Globalization has introduced various features to the current economic development of Canada. Henceforth, the modern economy is mainly driven by the knowledge-economy whereas culture and media play a major role in economic development. On the other hand, the operations of the media and other cultural industries are dominated by both public policies and the needs of private developers. Unlike other traditional industries, the media and cultural industries are mostly driven by ideas as opposed to capital injection. Furthermore, media and cultural industries are a product of political, economic, social, technological, and cultural issues. The reliance on creativity sets the media and cultural industries apart from other aspects of the Canadian economy. Most of the resources that drive the media and cultural industries are global in nature and they come from various parts of the world including America and Europe. The two major stakeholders in the media and cultural industries are the public sector and commercial distributors of culture. The public sector includes the government through its institutions and policies, while the commercial players in the media and cultural industries are media houses, film producers, theater companies, and music distributors among others. Internationally, there are policies that seek to address the issue of inequality in respect to imbalances and unfair usage of cultural resources by the leading industry players. Most government policies in Canada seek to harness the conservation and distribution of culture. On the other hand, “culture is finding a route to the market through various media channels” (Hesmondhalgh, 2013, p. 34). In the current economic environment, the interests of both governmental and commercial forces in the propagation of Canada’s Media and Cultural industries should be understandable to both entities.
The emergence of digital technology has had a big impact on the way government policies affect cultural industries. One author notes that in modern times, “cultural industries have moved closer to the centre of economic action in many countries and across much of the world” (Hesmondhalgh, 2013). Government policies are mostly aimed at manipulating the country’s economic forces. Consequently, cultural industries have become a ‘high stakes’ arena for the government. Currently, the agents of the cultural industry are some of the most visible economic drivers in Canada. Cultural industries are no longer considered ‘secondary’ economic drivers and both the government and commercial players are aware of this development. On one hand, the government is looking up to countries whose gross domestic product (GDP) features a significant input of cultural industries such as the United States and the United Kingdom. On the other hand, the commercial players in the cultural industry are relying on the government to institute policies that will enable them to compete on a global front. For instance, very few Canadian-produced films have been able to compete with the American blockbusters. However, the cultural industries of both Canada and the United States bear striking similarities. Hesmondhalgh considers the cultural industry to be part of the ‘real economy that produces goods of high value’ (2013). Therefore, the cultural industry plays a central role in the economic development of Canada. The mutual interaction of both governmental and commercial forces translates into overall benefits for the economic wellbeing of the country. Developed countries are leading in the quest for integrating the interests of the government and the private sector in regards to cultural industries.
Several aspects of cross-cultural relations are important when examining the relationship between public and private sector in relation to media and cultural industries. The relationship between both government and commercial entities in Canada can be improved by the mutual understanding that the cultural industry is subject to both continuity and change. Hesmondhalgh notes that the number of small and medium-sized businesses that are entering the business of culture is on the rise (2013). Canada borders the world’s biggest cultural economy- the United States. Consequently, most of the factors that apply to the media and cultural economy of the United States are also important to Canada. Canada’s close proximity to the United States brings up the issue of cultural sovereignty (Wagman & Urquhart, 2012). The government is tasked with the duty of ensuring that the country’s cultural sovereignty remains intact. Furthermore, the government wishes to avoid conflict with the commercial forces that are responsible for the dominance of the United States’ culture. It is important to note that some publicly funded entities such as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the National Film Board are key institutions that can influence both the commercial and non-commercial aspects of the cultural industry. For instance, some broadcasters use ethnic languages in their broadcasts. Consequently, the issue of cultural sovereignty would be of outmost importance to ethnic broadcasters. On the other hand, ethnic broadcasters assist the institutes that are tasked with the preservation of culture. For instance, ethnic broadcasters reverse the effects of the cultural erosion that is associated with the incursion of foreign culture. Nevertheless, the role of ethnic broadcasters in regard to economic-sovereignty often overshadows these broadcasters’ efforts to maintain cultural-sovereignty. It is important for both the governmental and commercial players to recognize the role that is played by both entities when it comes to maintaining cultural sovereignty. In some instances, both the commercial and public sectors blame their counterparts for the declining cultural sovereignty in Canada. For instance, government organizations such as the National Film Board are blamed for not furthering the agendas of the Canadian cultural industry. On the other hand, commercial film entities in Canada are often blamed for favoring Hollywood productions over local ones.
The role of policy in regards to the relationship between government organizations and commercial players in the media and cultural industries is important. The role of governmental organizations as implementers and regulators of policies often puts them on a conflict-path with commercial forces of the Canadian media and cultural industries. In Canada, there are several levels of policy legislation including the provincial and national regulators. Shtern lists some institutions of policy in Canada including “regulatory agencies, consumer protection ombudsmen, government departments, private consultancies, courts, and multilateral organizations among others” (2012, p. 169). Nevertheless, unlike in the past policy issues go beyond the local spheres. Currently, some major policies that apply to media and cultural industries in Canada are governed by international forces. The government is starting to align its policies with international policies that are beneficial to the cultural and economic welfare of the local industry.
In his book, “The Cultural Industries”, Hesmondhalgh argues that “cultural industries have become more and more significant in local and urban social policy as a means of regenerating economies and providing competitive advantage over other cities and regions” (2013, p. 89). Consequently, both commercial and governmental players have a stake in the development of local media and cultural industries. Local economies can be built around the concept of the culture that dominates a certain locality. Culturally unique industry clusters can be created in regions that have dominant aspects of culture. In the course of this semester’s cultural studies, the issue of creative industries was covered. Creative industries are often created through a collaborative effort between commercial and governmental players. For instance, the Ontario regional economy is dominated by the creative industries that produce an annual GDP of over twelve billion dollars. Media and creative industries are a good option when it comes to the creation of economic clusters. The government and the commercial sector can both benefit from the revenue that is collected from the cluster economies. An example of a cluster economy is Austin, Texas a town whose economy is built around the culture of music. Currently, Austin’s music industry has created over eighteen thousand jobs and it produces an annual revenue of $1.6 billion. In addition, music and its affiliated cultural economy have made the city of Austin a big attraction when it comes to tourism and talent attraction. Commercial players in Canada have suggested that the Austin model can be used to transform the economic and cultural fortunes of Ottawa. One report suggested that the music potential of Ottawa can be realized when “a small group of Ottawa’s music organizations, funded by the province’s Ontario Music Fund” works together (Shtern, 2012, p. 173). A better relationship between commercial and public sectors in the music industry can lead to improved cultural and economic outcomes. Studies have shown that successful economic clusters such as the one in Austin, Texas depend on the collaborative efforts of both the government and the private sector. It is also important for both the private and public players in Canada’s media and cultural industries to work towards a common goal.
Both the private and public entities in Canada’s media and cultural industries should be aware of the changing technological landscapes. New technologies have enabled large US-based media companies such as Netflix, Amazon, and Apple to have far-reaching effects on Canada’s cultural industries. The global nature of the technology that is used by these companies presents the Canadian regulatory authorities with a significant challenge. For instance, Netflix competes with local Canadian television networks in terms of programming but it is not governed by the regulations that apply to other companies within the country. The benefits of lax policies also extend to companies that are affiliated to the government. For example, most entities in the video game industry are beneficiaries of state-initiated subsidies. Some of these entities are formidable commercial forces in the video game industry. It is important for both public and private sector entities to review their position in regard to emerging global market leaders such as Amazon and Netflix. On most occasions, other factors such as the need for keeping up with technological advancements overshadow the effects of new companies on Canada’s cultural industries. In future, it is likely that the benefits that are accrued from emerging technology platforms will also be accompanied by some challenges. Changing technology should not push either the private or the public sector to make quick decisions without conducting the necessary research.
Most of the political issues that are pointed out by commercial players in Canada’s media and culture industries are conflicted by other forces. Commercial players often blame the government for instituting counter-productive policies or for hampering free trade in the cultural industry. However, a closer look into history reveals that the media and cultural industries in Canada are a product of big economic and political events in history (Wagman & Urquhart, 2012). For instance, the pressures that resulted from the post-ford capitalism and other neo-liberal market forces are responsible for the current status of the telecommunication industry in Canada. The other major dilemma in the regulation of cultural policies involves the categorization of culture as a product or a commodity of national interest. If the government organizations regard culture as a commodity then their influence on the said commodity should be minimal under the spirit of capitalism and free markets. On the other hand, if culture is categorized as a commodity of national interest, the government should put reigns on its trade thereby putting its organizations on a collision course with commercial entities. Therefore, it is apparent that minimal conflicts between the government and other commercial forces can be achieved through an amicable consideration of the nature of media and cultural industries.
Canadian media and cultural industries will continue to be defined by various market forces and public policies. In addition, the success of these industries lies in the ability of the private and public sector players to come to a mutual understanding regarding their dynamics. Cultural industries no longer operate on the peripheries of Canada’s economy but they are major economic drivers. The cultural sovereignty of Canada is also an important factor in the relationship between private and governmental forces of the media and cultural industries. When there is mutual understanding between commercial and governmental forces, it is possible for micro economies to be built around the concept of culture. In future, the interests of the government and private entities in regard to cultural industries should be clear.
Hesmondhalgh, D. (2013). Cultural industries 3rd Edition. New York: Routledge.
Shtern, J. (2012). Media divides: Communication rights and the right to communicate in Canada. Ontario, Canada: UBC Press.
Wagman, I., & Urquhart, P. (Eds.). (2012). Cultural industries. ca: Making sense of Canadian media in the digital age. Ontario, Canada: Lorimer.