Join Greg and Diane every Monday as we debate what’s on our minds. This week, we comment on the Senate Standing Committee on Transport and Communications’ report on how the CBC can succeed, titled “Time for Change: The CBC/Radio-Canada in the Twenty-first Century.”
First of all, I’d suggest everyone read Kelly Lynne Ashton’s Wonk Report, explaining some of the document’s more interesting points. I totally agree with Kelly Lynne’s assertion that the report “seems mired in the Nineteenth Century,” or at the very least from before the CBC held its upfront presentation earlier this year.
If the members of the senate had been paying attention (or had been invited to that event) they would have seen and heard executive vice-president Heather Conway announce that, because of massive cuts internally and losing the NHL broadcast rights, they were already on the road to addressing challenges.
The senate report urges the public broadcaster to “emphasize Canadian artists and cultural events such as the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra … and the Orchestra symphony de Montreal.” Already on the books for the 2015-16 season in that category? Past CBC programming in The Canadian Country Music Association Awards, The CBC Massey Lectures, The Scotiabank Giller Prize and Canadian Screen Awards. The network’s newest CBC Arts strand will spotlight homegrown artists and musicians through series like Crash Gallery and Exhibitionists. The senate urges the CBC to air more “Interuniversity women’s and men’s sports, minor league sports, etc.” Do the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games fall under the “etc.” in the report? If so, they have that covered too.
I’m not saying the CBC is already doing all it needs to, but they’re clearly already a bit ahead of what the senate is proposing.
Recommendation 18 suggests “CBC/Radio-Canada focus on showing high-quality programs that are unlikely to be offered by commercial broadcasters,” and that was a bit of a head-scratcher. Does high-quality mean “done with a bigger budget,” using the separate “super-fund” proposed in another section of the report, or does it mean the arts programming already mentioned? I’d love to sit the members of the group down to hear what shows they’d like to see on the CBC. What would their network pitches be for possible comedy and drama projects that are different from what CTV, Global and City broadcast?
Does the CBC need fixing? Absolutely. But with the current programming lineup they have, and the new stuff planned for 2015-16, I think they’re on the right track. Do you?
I look forward to the CBC’s upcoming report “Time for Change: The Senate in the Twenty-first Century“ — and I hope it’s one blank page.
The Senate weighing in on the minutia of how our public broadcaster should adapt is possibly funnier than anything on CBC right now. And Still Standing is pretty darn funny.
The highlights of that Senate report in addition to Art Eggleton’s minority report issued shortly afterwards could be compiled into a volume called “Everything That’s Ever Been Said About How to Fix the CBC Since the Dawn of Time. ” So, not super helpful at charting a new course, Senate.
And as Greg points out, some of the recommendations are already included in CBC’s five year strategic plan released this year: “Everyone. Every way.” Which reminds me of the feeling I have any time I hear people’s grand plans to save the CBC: it can’t be everything to everyone, but it has to be everything to everyone.
I have my own plan to fix the CBC, but unlike the Senate I don’t think I know enough about the broadcast industry to believe I can offer detailed instructions. My report would be short: give the CBC all the money. Fund it up the wazoo with my tax money or a license fee like the BBC. Quit dragging the private networks kicking and screaming to the CanCon trough, make them pay into something like the Canadian Media Fund — or don’t, but then don’t provide them any sort of industry protection — and use all the money for CBC programming. I don’t care about the details. Just fund the CBC at least to the average level of other Western nations’ public broadcasters.
And don’t put any money toward a Senate that writes irrelevant reports and recommends Reach for the Top as the saviour of public broadcasting. Give that funding to the CBC, too.