewson of all people is protesting against American content? Mrs. Crewson, have you taken a look at your imdb page lately? Have you noticed how much money you’ve made off American movies and television series? Refresh my memory — were you outside protesting at the Global TV UpFront the season you starred on 24? Didn’t think so.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Canada and love living in this country. Weather aside — be it social issues, health care and everything in between — we do almost everything better the United States. But let’s face it, America’s greatest export is Hollywood, and the one undeniable fact is that nobody on earth does television better than the USA. Isn’t it time we give them credit for something?

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  • Cory

    As an American I watch some canadian shows: Trailer Park Boys, Charlie Jade (well canadian and south african and needs a second season which is doubtful), slings and arrows, regenesis.

    All of them are quality in their own respects. Though TPB has been declining in quality as of late.

    These shows are a complement to my normal diet of television and are of higher quality than some of the Hollywood shows I watch.

  • Cory,

    Just to clarify, I’m not against Canadian Television. I just think its ridiculous to pit American Shows directly against Canadian shows on primetime television. Showcase does a great job of marketing TRAILER PARK BOYS. CTV with DEGRASSI and INSTANT STAR as well as CBC with recent hits CORNER GAS, LITTLE MOSQUE ON THE PRAIRE and THE TOURNAMENT.

  • It’s TV and not the Olympics. I don’t care if a tv show is made on the moon. If it’s a good show I will watch it no matter what country produces the show. Would be silly for me to say “well I won’t watch the original Office or the upcoming Meadowlands because I will only support American TV”. I think it’s just as silly to say well lets take five american shows and five canadian shows to the airwaves. You take the best 10 shows no matter who makes them or you are going to cheat your audience out of quality TV.

  • seat42f – well said.

    TV is the ultimate reality show. America (or Canada) votes by tuning in. If your show’s good, it stays on the air, if it’s not — it’s gone. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if many Americans think DEGRASSI is actually an American show, not realizing that it’s filmed entirely in Toronto.

  • isn’t the 4400 a Canadian production show as well?????

  • Erica

    Cancelling drive starring (Canadian) Nathan Fillion was clearly an act of a far-reaching anti-Canadian conspiracy.

    Bring back Drive!

  • rtms

    I think it’s a combination of spending and quality shows. Corner Gas, Degrassi, Robson Arms are all good quality shows. If the Canadian broadcasters were to spend 470 mil dollars on developing original [ not watered down or copycat US shows] I believe Canadians would tune in. When only 70 mil is actually spent on CAN shows, it’s apparent originality is the first thing to go. Why should the consumer have to pay big cable/sat fee etc if all the broadcasters are going to do is spend it all on buying up US shows? Don’t get me wrong I like many US shows, but I also enjoy quality Canadian ones when done right and well.

  • tdot

    I am a canadian, But dare I say that US T.V shows are miles better than any canadain program todey! . SO think that it was so uselss to go and protest!

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  • Same around the world, here in the UK our television is being very Americanised unfortunately, can’t see classics like only fools and horses ever breaking through onto schedules now days