The Public Eye

The Public Eye: Television and the Politics of Canadian Broadcasting, 1952-1968

Frank W. Peers
Copyright Date: 1979
Pages: 475
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/j.ctt2tv5qf
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  • Book Info
    The Public Eye
    Book Description:

    Frank Peers has unearthed a remarkable quantity of new material - from government documents, CBC records, interviews with key figures, and the records and manuscripts of a number of principals - and woven it into a fascinating and authoritative account of the state's involvement in broadcasting during these troubled and changeful years.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6481-4
    Subjects: Technology, Business, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. PREFACE
    (pp. v-viii)
    F.W.P.
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. CHRONOLOGY
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. xiii-2)

    When Canadian television began in 1952, it was grafted to the system of radio broadcasting that had evolved over a period of thirty years. The structure of that system was ungainly. Its foundations were set in the 1930s, when national objectives were declared and a public agency created to carry them out. But compromises were built into the system, not only in the governing act passed in 1936, but more strikingly in the policy choices and operational decisions taken in the years between 1936 and the early 1950s. In those years the government had perforce to decide how broadcast services...

  6. 1 CANADIAN TELEVISION: BEGINNINGS
    (pp. 3-28)

    In 1952 television arrived in Canada’s two largest cities almost simultaneously – the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation opened its Montreal station, CBFT, on September 6 and its Toronto station, CELT, on September 8. Programs were transmitted in English and (over the Montreal station) in French as well to an area that contained about a fifth of Canada’s fourteen million inhabitants. Two years later, by the end of 1954, television service was available to three-quarters of the Canadian population, through seventeen privately owned stations and seven CBC stations. All carried a complement of network programs in Canada, as well as imported programs, chiefly...

  7. 2 A NATIONAL SERVICE
    (pp. 29-54)

    The Montreal and Toronto television stations opened on schedule, but hardly to the huzzahs of the press. The newspapers sensed a good deal of popular interest, and some (for example, the TorontoTelegram) published a special section before the station’s opening. But the editorial writers and columnists of the English-language papers were cool. In Montreal the news pages of theGazettetrumpeted, ‘Montreal First to Get “Home-Grown” Television’ (a slight condescension there?), but the lead editorial on the day of CBFT’S opening was suspicious of the new arrival:

    In Canada the coming of television has been unusual. From the start...

  8. 3 THE FOWLER COMMISSION, 1955-1957
    (pp. 55-91)

    When the Massey Commission reported in 1951, the government of Louis St. Laurent may have assumed that the position of the CBC as regulating authority for Canadian broadcasting would be settled for some years ahead. After all, the commission’s report had merely recommended continuance of the set-up that had been in existence since 1936, and it did so in laudatory terms. The majority of the commission were ‘convinced that the existing Canadian system of broadcasting has served the country well in the past and offers the greatest hope of national unity and enlightenment in the future.’ They urged only that...

  9. 4 A TURNING POINT
    (pp. 92-114)

    ‘With the publication of the Fowler Report, we have reached an important turning point.’ Don Jamieson was speaking in Halifax to a meeting of the broadcasters of the Atlantic region, but his words proved applicable to the broadcasting system as a whole.¹ Dated March 15, 1957, the report was tabled in Parliament on March 28, a day when Prime Minister St. Laurent was in trouble with opposition parties over a critical letter he had written some months previously to the CBC chairman, A.D. Dunton. The propriety of St. Laurent’s action received much more attention in the House of Commons than...

  10. 5 A NEW GOVERNMENT, A NEW BILL
    (pp. 115-151)

    Before the Fowler Report, it often appeared that two of the four parties represented in Parliament – the Liberals and the CCF – supported the existing broadcasting system, and the other two parties, the Progressive Conservatives and Social Credit, opposed it. From this divergence in party positions, some made the rough translation that the Liberals and the CCF supported the CBC, and that the other two opposition parties supported the CAB. In 1953, during discussion of the broadcasting act, one of the CCF members, Joe Noseworthy of Toronto, said of the Conservatives and Social Credit: ‘The two political parties who are today...

  11. 6 THE BROADCASTING ACT, 1958
    (pp. 152-175)

    The bill revealed to the House of Commons in first reading on August 19, 1958, was to effect a fundamental change in Canadian broadcasting policy – the first substantial change since the CBC was established in 1936. Indeed, the policy change was more fundamental than that of 1936. In that year the national broadcasting agency had changed in form from a government commission to a crown corporation with increased guarantees that it could act independently of the government of the day. But the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission (CRBC) established in 1932 and the CBC established in 1936 had similar functions, so...

  12. 7 A ‘SEA OF TROUBLES’: THE CBC FROM 1958 TO 1963
    (pp. 176-214)

    From the passing of the broadcasting act to the defeat of the Diefenbaker government, the CBC had an uneasy time. The standards of programs did not change markedly, though tight budgets restricted the number of television variety and drama programs, and a number of highly skilled writers, performers, and directors left Canada to pursue their careers in other countries, particularly England and the United States.¹ Some would have done so regardless of the opportunities in Canada – artists often want to win an international reputation, or work where the challenges are greatest, or earn higher fees. In the early sixties, the...

  13. 8 THE BBG’s ‘MOST PRODUCTIVE’ YEARS: 1958-1963
    (pp. 215-261)

    Reviewing his ten years as chairman of the Board of Broadcast Governors, Andrew Stewart has described three periods in the life of the BBG: the first from November 1958 to April 1963; the second to mid-1966 and the issuing of the government’s White Paper; and the third from July 1966 to March 1968, when the BBG prepared for the new dispensation.¹ It was the first period that he regarded as the ‘most productive.’ It was also the period when the BBG and CBC seemed most combative.

    Following the proclamation of the 1958 legislation, the board, unlike the CBC, began its...

  14. 9 ADVICE TO THE PERPLEXED LIBERALS
    (pp. 262-282)

    The election on April 8, 1963, again resulted in no party having a clear majority, but the Liberals now had the largest representation, with 129 seats in the House of Commons compared to the Conservatives’ 95. The NDP won 17 seats and Social Credit 24, but with evident disunity among the Social Credit members, John Diefenbaker delayed his decision to resign. Eventually, Lester Pearson was called to Government House, and on April 22 his cabinet was sworn in.

    The 1958 broadcasting legislation had carried out the Progressive Conservative party’s pledge to remove private stations from the control of the CBC...

  15. 10 THE SYSTEM IN THE MID-SIXTIES
    (pp. 283-304)

    The broadcasting system that the Fowler committee investigated in 1964 and 1965 was considerably changed from the one that had come under Fowler’s scrutiny in 1955 and 1956. Aside from the different agency of control and regulation, the balance had shifted between the public and the private components. This becomes evident from an examination of statistics relating to the number of radio and television stations in 1956 and 1965, their network affiliation, and operating expenses for the CBC and the private sector in 1955 and 1963. By 1965 the dominance of the public sector, which had been a cardinal principle...

  16. 11 FROM THE FOWLER COMMITTEE TO THE END OF ‘SEVEN DAYS’
    (pp. 305-351)

    During the fifteen months of the Fowler Committee’s inquiry, neither the BBG nor the CBC could stand still. Before continuing the story of the committee’s investigations and report, we should review each agency’s operations in the changed political conditions that followed the Liberal party’s victory in the spring of 1963, how they responded to the varying demands made of them, and what kind of support they received from the government or Parliament.

    On September 24, 1964, in answer to a question from Mr. Diefenbaker, Prime Minister Pearson revealed that Dr. Stewart had notified him ‘some time ago’ that he did...

  17. 12 THE WHITE PAPER AND THE 1967 BROADCASTING COMMITTEE
    (pp. 352-382)

    From january 1966 to the last months of the Pearson administration in 1968, the secretary of state and her department were engaged in an intensive effort to prepare new broadcasting legislation and to see it through the various stages of parliamentary consideration. This chapter will trace the government’s procedure in reviewing the second Fowler report, and the representations made to it by the interested agencies and groups, leading to the production of a White Paper on broadcasting in July 1966. Before it could be referred to a committee of the House of Commons for review, other developments in broadcasting interposed...

  18. 13 THE BROADCASTING ACT, 1968
    (pp. 383-412)

    While the white paper on broadcasting was under review in and outside the House of Commons, other preparations were being made in the BBG and in the office of the secretary of state, particularly for a new federal agency to meet the demands for educational television. The man who was asked to plan this undertaking was Pierre Juneau, the newly appointed vice-chairman of the BBG. Judy LaMarsh had persuaded him to leave his previous post with the National Film Board in Montreal on the understanding, as she later wrote, ‘that if he worked out well I would do my best...

  19. 14 EVOLUTION OF THE BROADCASTING SYSTEM IN CANADA
    (pp. 413-440)

    By September 1968, television in Canada was sixteen years old. The rapid expansion of cable systems in the 1960s brought new problems to the fore, but policies to deal with them had to be formulated within the context of institutions and legislation already in place. This is still so. The structures and ways of thinking which had evolved not only in the television years but during the previous radio decades may themselves have to be changed if the needs of the 1980s are to be faced.

    In 1968 radio broadcasting was entering its fiftieth year. The first radio station XWA...

  20. BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE
    (pp. 441-444)
  21. APPENDIX
    (pp. 445-448)
  22. INDEX
    (pp. 449-459)