I’m kind of awestruck by Dwayne Winseck’s latest post, “The Growth of the Network Media Economy in Canada, 1984-2010.” Maybe I’m reading the wrong people, but it has to be one of the most substantive blog posts I’ve ever come across. Read it for yourself, but basically Winseck has created a new dataset in order to estimate the size of the Canadian media economy. My work only focuses on a subset of that economy (copyright), but it’s certainly true that Canadian communication policy seems to be driven more by anecdote and political argument than by what some might call “evidence.” Winseck’s findings themselves are pretty fascinating:
- Canada has the ninth-largest “media economy” on the planet.
- Far from decimatting the media economy, digital technologies have contributed to a boom in this sector.
- Between 2000 and 2008, all parts of the media economy grew, except music and newspapers.
- The picture looks bleakest for newspapers, but even here ad revenue and readership rose in 2010.
- Even the (slight) decline in the music sector may not be that significant (in a policy sense), as production and distribution costs have also declined.
Putting it all into perspective:
This should serve as a bit of a reality check for those all-to-ready to accept that the television, music, newspaper, or book industries are teetering on the brink of calamity at the slightest whiff of troubles on the horizon, i.e. ‘cord cutting’, increased subscriptions to Netflix, or drop in advertising revenue. For two recent examples, see here and here. Just for the sake of argument, even if Netflix gets $8 per month for each of its million subscribers in Canada, that’s $96 million dollars a year in revenue, or .6 percent of the total for all segments of the television industry. Of course, that’s nice if you can get it, but it is a mere drop in the Canadian television bucket, and hardly worth revamping the rules for, as many entrenched interests would like the CRTC to do.
Indeed. Winseck’s work won’t banish interest-driven policy reform from the halls of government, but policymakers now have one less excuse for getting it wrong.