Canada's Broadcast Act: Subsidizing Violence

By Rose Dyson | 2021-01-01 11:00:00

There are some serious omissions in Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault’s long overdue amendments to the Broadcast Act, introduced on November 3, 2020. The failure to address the growing crisis on the internet amounts to a dereliction in the government’s duty to protect.

It appears that social media companies like Facebook and YouTube will remain free to continue promoting illegal content like sexual abuse imagery and terrorist recruiting techniques along with misleading political advertisements that now pose grave threats to democratically held elections. But one of the most egregious omissions in the Broadcast Act involves the video game industry.

Research indicates that the video game industry has largely overtaken both the music and film industries combined in annual sales. That reality alone indicates that it ought to be subject to the same kind of oversight and regulatory requirements for support and financial contributions as any other streaming service such as television, film, or music.

But in addition to providing support for Canadian content, it should contribute to the mental health and social costs involved in treating the addictions and behavioral predilections to violence, bullying, misogyny, racism and murder that result from endless online gaming.


Instead, generous tax subsidies continue to be made to support an industry that is frequently reported as one of the best stock options on the market because, like tobacco, video games are addictive.

Following his murderous rampage in 2019, the New Zealand gunman’s mother explained that he had become obsessed with computer games from very early age. He said that the video game, _Spyro the Dragon 3 _, taught him “ethno-nationalism” and Fortnite taught him to be a killer.

Fortnite now rakes in around $US 250 million per year as the most popular online first-person shooter video game in the world. The game, _Grand Theft Auto Part V _ involves a narrative remarkably similar to the rampage that took place in Nova Scotia in February 2020 that killed 22 people.

The mandate in the Broadcast Act is to provide media content that is in the public interest. The government has an obligation to ensure that industry marketing practices are consistent with established safeguards. For too long the popular culture industries have been the exception.

While tax subsidies are provided for the video game industry, the taxpayer picks up the tab for the health and social costs these pollutants impose on the cultural environment. Just as carbon emissions must be curbed and reduced, so must the commercial exploitation of the young and vulnerable among us.


Parents are being urged to reduce their children’s screen time, which has skyrocketed with the arrival of COVID. Even before the pandemic, it was estimated that over 23 million people in Canada alone identified themselves as gamers.
Some of the most recent studies indicate that excessive gaming leads to, among other things, brain damage in growing children involving memory loss and other cognitive impairments.

The Entertainment Software Association of Canada says the industry is a “success story” and has thrived without government oversight. That is hardly a justification for government exemption from regulation.

Ignoring the harmful effects that this industry has injected into the worldwide cultural environment is not an option. Ubisoft, maker of the _Assassin’s Creed _ series, which is known to fuel terrorism and other hate crimes with the help of the Canadian taxpayer, has sold millions of copies around the world. The proposed bill is not good enough and needs to be sent back to the drawing board.

Rose Dyson is author of Mind Abuse: Media Violence and its Threat to Democracy and president of Canadians Concerned About Violence in Entertainment (CCAVE).

Peace Magazine Jan-Mar 2021

Peace Magazine Jan-Mar 2021, page 21. Some rights reserved.

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