August 23, 1946 (20th Parliament, 2nd Session)

SC

Ernest George Hansell

Social Credit

Mr. HANSELL:

We are going into committee on the bill, and I will give my hon. (riend the page and the line that I referred to and read the question and answer exactly as it was asked and given. I say that a private radio station must have an audience. Suppose there were two great networks on the air, one broadcasting Fibber McGee and Molly, and the other Lux Theatre. Perhaps they are both on the same network to-day. But suppose two great networks were broadcasting two popular programmes like that. How many people do you think would tune in to the local station to hear perhaps the local piano teacher putting on a recital, with her little junior pupils playing the piano? How many people would listen to that programme?
It is true that the radio corporation can say to the private stations: We are giving you a licence; you are still in business. But that is not. the thing. I know what will be said. It will be said that radio broadcasting has always been under parliamentary scrutiny, that the C.B.C. acts upon the recommendation of parliamentary committees, and that parliamentary committees have confirmed this and that policy over the years. When it is suggested that the policies of the C.B.C. are likely to become hard-and-fast, as immutable as the laws of the Medes and Persians, the cry always goes up from the radio officials: Succeeding radio committees have the right and the power to recommend changes. That is so in theory, but it is not so in practice.
Suppose, for instance, there should be a change of government, and there will be some day. I do not know when, but it is a foregone conclusion that the government that is in is on its way out. It must be. I do not know how long it will take, but that must be so. Then suppose another government takes office and changes the policy with respect to radio broadcasting. They may say: "We believe that there should be two networks on the air and that one of these networks should be absolutely controlled by the private stations. We believe in a separate regulatory body." A committee is set up and, the majority on the committee being members from the government side of the house, the committee brings in a report that changes the whole radio picture. Would you say, Mr. Speaker, that that government would not be accused of political interference? Certainly they would. It is all very well to say that the C.B.C. is run on the recommendation of parliamentary committees, and that the operations of the corporation and its regulations are under parliamentary scrutiny and can be changed any time parliament sees fit. I say again that may be so in theory but not in practice.
I have not much time left. I have a few more things to say when the bill is in committee. In conclusion, let me say there is not the slightest doubt in the world that there is a radio monopoly in Canada under government ownership. My hon. friend the member for Rosetown-Biggar, who is championing this bill, I should not say more ably but as vigorously as the minister himself could, is against monopoly, so I understand. I believe I have heard something to that effect from my hon. friends who sit immediately to my right. I have a press report here of the recent C.C.F. convention in the province of Saskatchewan, and I find that Professor Scott made a speech to the convention in which he said:
This Canada we live in, despite all that was promised during the war, is still dominated, except in Saskatchewan, by monopoly and private profit.
Mr. David Lewis, the national secretary of the C.C.F. also spoke, acording to the report in the press:
The same note ran through the national executive's report read by David Lewis, national secretary. " The report stated that monopoly was "king in Canada," that it was dictating national policy.
Further on in the report I find this:
National Leader M. J. Coldwell told the convention that the return of the country to private enterprise "is subjecting Canada to economic and social problems which could have been avoided if a proper system of democratic planning for reconstruction had been introduced."
Here are three men, one talking against private enterprise and the others deploring monopoly in Canada. Let me ask the leader of the C.C.F. or his deputy leader or the deputy to the deputy leader, or whoever of them wants to answer it, this question: Is there a monopoly in radio networks in Canada to-day?

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING ACT
Subtopic:   CORPORATION TO RECEIVE LICENCE FEES- ADVANCES ON ACCOUNT OF CAPITAL EXPENDITURES
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