There is more to be said about Andrew Coyne's suggestion that CBC television ought to be dismantled, and spun off into a constellation of self-supporting cable specialty channels so that viewers could select what they wanted to subscribe to, rather than paying for the public broadcaster as a monolithic institution. In suggesting that CBC become a collection of subscription-based channels, Coyne fails to see that the same market dynamic is at work there as in advertising-supported TV -- i.e. the need to maximize audiences as a way of achieving peak profits.
Neither American Idol nor any of the crazy reality shows would ever measure up to this great public program that I have come to respect and appreciate. By watching great programming like The Agenda, my interest in Canadian history and politics has become more entrenched.
That the CBC should celebrate Hockey Night in Canada's birthday, and not its own, is emblematic of the dire straits in which the broadcaster finds itself, having reached the end of the line in its quest to make a success of the hybrid, commercial/public service model it was saddled with at birth, like a club foot.
For the better part of a century now, private broadcasters in Canada have been complaining that they are forced to operate in competition with a state-subsidized player, CBC/Radio-Canada and its predecessors. But in reality the subsidy provided to the private industry by government is just about the same size as the CBC's Parliamentary appropriation.
In recent days there has been much focus on the CBC and the government's intentions to control it. Provisions in Bill C-60 will effectively change the way the CBC is run and funded. But why should we care? And what does it mean for us as Canadians?
As I understand it, Harper's plan is to place someone on the CBC's board to monitor and participate in labour negotiations on behalf of the government is different than having a government representative in the newsroom vetting stories. Harper's plans should definitely be thwarted but that is, ultimately, only a tiny step toward actually fixing the CBC.