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"the Fulton Sheen Affair: Religious Controversy, Nationalism, And Commercialism in the Early Years of Canadian Television, 1952-1958" (Report)

Historical Studies 2009, Annual, 75

Historical Studies

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In 1952, Bishop Fulton J Sheen was arguably the most recognizable cleric in the English-speaking world. With a television audience numbered in the millions, his smash hit "Life is Worth Living" netted the prelate numerous accolades and awards including an Emmy. For Canadians, however, Sheen was known, but not seen: the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, in 1952, with its new television monopoly in Canada's major cities refused to broadcast the program. The "Sheen Affair" reflected the difficulties experienced by Canadian broadcasters and church leaders as they addressed the nature of the content and tone of religious programming, while at the same time grappling with how to nurture the fledgling Canadian television industry, without resorting to over-commercialization of the airwaves, particularly by importing too many American programs. The "Affair" also marked the attempt of broadcasters and clerics to balance the interests of ali Canadian denominations on the CBC network. Sheen's prohibition from the CBC until 1954 reflected the inexperience of broadcasters in defining religious television, and who controlled it, as much as it revealed Canadian insecurity with the new medium television, and the prospects of the commercialization and Americanization of Canadian programming. En 1952, l'archeveque Fulton J Sheen etait, on peut dire, le prelat le plus reconnaissable du monde anglophone. A vec ses millions de telespectateurs, son emission a succes La vie vaut la peine d'etre vecue a rapporte a l'eveque de nombreuses accolades et prix y compris un Emmy Award. Cependant, au niveau du public Canadien, Sheen etait bien connu, mais n'etait pas vu : en 1952, la Societe Radio-Canada, avec son nouveau monopole de la television dans la plupart des grandes villes canadiennes, refusait de telediffuser son emission. L' affaire Sheen refletait les difficultes auxquelles faisaient face les reporteurs de television et les leaders religieux canadiens pendant qu'ils adressaient la nature du contenu et l'allure generale des emissions a caractere religieux. De plus, ils se debattaient aussi avec la facon de stimuler la toute nouvelle industrie televisee canadienne sans recourir a la commercialisation a outrance des ondes, surtout par l'importation excessive d'emissions americaines. L 'affaire temoignait aussi de la tentative des reporteurs et des membres du clerge de determiner la preponderance des interets de toutes les confessions canadiennes sur les reseaux de la SRC. La censure de Sheen des reseaux de la SRC, qui s'est prolongee jusque 1954, a mis en evidence autant le manque d'experience des teleastes dans la definition de l'etendue des emissions a caractere religieux, et qui les dirigeait, que l'insecurite des Canadiens vis-a-vis du nouveau media, la television, et vis-a-vis des prospectives de commercialisation et d'americanisation des emissions canadiennes.

"the Fulton Sheen Affair: Religious Controversy, Nationalism, And Commercialism in the Early Years of Canadian Television, 1952-1958" (Report)
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  • Category: History
  • Published: 01 January 2009
  • Publisher: The Canadian Catholic Historical Assn.
  • Print Length: 34 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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