Thursday, March 26, 2009

CBC Cuts: "Hardly a Meltdown"

Canada US flags This is a repost of a Toronto Sun article:

Despite the sorry news that the CBC is cutting 799's still getting $1.1 billion a year. Hardly a melt-down...

Mr. Lacroix defends running U.S. game shows on grounds that they attract viewers and advertising. Now he says the Corp has to sell $125 million in assets to alleviate the shortfall...

Executive salaries have already been frozen, so maybe the 50% cut in bonuses now will be trimmed to 100%. Why are bonuses necessary when execs are already well-paid?

...Acknowledging that she had no inside knowledge about CBC layoffs or cutbacks, Ms. [Carole] Taylor [former chairman of the CBC (2001-05), and a former B.C. finance minister (2005-08)] said she opposed importing U.S. game shows and felt the CBC should 'not be going for ratings but providing a service that cannot be found anywhere else.'

...Lord knows, private broadcasting won't do it."

CBC logoI just want to point out that there are Canadian-made shows on the CBC that I and other people actually do like to watch (besides Hockey Night in Canada, obviously):

As for what to do with the other 20 or so hours of the day, here are my thoughts:

If the CBC doesn’t have the money or advertising to draw in a huge audience, that pretty much affirms its position as a public broadcaster. And what’s wrong with that?

The CBC doesn’t have the constraints of the privately-owned networks (pleasing advertisers mostly), so it can really be a place for fun and experimentation.

There are a ton of things the CBC could do, and perhaps, should have done, as a public broadcaster. Here's one: How about giving time slots to the public?

Got a garage band you want to showcase? Written a screenplay you would like to see come to life? Want to practice reporting skills by doing your own story on a Canadian person/event/issue?

It could be like YouTube for TV; public broadcasting for...public broadcasting.

This might actually get people to tune in more, if they, as the Canadian public, can make contributions to what’s considered “Canadian content.”

And Wheel of Fortune sucks anyway. What were they thinking?

Share your thoughts!


  1. This is going to be one long comment.

    I like your idea of CBC creating a service for more user-generated content. It could probably something online where the costs of running it are lower. I think the CBC has done some innovation, like CBC Radio 3, a solely online radio station, and the contest to get a new Hockey Night theme. There definitely could be more.

    I, however, disagree that having no money affirms a public broadcaster. I know that $1.1 billion/year might sound like a lot. But, compared to other public broadcasters, in a year, the CBC receives $34/citizen while the BBC receives $124/citizen.

    So, if we expect it to be a public broadcaster, the government needs to fund it properly. We can't say that we expect them to not worry about revenue, and not fund it properly so, in reality, they do have to worry about their revenue.

    On the topic of ratings, I think ratings are important for showing if they are making relevant programming. It should not be ratings for ratings sake or for advertising sake though.

    I am keeping an eye out on the topic of funding and broadcasters because the private broadcasters are apparently asking the CRTC for a loan or funding to maintain local broadcasting.


  2. That's a good point. Well, many. (I think this is going to be a long response.)

    I remember hearing complaints that $34/citizen is too much for Canadians to pay, especially because the CBC's not THAT popular; I could imagine hearing even more complaints if that was raised to $124 - that is, if the CBC stuck to the same type of content. (The BBC has more and maybe even better programs, but that's probably because they do have more revenue?)

    I like what you said about ratings for ratings sake or for advertising sake, because that's partly the problem. You seem to know more about this than I do, but I think the CBC is under so much pressure to get ratings and compete with private broadcasters that they're just emulating them (getting American programming).

    It's the same with those American knock-off shows like Canadian Idol, So You Think You Can Dance Canada, Are you Smarter than a Canadian Fifth Grader?

    I like those shows and all, but it sort of sends the message that if you want to have a successful Canadian-based show, you have to create a Canadian version of an American one. Because those shows are already well-known, they would likely guarantee ratings, which would then guarantee advertisers.

    Are advertisers just not interested in Canadian programming, or are Canadians not interested? Or is it just the existing Canadian programming that's not attracting anyone?

    Thanks for taking the time to read and write such a thoughtful comment Paul! Feel free to keep this discussion going.

  3. Advertisers are not as interested in Canadian programming because they draw less viewers. Advertisers want eyeballs.

    I think the CBC has some good programming that target specific demographics. A lot of their television shows are aimed towards females, like Being Erica, and Wild Roses.

    The problem with putting the focus on advertisers is that as a public broadcaster, they shouldn't have to worry about it. But, as this situation points out, they do have to worry about ad revenue.

  4. While the CBC is a public broadcaster and advertising shouldn’t matter, I agree that it does because it’s not funded properly through other means.

    The CBC has done some good programming, as I mentioned in my post, but obviously it’s not good enough. They just cancelled another show, “Sophie” because of low ratings, and have to limit episodes of “Being Erica,” “The Border,” and “Little Mosque on the Prairie” because of low ad revenue.

    My main question is: what will it take for Canadian programming to be successful?