Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Alan Plaunt was born in Ottawa, in 1904, shortly after Marconi's successful experiments resulted in the development of "wireless" communication. The first Canadian radio station began operation in 1918 and, for the next fourteen years, broadcaster-businessmen dominated this new industry. These radio pioneers were eventually forced to accept a higher level of government involvement in broadcasting. Plaunt's unrelenting efforts to fashion a new form of broadcasting, which would transcend the exploitation of radio solely for private gain, helped to establish the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission (CRBC) in 1932 and its successor, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), in 1936. The CBC was the product of his dedication and commitment to the leadership of the movement for public broadcasting in Canada. Plaunt was an influential figure, throughout the various parliamentary stages, leading to the passage of this legislation which governed Canadian broadcasting for almost a quarter of a century. It was his view that a publicly-owned system was essential if Canada's cultural independence, which appeared threatened by her powerful neighbour to the south, was to be preserved. Plaunt's organizing of the New Canada Movement, his philanthropy shown toward such nationalist publications as the Canadian Forum, and his assertion of Canada's right to determine her own foreign policy, were further manifestations of his particular brand of Canadian nationalism. But it was radio that consumed most of Plaunt's interest and enthusiasm, because he saw this new medium with an enormous capacity to both educate and unify Canadians. His vision of the CBC, as a national institution representative of various social groups and free from partisan influence, was darkened during the Second World War when the Corporation almost totally fell under the control of the federal government. Plaunt died in 1941, with the CBC'S future uncertain, but his years of public service established the foundation for the present day broadcasting system in Canada. His central notion of the symbiotic relationship between broadcasting and culture was to be reiterated in subsequent legislation governing both radio and television in Canada.



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