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Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Chairman Jean-Pierre Blais.

Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS

You've got to hand it to the CRTC: The broadcast regulator has managed to turn a dry discussion of Canadian content rules into something kind of sexy. Or maybe they've turned something sexy into a dry bureaucratic discussion. Either way, the regulator isn't against sex, per se, as long as the sex is Canadian. And figuring out just how Canadian the sex must be, in order to be Canadian enough? At the CRTC, this is called "foreplay."

A trio of Toronto-based erotica channels have apparently come up short, leaving the regulator unsatisfied. The CRTC recently slapped the channels with a reprimand, for failing to meet their required allotment of 35 per cent of Canadian-made porn. Their broadcast licences are in jeopardy, and the commission has also called their parent, Channel Zero, to a special hearing next month to explain itself. AOV Adult Movie Channel, AOV XXX Action Clips and AOV Maleflixxx have said their infractions are nothing more than an unfortunate clerical error. In previous CRTC filings, Channel Zero claims to have fallen just minutes short of its 8.5-hour daily quota of Canadian erotica.

The whole thing points out the absurdity of Canadian Content regulations, and their attempt to impose cultural nationalism on the airwaves. It's true that, without CanCon, "Debbie" in Debbie Does Deep River might never have been given her shot at stardom. But is this really something a government regulator should be fighting for? When did porn become a strategic industry?

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The CRTC's CanCon requirements may have made sense at one time. It is a very different story today, in a world where the Internet blurs the definition of what is a broadcaster, and makes domestic-content requirements unenforceable. And rumour has it that there's an entire world of porn to be had on the Internet, free from CRTC oversight.

The CRTC should keep its hands off erotica, at least during office hours. Yes, we know, they are just trying to follow the letter of the law. But applying CanCon rules in this case makes about as much sense as having sex in a canoe.

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