I like living in a bilingual country, because sometimes you get two of something. Like two fish tanks on your TV. I don’t know how it came to be, but Bell offers me both “The Aquarium Channel” and “La Chaîne Aquarium.” These are like the fireplace channel, if you’ve ever seen that, only you’re looking at a fish tank. The two aquarium channels appear to be the exact same tank, with the exact same fish, though they are distinct in one way: the English channel plays classical music, the French channel, jazz.
How was this decided? Was there originally going to be only one station (“La Chaîne Aquarium Channel”)? Can we read anything into the existence of two? Did Ontario refuse to have the scandalous sounds of jazz corrupting its citizens, or Quebec balk at the idea of boring old classical music? How were jazz and classical chosen? Were there public consultations? Was there a committee? Did they consider other styles like disco, dancehall, or death metal?
These are the questions that keep me up at night, and they lead to more questions. Recently, looking for something to watch at one in the morning, I noticed that both aquarium channels had a brief, scheduled block of time where they were off the air. Do the fish get breaks? Were they cleaning the tank? Did a fish die? Was it murder?
Sadly, since I originally wrote this, the music has been removed from the channels. It’s just aquarium bubbly water sounds now, on both.