Present at the Creation: The Telecommission Studies and the Intellectual Origins of the Right to Communicate in Canada (1969-71)

Aliaa Ibrahim Dakroury
Communication, Carleton University
April, 2008
 

Abstract

Present at the Creation: The Telecommission Studies and the Intellectual Origins of the Right to Communicate in Canada (1969-1971) explores the creation of the Telecommission Studies, and the production of its final report: Instant World in 1971. Although overlooked by Canadian scholarship, this dissertation argues that the Telecommission Studies pioneered the theme of “telecommunications and the people” as one novel attempt to change the Canadian communications public policy environment of the day, document its problems, and recommend a new perspective in the Canadian communications public policy discourses at the time by focusing on the concept of the right to communicate. Adopting a socio-historical approach, the dissertation begins with a critical examination of the different scholarly debates in the field of communication in an attempt to theorize the idea of the right to communicate within a group of intellectual threads—that vary from political, economic, public-policy, technological, and international studies. Then, it dissects the particular structure that existed in Canada during the work of the Telecommission Studies that helped creating a missed opportunity to sustain a new kind of public policy discourse focusing on the public interest and the right to communicate. With the use of textual archival records, newspapers, as well as in-depth interviews with key informants, the dissertation closely researches the Telecommission’s conferences, seminars, and reports, as well as offering a reexamination of the Instant World report that is often misinterpreted or overlooked in the Canadian communication scholarship. The dissertation finally argues that the work of the Telecommission Studies represents a serious yet a missed attempt to advocate a concept that public interest advocates and communication rights activists support and campaign in our present days, as a result of conflicting policy priorities, political agendas, and bureaucratic infighting—not to say a significant failure of imagination.
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We wish to acknowledge the financial support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for their financial support through theAid to Scholarly Journals Program.

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