The CBC brass need to pay attention to the general public's growing apathy towards an institution too often in the news for the wrong reasons. Uncomfortable corporate silences. Lingering questions. Unanswered inquiries. CBC fans can't explain this riddle to themselves, much less to lukewarm listeners. As the embattled broadcaster lobbies for increased government dollars to "Save the CBC" underneath a cloud of checkered transparency and puzzling rationales, taxpayers' appetite for increased spending dries up.
CBC and Radio-Canada staff across the country are bracing for deep cuts today, as the public broadcaster aims to respond to an estimated $100-million revenue shortfall in the next year. It's likely that some Canadians may be rejoicing at the news, but I am certainly not one of them. Their raison d'être is not simple distraction, it is to be universally accessible, contribute to a sense of national identity and community, and -- most importantly -- keep a safe distance from vested financial interests. What that means is you can't necessarily assess their worth based on numbers, but rather good programming. You think we can't afford to offer intellectually-nurturing programming in these tough economic times? I think we can't afford not to!
What's the solution to the CBC dilemma? Maybe what needs to be done is that the CBC, which has mutated over time into a multi-platform mega corporation, should be divided into semi-autonomous parts. By breaking the CBC into smaller, tighter organizations (but still associated with the whole) it might actually eliminate a lot of bureaucracy.
Don Cherry's regressive rhetoric betrays Canada's reputation as a nation of inclusiveness and cultural tolerance. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has tolerated this treatment for too long. Don Cherry's distasteful diatribes belong in hockey's past, not in the Canadian national pastime's present or future.
I went to the Toronto Star's vapid "Whither the CBC" discussion this week. Apparently, the corporation's enemies are right-wing conservatives who ask "Why should CBC get more than $1-billion a year in public money?" Unfortunately, in 2012, it's a valid question, not entirely based on politics and/or greed.
I am not happy with the cuts to the National Film Board (NFB), CBC and Telefim. It's culturally dumb. It's economically dumb. The cuts will only mean less jobs for the talented people working in this industry. It's time the government's support for telling our stories was not viewed as some fluffy option.
Why has the federal government targeted the CBC, Telefilm and the National Film Board? The only logical answer is that these cuts are purely political and ideological. Ottawa's politicians must stop using the arts as a political football and realize that culture is a profitable industry comparable to any other.
David Frum recently published his analysis of the federal budget, and asked whether or not it definitively proves that Canada is the "best-governed country in the advanced democratic world." On a purely economic basis this budget is prudent in many ways. But as a policy document, it is a dismal failure that continues this government's disregard for the health of our democracy.