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Watching the Watchdog: Save CBC, Kill The National

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Veteran broadcast newsman Tim Knight writes a regular column for HuffPost, analyzing and rating broadcast and online journalistic programs.

CBC News is killing the wrong programs.

Of all the programs in all the CBC world, the supposed-to-be-public service broadcaster is dumping two of its very best -- Connect With Mark Kelley on TV and Dispatches with Rick Rick MacInnes-Rae on radio.

It boggles the mind.

It just doesn't make sense.

For weeks now I've been meaning to write about the manifold and manifest virtues of Connect. But for weeks, other topics got in the way. Mainly other CBC topics. Like the little matter of a $115-milion budget cut.

So I kept pushing the Connect column back down my list of priorities.

Mea maxima culpa.

And now it's likely too late.

But I was never famous for doing what CBC management told me when I worked there for lo, those 15 years.

So I see no reason to simply accept CBC management's decision now.

Note to Hubert Lacroix (CBC President and CEO):

Do the honourable thing, Sir. Change your mind. Admit you're wrong.

Connect and Dispatches are exactly the sort of programming public service broadcasters like CBC are supposed to do. Which is why we taxpayers send the CBC big money every year.

Not incidentally, we also pay you big money, Mr. President, to make the right decisions in our name.

In this case you made the wrong decisions.

But it's not too late for you to change your mind. To screw your courage to the sticking place.

And kill The National.

And replace it with a more generously-funded Connect with Mark Kelley.

Mark Kelley and Connect are young, while Peter Mansbridge and The National are old.

Kelley and Connect are energetic, while Mansbridge and The National are tired.

Kelley and Connect are the future, while Mansbridge and The National are the past.

Connect is already consistently better TV and a whole lot cheaper to produce than The National.

Once you've put The National out of its misery, you'll easily have enough cash to restore Connect and Dispatches. With a lot left over to finance foreign bureaux and vital interactive Internet technology.

Most important of all though, 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.

A public broadcaster born out of the ashes of the past, honouring its mandate, "to inform, enlighten and entertain" in a new, interactive, 21st-century way.

In this new world, all CBC programming will be re-thought, revised, renewed.

In the news, anchors and reporters will think aloud, share information with viewers, using normal voices and normal, everyday language, like Kelley on Connect. Instead of the strange, pushed, loud, announcer-reading voices favoured by Mansbridge and crew on The National.

Stories will no longer be assigned and designed with the outdated idea that passive viewers flock to the program every evening grateful to be fed the facts of the day. Instead, stories will focus on meaning, on bringing understanding of the world we live in.

The idiotic concept that crime, disasters and weather, and "if it bleeds, it leads" make for great news programs will be consigned to the garbage bin of history.

And a new CBC, a new public broadcaster for a new century will be born.