When we look at various large media outlets, you must wonder if there is real diversity when it comes to programming?

In Canada, under the CRTC rules, Canadian broadcasters must include Canadian Content, however do they truly fulfill the requirement? Not only is Canadian content a requirement of licensing, it is the right thing to do.

When I looked at  programming for some outlets, we realized that diversity is not where it should be. There is some representation, but it does not come close to representation of actual communities. For example, Canada’s population is 37.59 million people as of 2019. According to the first pan Canadian survey on the 2SLGBTQ+ communities,  13% of the Canadian population identified as queer.  It basically suggests that 4,886,700 people in Canada are part of the 2SLGBTQ+ community.

Therefore, the survey shows us that 2SLGBTQ+ programming  should be at least 13% of all broadcasting, which by reviewing programming is far from the case. Even with the current programming, the majority of media outlets seem to believe that the 2SLGBTQ+ is just drag queens and fem twinks. We are not taking away from either group as they are part of the community, however, there is so much more.

How does anyone approach the big media outlets to help create content that truly represents diversity? In my experience you seem to need some type of representation that has a relationship with big media in order to be heard. How does this encourage diversity when you cannot even get in the room with the people that make content decisions? Shouldn’t everyone be afforded the same opportunity as any big show producer or big representation firm? Of course you should.

Why do we not hear more Canadian content on big media? Take Logan Staats for example, who is an Indigenous performer from the Sixth First Nations, and won The Launch on CTV. He is an incredible singer, but where do you hear his music or see his talent? YouTube? Spotify (Where anyone can upload a song)?.

Paul Manchin, is a Canadian singer / songwriter that is backed by Real World Music (Owned by Peter Gabriel), yet where do you hear his music or see his name on the charts? Who hasn’t heard of Bif Naked? She is one of Canada’s top 150 artists, yet where is the airtime in Canada featuring the amazing new songs she has coming out? Or Mackenzie Drive in North Bay, Ontario, who has gained a strong  local following, but you cannot hear their music being played locally.

Big media corporations talk the game about diversity, but the question remains, is it just talk? When will you or I be heard in a room of executives that run these huge media broadcast companies? There is hope for change.

In my experience, one of the most open conversations I had was with the OUTtv CEO and Programming director. They listened to a concept we had and were very open to hearing how to improve inclusivity. But it raises a serious question; why is it that a station with a focus on the 2SLGBTQ+ is the only one to seriously commit to showing 2SLGBTQ+ content? 

Hunter’s Bay Radio in Huntsville Ontario, is changing the airwaves (and internet radio) so that new Canadian content is featured, while many other stations just play the same old music from outside Canada. This is a station that is setting the new way we should be operating. Providing equal opportunity for all up and coming Canadian artists, as opposed to the few. 

INspiredMedia Inc is another space providing opportunity for those within the 2SLGBTQ+ community to share their stories and experiences. But again, it is another 2SLGBTQ+ organization supporting 2SLGBTQ+ content. 

It can be frustrating if you are trying to figure out how to get on big media? It;s not always about being famous either, as many folks just want to share, encourage, and inspire others, but they do not get the same opportunity as others.

We should be embracing a person of colour, people with a  different background and culture, and learning to grow our society for the better. Their background should never be a disadvantage, because when we disadvantage anyone, we all lose.

So….

  • When will big media give everyday people the opportunity to showcase their stories?
  • When will real community diversity be in big media programming?
  • When will the CRTC hold big media accountable for their content?

The time is now, not tomorrow, not next year, it is now. Talk is done.

About the Author

Geri Atrick is co-host of Str8 Talk, a show that focuses on marginalized & 2SLGBTQ+. Geri also organizes national events around music and the arts, is deeply passionate and active in politics, and is an advocate on many social justice issues. Giver her a little wine and you will never know what she will say. Check out the show at www.str8talk.ca