Some would say, so what, it's the best the CBC can do in an era of shrinking budgets and audience fragmentation. Besides, that's what the audience wants. True, people love sports but has CBC ever asked the audience if all the sports programming could be found on other channels, would they prefer a CBC focused more on quality drama and entertainment?
As the BBC approaches its 100th anniversary, the venerable broadcaster is in a pitched battle for its future. The Canadian experience provides a lesson on how not to fund the BBC. Canada abandoned the licence fee in the 1950s on the premise that TV was too expensive to be funded by individual households.
CBC is like a crazy, old aunt, unwilling to accept the reality of her circumstances. In CBC's case it is the reality that its radio audience is comprised mostly of older Canadians. CBC senior managers have recently boasted about the record high audiences of CBC Radio. So the decline in CBC Radio and the real audience story have been covered up, along with the serious negative effects of disproportionate budget cuts. Meanwhile managers continue to ignore how people use radio, going after the younger, hip audience that long ago abandoned radio for other media choices.
The Canadian media has missed, or, rather, sidestepped the opportunity to truly learn the lessons Madiba taught the world. Politicians and establishment hacks invariably give empty words. The juxtaposition of Canada's multicultural crown and the apartheid-like pyramid of pundits is a cross Canadians will have to bear. But, there are a few notable (positive) exceptions in the coverage of Mandela's death.
Small-town B.C. may be facing a plague of what disgraced former U.S. vice president Spiro Agnew called the "nattering nabobs of negativity" -- or at least that's what a number of B.C. mayors and their supporters would have you believe. One B.C. mayor went so far as to criticize citizens for contacting the media and provinvial watchdog groups (including IntegrityBC), claiming that no one in his administration would ever stoop to such a dastardly deed.
When Jian Ghomeshi came on the air last week on his show Q to announce that Mumford & Sons were stopping by in a few days to play in-studio, he described them as "Acoustic Rock Sensations." I rolled my eyes and shook my head. To me, the word "Rock" has always meant "heavy." Flippantly pairing the word "Rock" with words like "acoustic" or "folk" or "soft" undermines and strips it of all its deserving weight.
Canada is a funny place, and I mean "funny - ha ha." We may not love to laugh any more than anyone else, but I think we may laugh more. Canadians are funny and they like funny. It's how we see ourselves and how others see us. To the U.S., Canadians were either hockey players or funny guys. Eventually, Americans and Europeans played hockey, but Canadians remain the comedy Kings and Queens.
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.