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CBC Unplugged
August 22, 2005 3:17 AM   Subscribe

Transmitters? We don't need no stinkin' transmitters! Employees of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporatation, locked out since early last week, are using the Internet to communicate with their listener/viewer base. First, there were blogs from both sides. And now the locked out employees are producing podcasts (RSS link) from the picket lines.
posted by sanitycheck (60 comments total)

 
thanks man, as a Canadian slowly going insane without the CBC, I needed this.
posted by tiamat at 4:28 AM on August 22, 2005


Thanks for this! Gotta love CBC employees, talk about taking back the means of production.
posted by Hildegarde at 5:03 AM on August 22, 2005


I be missin' the Corpora-Tation! Damn!
posted by Turtles all the way down at 5:04 AM on August 22, 2005


But seriously--this is intriguing.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 5:07 AM on August 22, 2005


Uh oh. The last time this happened, things got really interesting.
posted by realcountrymusic at 5:16 AM on August 22, 2005


She Be She Strike (largish .mp3 file)-- damn, that'd be worth an FPP in its own right. (Maybe I'm just easily entertained, though.)
posted by alumshubby at 6:02 AM on August 22, 2005


Damn, Turtles, that's what I get for posting on one hour of sleep AND thinking I'm too good for spell check. How embarassing.

As an additional bit of info, I found CBC on the Line shortly after I made the original post. It includes an interesting article about the foreign correspondents that CBC has basically stranded in Israel.
posted by sanitycheck at 6:07 AM on August 22, 2005


The CBC could borrow a feed from Guy Caballero at SCTV, after all, he owes them one.
posted by gimonca at 7:25 AM on August 22, 2005


This is why "About" pages are important. What's going on?
posted by odinsdream at 7:28 AM on August 22, 2005


odinsdream beats me to it. I need more background.

As an American, I've been aware something was seriously wrong with my CBC radio and TV since last week. (I had the classical station on, and it was seguing from one piece to another, sometimes overlapping - a Bach piece would start up before a Joplin number ended. I thought was either A) listening to a new PDQ Bach recording, B) having a flashback to drugs I never took, or C) experiencing an early senior moment.

And every time I turn on Ch. 9 it's an infomercial or cartoons.

But I was too lazy to seek out online articles. So while I'm belatedly searching for something that summarizes the lockout I'll just say that I'd love to watch a sports event without commentators, as evidently their CFL game was broadcast.

And - the best headline on one of the links above: Don Cherry didn't know he was in the union.
posted by NorthernLite at 7:44 AM on August 22, 2005


In whatever way, I hope that this somehow spells the end of government owned, operated and financed television and radio programming in Canada. The CBC would be great if it weren't a crown corporation.
posted by loquax at 7:56 AM on August 22, 2005


The CBC is Canada's public broadcaster -- it is funded partially by the federal government (the rest of its revenue comes from advertising, although the radio services are ad-free) but operates at arm's length, with a board of directors appointed by the government.

For the last decade, the federal government (as part of its deficit-reduction measures and privatisation efforts) has dramatically reduced the subsidy it gives the CBC and Radio-Canada, the french-speaking service. In response, CBC management has cut costs by enacting a de-facto hiring freeze and filling formerly full-time (and, more importantly, full-benefit) positions by "temporary" (i.e. short-term, benefit-reduced positions) and "casual" (i.e. freelanced, benefit-reduced positions) labour.

It is important to note that the CBC/Radio-Canada have perhaps the strongest media unions in the land and have, as a result, secured a very benefits-heavy contract. Also, the CBC's other unions, especially the technicians, have strongly resisted the labor-savings inherant in new technologies and protected their jobs by outlawing non-technicians doing technical work.

(There was no quicker way to piss off a techy when I worked as a journalist for these guys than to touch the soundboard.)

The last number of lock-outs (I survived the three-month lockout at Radio-Canada in the spring of 2001) have all turned on the issue of how much work the Mother Corp can give to cheaper, more flexible and how much must be preserved for full-timers.

IMHO there is one additional issue inherent in all this: The CBC is famously sick with bureaucracy. As a casual for two years, I observed many departments and shows that were lousy with management and yet had to scramble for journalists, editors and (to a much lesser extent) producers. In my opinion, "saving" the CBC would start with throwing the deadwood overboard; but the generals never shoot their own, right? (Horrible mixed metaphor. Urgh.)

My final point is that the CBC is oft-derided: For its mushy-left sensibilities, its love of rural quaintness -- if I see another Anne of Green Gables special (which they produce to sell at a handsome profit to Germany and Japan, by the way) I will puke -- and Don Cherry, but it remains a voice of (usual) sanity in a Canuck media landscape increasingly dominated by the Asper family, who own a good chunk of the daily papers, the second-largest private broadcaster (and my wife's employer); and other commercial media outlets.

Now if only they could get rid of Promo Girl...
posted by docgonzo at 8:03 AM on August 22, 2005


I read that the Calgary anchors are doing a daily hour-long "professionally produced" show that will air on CJSW (University of Calgary's radio station) and also be released as a podcast. http://www.cjsw.com/
posted by jeffmik at 8:09 AM on August 22, 2005


I want my Doodlebops!!!
posted by Jazznoisehere at 8:18 AM on August 22, 2005


docgonzo writes "Now if only they could get rid of Promo Girl..."

A pox on you docgonzo, talking about my beloved like that.

Now if only I can convince my wife that having Promo Girl as a mistriss would be a good thing.
posted by smcniven at 8:49 AM on August 22, 2005


You can have Promo Girl--save Sook-Yin for me.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 9:00 AM on August 22, 2005


alumshubby: She Be She Strike - damn, that'd be worth an FPP in its own right.

It was. My bad for not linking to the thread the first time. I think that was the post that made me pony up my five bucks for MeFi!

That page is, for me, my favorite web discovery of the last year, at least.
posted by realcountrymusic at 9:02 AM on August 22, 2005


"The CBC would be great if it weren't a crown corporation."

You know, batshitinsane really is a very useful term around here.

Mornings have been more difficult than usual without CBC radio. On the first day, I tried to listen to the replacement content made by management but it was just too painful. On the upside, I'm leaving for work faster now.

I was going to agree that promo girl must die, but if smcniven promises to hide her away in love-nest in another country, I'll settle for that.
posted by Zetetics at 9:04 AM on August 22, 2005


Losing CBC would be to lose Canada.

With only 25 million people in the second-largest landmass on earth, we need a public broadcaster.

CBC does an admirable job of biting the hands that feed it, far better than we can expect from toadying corporations who must, because they are businesses, put the bottom-line first and all else -- including quality journalism -- a distant second.

Broadcast media is far too important to leave entirely in the hands of business.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:20 AM on August 22, 2005


A privatised CBC would be a frickin' disaster.

Do you think it would maintain bureaux in all large and small regions of the country? The Globe ("Canada's National Newspaper™") has more reporters covering Toronto business sectors than all the reporters in Quebec, the Maritimes, Newfoundland & Labrador, BC and the north combined.

Do you think it would still provide the best international coverage (on the main network, CBC-1, Newsworld and RCI)? Do you really want to be beholden to CTV and Global's half-assed, Yank-sycophantic coverage?

Do you think it would still fund big-ticket docs like "Canada: A peoples' history"? There's no way a private broadcaster would have had either the balls or the cash to produce that monster.

Do you really want to hear "Don Cherry" and "media synergy" in the same sentence? All-Grapes-All-The-Time.

Finally: Think how much a privatised CBC would make the asshats at the National Post grin.
posted by docgonzo at 9:20 AM on August 22, 2005


"The CBC would be great if it weren't a crown corporation."

I appreciate a dry (and perhaps wry) sense of humour.
posted by juiceCake at 9:25 AM on August 22, 2005


Broadcast media is far too important to leave entirely in the hands of business.

Hear, hear.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:13 AM on August 22, 2005


Broadcast media is far too important to leave entirely in the hands of business.

Yes. Good that we spend over a billion dollars to prop up a cultural bureaucracy so that we can be told what programming is good for us. Not to mention how pleasing it is to be told that between them, Don Cherry and Ron Maclean are paid 1.5 million directly out of the public pocket.

Snarkiness aside, could not many of the same objectives of the CBC ("cultural programming", reporters in Gander, whatever else) be accomplished through grants, public-private partnerships, and charitable foundations? Why must it be a department of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage? Or, put another way, I would have far less of a problem spending the billions that we do if it were spent by anyone other than the layer upon layer of bureaucrats that have control over it now. Canada has tons of talented independent broadcasters, production companies, actors and so on. We'd have even more if the talented people at the CBC were released from their constraints. Why couldn't the government just pay Alliance Atlantis to produce Canada: A people's history and pay CTV to air it? That is, if anyone feels it's really necessary and appropriate to do so with public funds in the first place.

(Sorry for not discussing the labour problem. I assume it's appropriate to talk about the relevancy of the CBC in this context though, as I don't know that there's anything particularily unique about the current situation.)
posted by loquax at 10:33 AM on August 22, 2005


loquax writes "Why couldn't the government just pay Alliance Atlantis to produce Canada: A people's history and pay CTV to air it? "

Do you actually believe that CTV would have foregone ad revenue from ER, Law and Order, The Sopranos and taken a gamble on a Canadian History? Be real. That production was a huge gamble ratings wise and only the CBC was in a position to roll the dice. Global and CTV are to beholden to their US based programming (with a few notable exceptions). I mean come on, remember such CTV golden oldies as "Thrill of a Lifetime", "Snowjob" and "Check it Out"?

As for Promo Girl, I promise to spirit her away once I get the green light from my wife
posted by smcniven at 10:58 AM on August 22, 2005


Do you actually believe that CTV would have foregone ad revenue ... [and] ... taken a gamble on a Canadian History? Be real.

Hey, how else are they going to fill their quota? And the funding presumably will (more) than make up for theoretically reduced ad revenue. Perhaps the question we should be asking is "if no one's watching, why are we spending billions to make it?"
posted by loquax at 11:05 AM on August 22, 2005


Canada has tons of talented independent broadcasters, production companies, actors and so on.

Agreed; but they would likely not exist if not for the training and patronage provided by the CBC. I would bet you that 95% of those talented indy broadcasters, producers and actors have the CBC on their resume and a majority got their first break at the CBC, whether fetching coffee for a mentor or doing the late weather broadcast in Saskatoon. In the industry it is a rite of passage; example: A close friend was just hired as a foreign correspondent for a major US network; he broke into the biz as a local correspondent for CBC-Toronto.

Furthermore, those indy broadcasters, production companies and actors can keep food on the table because they get occasional gigs from the CBC.

I guar-an-frickin'-tee that the day after the CBC was sold off/ broken up for scrap/ etc a majority of your sample would decide to move to the States. Without the CBC there is no one shop with the resources to provide consistent, varied work; and there is noone with the committment to doing quality telly or radio. Might as well make a decent living in the states.

Why couldn't the government just pay Alliance Atlantis to produce Canada: A people's history and pay CTV to air it?

C'mon. It would suck. You know this.

When has CTV or (even worse) Global produced anything local that a.) didn't blow moose dick and b.) wasn't required by CRTC licencing requirements? Have you ever watched F.B.Eye? Or Cold squad? Or Air Farce? Or that ridiculous one on CTV about television producers? Or anything with Sonia Smits (save Street legal)?

And the less said about AllianceAtlantis the better.

Canadian telly is famously bad but the CBC has produced the only watchable stuff: DaVinci's inquest, People's History, HNIC, Street legal, ENG, Degrassi (note that the new Degrassi is on CTV and it is horrific.)

If you want to see what CBC would be like without the mandate (and funding) of a public broadcaster, watch Global. It's bottom-line broadcasting: A ton of shitty (but highly-rated) US imports, the bare minimum of news and no content that can't be synergised across various media platforms (their words, not mine.)
posted by docgonzo at 11:05 AM on August 22, 2005


Perhaps the question we should be asking is "if no one's watching, why are we spending billions to make it?"

A shitload of people watched it and bought the book/DVD etc.

As smcniven notes, it was a huge gamble that only the CBC could realistically pull off.
posted by docgonzo at 11:06 AM on August 22, 2005


A shitload of people watched it

Then there would have been no lost ad revenue for any network clever enough to figure this out.

it was a huge gamble that only the CBC could realistically pull off.

Why? I don't get it. If it was such a success, wouldn't any network have wanted it? What does CTV care how they make their money. If the CBC walked up to them and said, listen, we'll give you 50 million bucks to produce and air this thing, accounting for x percent of your Canadian content quota, do you really believe they'd say no? What companies do you know that actively resist suckling at the government teat?

And what would have happened if the "gamble" failed? How many tax dollars do you want to risk on future Ministry of Culture gambles? I have a feeling that a Jean Chretien biopic is only a few years off...
posted by loquax at 11:13 AM on August 22, 2005


But it's not the production company that we are talking about. The reason why CTV would not have(without the benefit of hindsight) aired such a program is because there is no way they could have generated the ad revenue to replace that from whatever programme they bumped off the air to show the People's History. The first thing people would have thought when CTV tried to sell ad-time would have been the Canadian History Vignettes. "Yeah, our research shows that Canadians 18-34 just don't want to watch a show about Canada in the 1700's. But if you have any spots left while the Soprano's are showing we'll take it".

CBC could afford to take the gamble because 1) it fit with their mandate (for instance "contribute to shared national consciousness and identity") and 2) if couldn't get companies to buy ad-time they could still eat the loss of revenue and justify it to the board of directors.
posted by smcniven at 11:33 AM on August 22, 2005


Why? I don't get it. If it was such a success, wouldn't any network have wanted it? What does CTV care how they make their money.

When it was first proposed, no-one thought it would be popular; only the CBC had the means to take the chance on it and it turned out, despite predictions, to be successful.

I have a feeling that a Jean Chretien biopic is only a few years off...

I agree. Heaven forbid someone should make a documentary about one of the most influential and important politicians of the last generation. Now back to Ben and more Canadian idol!
posted by docgonzo at 11:33 AM on August 22, 2005


because there is no way they could have generated the ad revenue

Except if the government paid them the difference, which is essentially the function that the CBC serves now. I'm saying, instead of a CBC, with a huge, bloated budget and unfocused operations run by ministers and God knows who else in Ottawa, why not simply have an endowment fund, or whatever you want to call it to focus dollars on key projects (rather than Simpsons reruns and bizarre heritage, "teen" and infomercial programming of dubious value) with private partners. The government currently commissions private companies for all kinds of things, rather than actually owning and operating businesses. Why shouldn't "culture" work in the same way? In other words, rather than wasting time and energy negotiating bargaining agreements with enormous unions and physically owing production facilities, our tax dollars could actually go towards programming, again, if this is the business that we want our government to be in.

If they think it's essential to show us a Chretien biopic, fine, buy airtime like anyone else. If having local news and whatever everywhere in the country is a priority, great, tender offers and commission programming. Don't run a whole media network competing in an arena in which the government has no business in principle (in my opinion), and a miniscule chance of long term success against the major international media empires.

And PS: If the major contribution of the CBC to Canadian culture over the last few years was that People's history, or the Greatest Canadian show where exactly did the other 4 or 5 odd billion dollars go? Don't tell me it was CBC Radio 1 or Street Cents.
posted by loquax at 11:57 AM on August 22, 2005


Yes. Good that we spend over a billion dollars to prop up a cultural bureaucracy so that we can be told what programming is good for us. Not to mention how pleasing it is to be told that between them, Don Cherry and Ron Maclean are paid 1.5 million directly out of the public pocket.

So your only objection is that this is costing you money? A cultural bureaucracy telling you what programming is good for you is fine, as long as it's privately funded?
posted by wakko at 12:09 PM on August 22, 2005


Why shouldn't "culture" work in the same way?

Exactly. If we leave culture to the market it will end up like every other Canadian market sector: Either directly owned by or beholden to foreign investors.

If we abandon culture to the market Canada-outside-Quebec will no longer have a culture autonomous of the United States. Period.

It's simply not good enough to just complain about vague "bloated bureaucracies." (You think Bell Globemedia's bureaucracy is any less bloated or more efficient than the ministry? If you do, you've never worked in the industry, hoss.)

The first requirement of anyone arguing for the privatisation of the CBC is to explain how it would strengthen our cultural sovereignty.
posted by docgonzo at 12:28 PM on August 22, 2005


loquax writes "In whatever way, I hope that this somehow spells the end of government owned, operated and financed television and radio programming in Canada. The CBC would be great if it weren't a crown corporation."

I just don't get this sort of comment. There is already CTV and Global to provide you with the "normal", 95% American-produced commercial television you seem to crave so much. Why do you need a third channel of the same?
posted by clevershark at 12:36 PM on August 22, 2005


Well, first off the CBC is run at arm's length from Parliament, and the corporate plan is not approved by the responsible minister (auditor general's report from 2000, page 12). There is no group at the Department of Heritage deciding what you get to watch Monday nights at 8pm. Those are decisions made by management at CBC, much like management at CTV, Global, ABC, NBC etc.. make. They do produce an annual report to the House of Commons, but I believe it is only informational and not subject to government control.

Secondly, annual revenue from the goverment is roughly 877 million or about $29/year per Canadian. Ad revenues bring that yearly figure up to the 1.2 billion mark. Frankly, even after sorting the wheat from the chaff I feel I'm getting my money's worth.

And in terms of expenses, take this with a grain of salt as it's a CBC produced fact sheet, but I think that the CBC has a distinct disavantage from the private networks when it comes to fulfilling their mandate as laid out in the Broadcasting Act.

f they think it's essential to show us a Chretien biopic, fine, buy airtime like anyone else

Why should my government by airtime on my airwaves? And so what if they have an unfair advantage over the "major international media empires", because none of them care about promoting Canadian content. If their profits increase by syndicating an American programme then they are going to do that, especially since they have an obligation to their shareholders to do just that.
posted by smcniven at 12:37 PM on August 22, 2005


And the benefit of your proposal, loquax, is what, exactly? More money going to CTV or Global. Sorry, but what's in it for me?
This kind of knee-jerk privatisation only makes sense if you actually want to eliminate the kind of programming that the CBC broadcasts. As a public broadcasters and producer, the CBC fills a role that will not be filled by the private sector. I am not willing to trade Radio 1 for more Canadian Idol.
posted by Zetetics at 12:40 PM on August 22, 2005


Canadian telly is famously bad but the CBC has produced the only watchable stuff: DaVinci's inquest, People's History, HNIC, Street legal, ENG, Degrassi (note that the new Degrassi is on CTV and it is horrific.)

Sorry docgonzo, I missed your whole comment. But given what you said (and I don't entirely disagree), do you really think that the list above merits the billions invested? What about all the flops, and there have been too many to list. Doesn't it strike you as strange in the first place that the government is producing legal and newsroom dramas? Not to mention sports programming? I love HNIC as much as the next guy, but I can't see how it justifies the spending of public money. And besides, how much of what you point out is just a matter of taste? I've never seen the shows you mention, but are they really that much worse than some of the CBC stuff? Doesn't everybody like Traders, and the 11th hour? Those were on CTV and Global no?

I would bet you that 95% of those talented indy broadcasters, producers and actors have the CBC on their resume and a majority got their first break at the CBC, whether fetching coffee for a mentor or doing the late weather broadcast in Saskatoon.

You may have a point here. I don't know enough about the specifics of the industry to comment, but I still think we have to ask ourselves how much this service is worth, because we'll be paying 10 billion dollars for it over the next ten years.

The first requirement of anyone arguing for the privatization of the CBC is to explain how it would strengthen our cultural sovereignty.


I disagree. If our cultural sovereignty is so fragile that the CBC is the only thing holding it together, we have bigger problems than privatization. And how exactly is the CBC contributing to our culture? Speaking for myself, I barely watch it. CITYTV in Toronto is far more relevant to my life than the CBC. I get hockey broadcasts on Sportsnet and TSN. Occasionally I'll watch the passionate eye, but more often than not they've bought a documentary or program from elsewhere. As far as I can tell, CBC TV at least provides me with no aspect of Canadian culture that I can't find elsewhere, and most of the culture that they show is totally irrelevant and incompatible with life in Metropolitan Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver. Again, speaking for myself, North of 60 may as well be set in Siberia. Da Vicni's inquest could just as easily be set in Seattle. The Newsroom could be New York. How exactly is CBC Newsworld different from CTV Newsnet (besides the advantage they have with the CRTC)? How is this improving cultural sovereignty? I'm not even sure what that is, and I certainly don't trust the government to tell me what it is. CBC radio and local news in minor markets is a different story, and I can understand the need for direct government involvement to a certain degree in those areas, but multi-million dollar productions and a major TV network is indefensible in my mind.

Regardless, I'm not saying "privatize the CBC", I'm saying that we should take a hard look at how the money used to fund the CBC is used, and see if there's a more efficient way to promote "Canadian culture" with it. I believe that it would be more efficient to commission the private sector to produce TV shows or movies following government guidelines using public funds to mitigate the fact that these programs are not commercially viable. Just call these things "A Government of Canada production presented by CTV" or something. Why run the whole infrastructure associated with CBC TV to give us maybe 10-20 hours of theoretically valuable programming a week?

And the benefit of your proposal, loquax, is what, exactly? More money going to CTV or Global. Sorry, but what's in it for me?


The benefit would be more quality programing, as less money would need to be spent on the infrastructure, and projects could be more selective, rather than having to fill 24 hours with assorted content. Why do you care who gets the money? As long as the same content is provided, what difference does it make if it's CTV, Global or the CBC broadcasting it? In addition, I'll bet you anything you want that any private production company or network would be able to produce the exact same programming cheaper and more efficiently than the CBC. Isn't that why the union is striking in the first place? Because the CBC is contracting too much work out to the private, non-unionized sector?

There are two issues here: One - should the government be spending even one cent producing radio or television programming? Two - how can the money currently being spent be used in the most efficient manner?

To the first point, I would say that no, the government has no more business making TV shows than it does selling liquor or flying airplanes (well, one out of two ain't bad). I don't want the government to spend my money to create cultural identities, or celebrate Canada's spirit, or anything else that they claim to do. It's simply not their job. Why don't they own newspapers? Or publish magazines? I don't care how arm's length it is, it is still a government body using public funds to advance an agenda, or further an idea, or whatever it is that they're trying to do (not that I see what ENG or Street legal have to do with anything in their mandate). I believe that to be wrong, no matter how noble the intent. Now if there was no television in Canada, and only those along the border could pick up American signals (as was the case when the CBC was set up), I could understand why there would be a need for a Canadian voice, and seeing as it was not commercially viable, funding that voice publicly. Today there are hundreds of Canadian stations, plenty of networks, all with local and regional and even national news. What is the essential service that Canadians receive from the CBC that they cannot obtain from the private sector? If deemed absolutely necessary, why not change the laws, and the framework for competition for private broadcasters to force them to invest more in exchange for their license renewals. Even that would be preferable to the current state of affairs. Instead of justifying why it should be privatized or split up, supporters of the CBC should be constantly justifying why it exists and why it is right and appropriate to use that money on TV shows instead of refunding it to taxpayers or using it for actual essential government services. Beyond vague feelings, how does the CBC measurably impact Canadian's lives compared to an extra billion a year into healthcare, welfare, education, you name it.

If we must spend money, and if there is an essential need for publicly funded programming, I would say that they should only produce content where no one else would. That means, by and large, only local minor market programing, and perhaps some niche music or arts or information programming, under which CBC radio would probably fall. If Canadians actually want the kind of programming that CBC TV currently provides, the market will deliver it, especially with Canadian content rules being what they are. If it won't, then use the money currently used to fund the CBC to fund individual projects rather than a network.

I'm not saying that I would like to only watch Everybody Loves Raymond reruns, only that in this case, the cure might be worse than the disease (especially when we're talking about the damned Rankin Family, Rita MacNeill and Ashley MacIssac specials).
posted by loquax at 1:23 PM on August 22, 2005


If I were a CBC techie looking to seize the means of production I would have used a Scoop site, or Drupal at least, or even a hacked version of Metafilter. With bittorrent feeds they could have pulled off a lo-fi CBC replacement.

In other news, my ATT VOIP phone service just went on the fritz. The ATT website and customer service are down too. Oddly, my ATT broadband service still works.

ATT's been going downhill for years. I blame deregulation.
posted by troutfishing at 1:52 PM on August 22, 2005


Wow. This has turned into quite the interesting debate on public broadcasting!

For me, this lockout has been depressing in that I've discovered just how few people seem to even care about it. I don't tend to watch CBC TV very much, but Radio 1 is the only station that is ever on in my house. I'm a graduate student and like to think I hang out with a fairly sophisticated crowd, but when I lamented to my friends about the crappy radio programming during the lockout, they looked at me like I was nuts. At 27, maybe I am a bit younger than the average CBC listener, but still...

One Lockout blogger observed:
"I played softball with a group of non-CBCers. They told me they thought CBC Television was great, especially since they aired “Old School” the other night (they're running movies to fill the time between BBC News and reruns of Antiques Roadshow). That hurt, almost as much as the ball I took to the head late in the game. I am worried. Would anyone miss the CBC if it were gone?"

I LOVE CBC, and would hate to see it disappear. I am glad to pay my tax dollars to them if I continue to get to listen to The Current and watch This Hour Has 22 Minutes. But how many other Canadians feel the same way? I suspect not that many, and that's a shame.
posted by sanitycheck at 1:55 PM on August 22, 2005


loquax: CITYTV in Toronto is far more relevant to my life than the CBC.

Heh... That says a lot!

I get hockey broadcasts on Sportsnet and TSN.


So you are saying that you deliberately tune out of Hockey Night in Canada, and you choose not to watch the playoffs after the second round (aka when the leafs are booted, except of course that all of those games are on the CBC anyway).

Occasionally I'll watch the passionate eye, but more often than not they've bought a documentary or program from elsewhere.

The vast majority of docs on The Passionate Eye are produced elsewhere. I'm not sure, but I think it may be part of the shows mandate.

How exactly is CBC Newsworld different from CTV Newsnet

My impression is that Newsnet is basically a headline news service, so I find this comment very confusing. Ever seen anything like The Passionate Eye on Newsnet? How about Hot Type or a calm sit down panel on politics ala Don Newman.

CBC radio and local news in minor markets is a different story, and I can understand the need for direct government involvement to a certain degree in those areas,

How is a radio network different from a television network?

Anyway, it is obvious CBC Radio does a much better job than Newsworld, and Newsworld does a much better job than CBC Television, that doesn't justify cutting any of it though.
posted by Chuckles at 1:59 PM on August 22, 2005


CBC costs me forty bux a year in taxes.

A cable subscription would cost me over forty bux a month in fees.

Damn sure I'll get more and better programming out of the CBC channel.

"CBC is bloated" is a hilariously misinformed opinion. CBC doesn't have two nickels to rub together, given the past decade of abusive cutbacks.

Throwing out our one truly Canadian channel to save forty bucks a year would be the height of stupidity.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:16 PM on August 22, 2005


And CBC Radio is one of the most-respected stations in the world, running second -- perhaps -- to the BBC.

Axing CBC Radio would be unfathomly stupid.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:18 PM on August 22, 2005


Knowlton Nash (ex-CBC lead newscaster) on the lockout: "The implications are very dangerous for the whole future of public broadcasting, and particularly for CBC television. It's a shame for radio because it has been doing very well in terms of audience size, but TV is in a much tougher situation. Once you lose an audience, it's very difficult to get them back.

"The whole purpose of public broadcasting, which is to provide a service to the public, means the public is being shortchanged by the lockout."

Rest.
posted by docgonzo at 2:24 PM on August 22, 2005


But how many other Canadians feel the same way?

I do. Everyone I know does.

CITYTV in Toronto is far more relevant to my life than the CBC.

Citytv is local news that barely deals with national & international matters, with very few (I'm being generous here) real journalists on staff. They do morning traffic well though, but please spare me the Mohawk college grads like Alex "i'm as authentic & knowledgeable as the padding in my bra" Pierson.
posted by zarah at 2:29 PM on August 22, 2005


Axing CBC Radio would be unfathomly stupid.

I didn't really suggest that, my comments focus far more on the television programing.

CBC doesn't have two nickels to rub together

Does it not have two nickles to rub together because of budget cuts or because they are unfocused, mismanaged and inefficient? Not to mention competition from private networks with which they cannot compete on an even playing field. Maybe they're trying too hard to be all things to all people instead of focusing their budget on what would make the biggest impact. This is the crux of what I'm trying to say, political and economic philosophies aside.

Throwing out our one truly Canadian channel to save forty bucks a year would be the height of stupidity.


$40 X 30,000,000 is a lot of $40 dollarseses. And what's important? The channel or the content? If it's the content, don't you think it could be more efficiently produced without the extraneous infrastructure? Why does there need to be a massive CBC headquarters in downtown Toronto, for example (which, incidentally, is barely used these days because of outsourcing of production to cheaper, more efficient private sector companies that produce most CBC content these days)?

Anyway, it is obvious CBC Radio does a much better job than Newsworld, and Newsworld does a much better job than CBC Television, that doesn't justify cutting any of it though.

I tend to agree with you. Would it surprise you to learn that you've listed the CBC programs in reverse order of cost? The radio network is justified in that (in my opinion), it reaches markets that would otherwise be radio starved, and airs content that would never reach commercial radio, but that is not necessarily produced by the CBC. Music, art, commentary, local news. These are somehow essential, noncommercial functions that I can understand paying public money for, just as we subsidize telephone connections and power lines in the North. I challenge you to justify why we need to pay for Da Vinci's inquest, the Newsroom, or Peter Mansbridge's vocal coach.

Heh... That says a lot!


No need to be nasty. CITY delivers a lot of what the CBC does. Local coverage, multicultural programing, critically acclaimed movies and dramas (it's true, look it up, and I don't mean soft porn Fridays).

Citytv is local news that barely deals with national & international matters

Speaking for myself, I cannot tell the difference between the CTV national news and the CBC national news. Does Peter Kent still do the news for Global?
posted by loquax at 2:46 PM on August 22, 2005


when I lamented to my friends about the crappy radio programming during the lockout, they looked at me like I was nuts. At 27, maybe I am a bit younger than the average CBC listener, but still...

Don't worry, I surprised myself at 28 by being annoyed with whatever garbage my local top 40 was playing and started flipping around the dial. At first it started with the news, then the drive-home show and the next thing I knew I was listening to the vinyl cafe. Oh the shame!!!
posted by smcniven at 4:22 PM on August 22, 2005


So we have a call for privatization and at the same time a call for the government to directly fund programming (rather than the current method of indirectly funding CBC.) I'm reminded of sports franchises getting funding from our tax dollars...

This show brought to you by the Canadian Government...

Loquax beats Faze!
posted by juiceCake at 5:08 PM on August 22, 2005


CBC doesn't have two nickels to rub together

Does it not have two nickles to rub together because of budget cuts or because they are unfocused, mismanaged and inefficient? Not to mention competition from private networks with which they cannot compete on an even playing field. Maybe they're trying too hard to be all things to all people instead of focusing their budget on what would make the biggest impact. This is the crux of what I'm trying to say, political and economic philosophies aside.


Would you rather have a station with a definate agenda, focusing all it's resources to advance that agenda (FOX news) or a broadcasting that is willing to branch out in any and all available avenues of thought, spreading out the resources to many points of conjecture?
posted by Balisong at 5:21 PM on August 22, 2005


I don't get the argument that what the CBC presents isn't relevant to those of us in Toronto when it shows people in rural areas. Isn't that the entire point, trying to reinforce a national identity?
posted by maledictory at 5:51 PM on August 22, 2005


So we have a call for privatization and at the same time a call for the government to directly fund programming

No. As I've already said, I would rather the CBC not exist at all, or if it must, only for its radio services and the provision of news where not commercially viable otherwise. That being said, given that the country insists that "Canadian" programing be funded, I also said that it would be preferable for the government to fund specific projects in conjunction with private broadcasters to deliver the same content being delivered no, only more efficiently. There's no contradiction, only two possible alternatives for the future of the CBC and our tax dollars.

(rather than the current method of indirectly funding CBC.)

This is wishful thinking. Or something. I don't know. Tax dollars go into the federal government bank account make a right turn at the Department of Canadian Heritage and finds itself in the CBC bank account. I'm not sure how this can be viewed as anything but direct. Your tax dollars pay for the programing you enjoy instead of being in your pocket and you having the choice of spending them as you see fit, or being spent by the government on an alternate program. This is direct funding.

Would you rather have a station with a definite agenda, focusing all it's resources to advance that agenda (FOX news) or a broadcasting that is willing to branch out in any and all available avenues of thought, spreading out the resources to many points of conjecture?

First of all, you're focusing of the politics of the broadcaster and the news programing it produces. The CBC spends far more on non-news programing (including dramas, sports and children's shows) than it spends on news. Second, if there was no "CBC", there would still be a variety of newspapers, magazines, websites, and yes, even TV networks in Canada that would at the least cover the spectrum of political thought as thoroughly as they do now. There would certainly be nothing preventing a private broadcaster from starting their own network with whatever slant or philosophy they'd like to bring to the table, assuming Canadians are interested. Why must we be forced to accept and fund the CBC, when their own statistics and independent ratings show their television audience with the exception of HNIC is shrinking? Obviously something they're doing is not working, or at least doesn't justify the costs. The CBC is not on the vanguard of politics in Canada, and hasn't been for some time in my opinion. If anything, they can be accused more of toeing the Liberal party line than branching out into different avenues of thought. And how can you blame them when their budget is directly controlled by the ruling government? To take your analogy further, the CBC is probably the closest thing we have to FOX news in Canada, when it comes to agendas and political interests, albeit of a different slant. At least FOX isn't owned and operated by the Senate.

Isn't that the entire point, trying to reinforce a national identity?

Stepping back for a moment, doesn't the thought of a government funded media conglomerate "reinforcing a national identity" scare you a little bit? Who is deciding what our national identity is? I have no idea. Will watching the CBC fill me in? Is that where I can find out what Chretien, or Paul Martin or Liza Frulla thinks Canada is all about? How about we come up with that ourselves, and not wait to see what it is on TV?
posted by loquax at 6:25 PM on August 22, 2005


Stepping back for a moment, doesn't the thought of a government funded media conglomerate "reinforcing a national identity" scare you a little bit? Who is deciding what our national identity is? I have no idea.

Not the corporations and their executives for one. You're free to question the manner in which the CBC selects it's content, which is hardly the case whatsoever if it were commercially run.
posted by juiceCake at 6:51 PM on August 22, 2005


But how many other Canadians feel the same way?

Dude. There would be riots. And I'd be out there with em raising hell.
posted by dreamsign at 7:50 PM on August 22, 2005


You're free to question the manner in which the CBC selects it's content, which is hardly the case whatsoever if it were commercially run.

Wrong - if you don't watch commerical television, it will change or go off the air. If you don't watch the CBC, it will continue to cost you 1 billion dollars a year. This is the very essence of a market economics.
posted by loquax at 7:52 PM on August 22, 2005


loquax: Wrong - if you don't watch commercial television, it will change or go off the air. If you don't watch the CBC, it will continue to cost you 1 billion dollars a year. This is the very essence of a market economics.

Wronger - if you aren't a member of a valued and easily defined demographic commercial television doesn't even know you exist. On the other hand the CBC has a mandate to serve the entire country and an ombudsperson (along with other oversight) to see that it happens.

So that brings us back to the real issue... which do you trust, the market or the ombudsperson? Well, that really depends on your basic philosophy. Possibly - if you are so inclined to trust markets for this type of thing - the one that gives the most value to the people with the money. However, since there will always be more people at the bottom of the economic pyramid than the top...

Anyway, as for where the money goes in the CBC. Yes, I did notice that my list was in reverse order of funding. On the other hand, your primary complaint seems to be entertainment programming - fiction and specials. There is a lot more to CBC Television than that - news, sports and information programming to be precise. Newsworld would be nothing without Television's news and information programming.

I would be perfectly happy if all the entertainment funding was channeled into the other areas. Alas, that isn't how these things work.
posted by Chuckles at 8:40 PM on August 22, 2005


The CBC appears to be run on a similar model to the BBC, so why is the Beeb so great where there seem to be problems with CBC? Is it purely poor management? The BBC used to have just that problem, until some wide-ranging (and controversial) reconstruction led by John Birt that refocused it on news and the digital age.

What wouldn't help would be privatisation. The contrast between BBC Scotland and Scottish Television (the commercial TV station) couldn't be starker, despite the fact that STV has the sorts of local programming quotas and obligations some are proposing for a commercial CBC. STV is utter pish, frankly. Commercial entities trying to do non-commercial work often are.
posted by bonaldi at 9:46 PM on August 22, 2005


They should just give everyone some of those inexpensive antidepressants I've heard are available north of Buffalo....
posted by ParisParamus at 10:06 PM on August 22, 2005


loverly non-sequitor, that.

pumpkin guadalope much, paris? inoculating frobisher?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:14 PM on August 22, 2005


A CBC post and I haven't commented? Good Greif batman!

Let me be the one to say I'm enjoying the hell out of all the CBC lovers feeling like all us HBO lovers have felt in Canada for the past few years. It really sucks to see your favourite TV go bye-bye, eh?

The CBC can burn in hell for all I care. I just hope I see a refund on my taxes for this. Misery loves company.

[ As a counterpoint I'd like to say that, in some honesty, I like that the CBC exists since it seems to pacify the people who watch the TV that I don't watch. As time goes on I'll feel less vitriolic as I tire of hearing the whining and won't mind paying the average $66.67 in taxes each year the CBC costs each taxpayer to keep the pablum flowing. {$1b funding per year / 15,000,000 jobs in Canada} ]

I love this site.

(Don't tell me the CBC is great, it might just be. I just work hard to avoid heavily government funded anything unless I have to use it. It's a personal choice. You don't have to like it.)
posted by shepd at 12:34 PM on August 23, 2005


What shepd doesn't mention (this time) is that he started a business that, afaict, skirts the legal murky waters of "stealing" American programming, and that any harm to CBC is of direct benefit to his business.

Another reason I don't trust those who rail on against the CBC: they've almost always got their own agenda at interest, and couldn't care less how their ideas would screw a lot of rural folk.

Second-largest country in the world, with a thin population from end-to-end, top-to-bottom. Sure as hell the government had better be doing some sort of media to encourage us all to consider ourselves part of the same nation!

own admittance: on my more sour days, I'm all for the dissolution of Canada and, in the west, the forming of a new nation-state incorporating Alaska, BC, Washington, Oregon, California, and any of the adjacent provinces/states that wish to join in. The natural and unnatural resource base would make it the wealthiest, bestest country in the world.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:16 PM on August 23, 2005


The US has been aggressively pursuing privatization for decades.

If Canada follows the American lead, perhaps it will too come to reap the benefits of creationist thought and pointless millitary adventurism.
posted by troutfishing at 11:32 PM on August 24, 2005


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