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.
Given that, in poll after poll, Canadians have expressed the view that the CBC/Radio-Canada is a public good that is both desirable and necessary, the solution to the market failure ought to be obvious: it is to provide the money necessary for the CBC. To do that will mean eliminating advertising on all CBC services, and boosting the public subsidies.
Few will be surprised to read that the public broadcaster is facing tough times. But we are not alone. The entire media ecosystem is in flux. But even though we share challenges with private broadcasters, we are unique in one very important respect: we're accountable to you, the Canadian public. If we, as a country, believe in public broadcasting, then we need to support it.
If the CBC were to become an advertising-free service on both radio and television, as its supporters are demanding in ever-growing numbers, this fig-leaf rationale for unwarranted secrecy and arbitrary decision-making would be stripped away. A more truly accountable public broadcaster would be the result.
Petitions delivered to the government in the House of Commons are seldom an effective method of achieving change, unless they are accompanied by other, more effective actions. If online petitioners and other organizations are really concerned about the future of the CBC, their time would be better spent developing more effective campaigns.
Taking such a drastic step -- killing the CBC's once-revered flagship program -- will signal to the world, the country and CBC employees in all departments that there's a new day, a new public broadcaster in Canada. This would be better than cutting innovate shows like Connect with Mark Kelley and Dispatches.
In this budget, we're seeing steep cuts to precisely those areas where the greatest opportunities for growth and evolution reside -- regional services, engaging documentary production, in-depth reporting, and comprehensive news gathering. At Reimagine CBC, we're using this moment as an opportunity for creative intervention.