Should Canada Have an International Broadcaster?
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This chapter explores the role of international broadcasting services as forms of public diplomacy in the Internet era. It takes a contrary position—that Canada does not need an international broadcasting service—as a thought experiment for considering the communicative components of public diplomacy practices. It takes this position by pointing to the chequered history of broadcasting in Canada as being a technical achievement of stitching together a vast nation, and at the same time it has been a source of endless handwriting and technical tinkering in the face of domination from foreign services and internal disputes associated with ownership, control, and regulation. Moreover, it argues that the characteristics we typically associate with these services—propaganda, imperialism, soft power—are at odds with the forms of communication that have been essential to Canada’s diplomatic efforts. Finally, I suggest that the emergence of new platforms has now distributed the diplomatic power once located with international broadcasting services towards politicians and other foreign service workers, like Ambassadors. Thinking in these terms is of value for a greater appreciation of the relationship between various modes of mediated communication and the practice of public diplomacy.