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Teletoon - How it Lost its Way
By Pepperidge

In late 1997, someone at the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (or, the federally supported overblown bureauocracy known as the CRTC) decided that basic cable specialty stations lacked Canadian perspective. You know, seeing as how most of them were American. And thus, the word was spread: around twenty new licenses were made available for those with submissions worthy of the CRTC's oh so exalted approval. One of them was for a 24-hour all animation channel to replace the American Cartoon Network, thus leaving the station blocked off of Canadian airwaves through all receiving mediums: Teletoon - The Animation Station. Sadly, as most anime fans have slowly come to realize, what could have been a marvellous thing surpassing its American predecessor has slowly degraded into a mediocre showcase that is perfectly content with taking no risks whatsoever.

Although one of Teletoon's main objectives has always been to use a large portion of their inevitably vast revenue to fund original Canadian productions that exist for no purpose other than to satisfy their Canadian content broadcast quota of 60% as stated in their contract, there was one other statement in the application that was included to maximize their chances of being awarded the license that doesn't seem to get quite as much attention these days: the proposal to air Japanese animation So, despite the fact that the CRTC essentially blessed them devine legal obligation to air anime programming, why aren't they doing it?

You may recall that they did give it a shot back in the beginning. Striking up a deal with Manga Entertainment, Teletoon obtained the rights to several anime films, all of which they aired at somewhat reasonable hours uncut: Macross Plus, Wings of Honneamise, Patlabor, and Ninja Scroll. But why did they stop there? Well, according to this vintage article, they were quite vocal about making it perfectly clear that they had no clue what they were doing. According to then station president John Riley "We scaled back... we were a little more ambitious at the beginning of the year. When we do it, we want to do it well." But apparently, the time of doing in question still has not come, because the only show that can truly be defined as anime that the station has aired on their English feed in the past six years Megaman NT Warrior*, while the French feed has Digimon and Beyblade. For a station that pledged in its early years to delivery programming for all ages from around the world, that's beyond paltry.

But as futile as it seems, hope is becoming ever clearer on the horizon. Just this year, after the miserable failure of Teletoon Unleashed, resulting the block literally rerunning itself to death with its remarkably limited repertoire of Canadian made adult-oriented programming,
Teletoon had a slight adjustment made to their contract; the station's "peak hours", which they have to air 50% of their daily amount of Canadian Content, were changed from 6pm-12am to 3pm-10pm. However, the loophole arrangement was that Teletoon would only be required to air one hour of Canadian content between the hours of 8pm and 12am. For the first time ever, Teletoon has made space suitable for anime in their prime time schedule.

Also fortunate is the fact that Teletoon is more open to our suggestions that some may believe. They have set up a "Suggest-A-Show" feature on their "professionally designed" website which can be accessed through the "Talk" button in the upper left-hand corner. There, you can vote for any show you want as many times as you want. A lot of the reason Teletoon claims a lack of demand for anime is because the anime fan base in Canada, itself, just isn't all that vocal. (We complain, but we don't do anything about it.) Of course, the few that are vocal don't seem to realize that Teletoon's first foray into the world of anime should be something that would benefit them rather than being a complete and total risk, which is why fans shouldn't go suggesting random series' left and right.

Teletoon would more likely show interest in a show which has had its English language production done in Canada, thereby allowing it to score some CanCon points. And I don't think a more ideal show can possibly come to mind than Sunrise's latest successful addition to the endless world of Gundam: Mobile Suit Gundam SEED.

The show is perfect for Teletoon on many levels. Apart from being partial CanCon, it could easily be run uncut between 9-10pm with a 14+ rating. It carries enormous appeal for the 12-17 teen demographic, the audience which Teletoon has stated numerous times that they desperately want to reach, has market tie-ins coming out the wazoo, and will apparently have a French dub ready sometime this year. Not to mention that the show would be bound to make an even bigger splash here in Canada than in the US thanks to our obvious starvation over the past five years. They may as well use that to their advantage, too.

Even if you don't like SEED, I recommend voting for it. Numerous times if possible. It's a guaranteed hit and, after all, if their first anime isn't successful, what incentive would they have to continue persuing more shows?

For more information, please visit my website, Zannen, Canada, at:

And thus ends my 2 AM ramble.

*I'm not counting Cardcaptors. Apart from being the worst dub in the history of the North American anime industry, the show is altered to the point that it can be considered an entirely different production altogether. Also, just in case you weren't sure, Cybersix was not anime. It was a massive scale, but ultimately half-baked, Canada-Japan co-production between Teletoon and Tokyo Movie Shinsha. Apparently they haven't spoken since.

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Published on: 2004-07-17 (16040 reads)

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