Canadian Protectionism in Broadcasting

Last Saturday I got a chance to watch the Canadian second season premier of Battlestar Galactica. Of course, if you live outside of Canada, you probably had the opportunity to watch that episode several months ago on the SciFi Channel. However, most Canadians are not so privileged.

You see, notwithstanding trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Canada Government negotiated exemptions for its “cultural industries”. That means that US companies like DISH Network and DirectTV are not allowed to offer their services in Canada. Sometimes the result is substandard access to programming. I mean, why should Canadian broadcasters bid for first run programming when the bulk of their market can be made to wait until they acquire cheaper re-runs. This has driven hundreds of thousands of Canadians to risk criminal sanctions in order to operate a grey/black market DirectTV/DISH Network receivers or to engage in copyright infringement by downloading episodes of their favorite programs from P2P networks.