The argument that the CBC is not performing its mandate:
And they’re right in their more general proposition: that it is long past time for fundamental reform of the corporation’s mandate and structure. Put simply, the case for a publicly funded television network has collapsed. It has done so under the weight of three inescapable realities.
The first is the CBC’s own woeful performance, at least when it comes to English TV.
M Reid says:
Very wrong-headed petition
first- the undisputed fact is that the CBC is one of the lowest costing public broadcasters in the world… about 34$ per person..only New Zealand and the US-PBS recieves less public money.
staff at the CBC are not paid exhorbitant salaires..and there are fewer and fewer full time “permanent” staff.
the CBC provides Canadian content, Canadian stories. which would not be the case in a privatized situation which is already inundated with crappy US shows, even on the Canadian “private” networks.
the CBC provides plenty of work to outside contractors..set design, actors, writers etc etc etc etc etc. thus the money is well spread out within Cdn society.
Sorry, I dont like govt waste and heavy taxes any more than anyone else, but the CBC is my taxmoney very well spent…and no I dont work at the CBC..but I do love the intelligent thought provoking and informative radio and many of their TV shows.
submitted on October 6th, 2011 at 7:05 pm
The corporation has always been unable to decide whether its mandate was to be an elite/niche broadcaster serving audiences the private networks would not, or whether it was to be a mass-audience, nation-uniting broadcaster. Trying to do both, it has succeeded in neither: its programming is not, on the whole, particularly good or particularly popular.
- George Tonight, Doc Zone, The Nature of Things, Republic of Doyle, Dragon's Den, Rick Mercer Report, The Fifth Estate, Arctic Air, The National, Homicide File, with the faces of a cross section of Canadian peoples of all ages. Q reviewed the actor from Arctic Air. Well spoken and sincere, he has turned to television to encourage native peoples to see themselves as heroic. Those images are not going to be there from Hollywood, are they?
Bev Christensen says:Don’t you dare! If there is one thing that unites this country it is the fact that you can listen to CBC from coast to coast. I have lived in northern parts of this country where the only reliable news source was CBC. Commercial stations cannot - or is it will not - ever be able to provide coast to coast coverage - we would be deluged with eastern news and the west would disappear from the air waves.
submitted on October 6th, 2011 at 1:52 pm
The second is that the conditions that once justified public funding are no longer present. In television’s technological infancy, the combination of “spectrum scarcity” (only three or four channels) and the total reliance, given the impossibility of charging viewers directly, on advertising as a source of revenue, made for monotonous viewing: lots and lots of the same types of shows, all aimed at the broadest possible audience. Advertisers had no interest in how much people wanted to watch a given show, only that they were watching it. The case for public broadcasting, then, was not so much to supplant the market as to recreate it: to mimic the diversity of choices on offer in most normal markets.
But there are hundreds of channels now, and viewers can pay directly, not only for each channel, but each show. There is no longer any appreciable divide in the range and quality of offerings on public and private television: the real divide now is between subscription channels, like HBO, and the “free” advertising-financed models. And yet this world, too, is fast becoming obsolete.
martin eastman says:CBC radio in our area gives us more news and better news and different points of view than other local radio stations. I have talked to CBC radio to put on some paid advertising and have been told they do not take paid advertising. If CBC radio is reigned in will the other sources of information give unbiased news and reports - I think not! All sources of news and information comes from right wing sources and only give one point of view and that is of the rich and powerful corporations as does your group. There is no other source of infor other than “thetyee.ca or the common sense Canadian. I feel my tax dollars are well spent on the CBC and we get good value for tax payer dollars.
submitted on October 3rd, 2011 at 9:57 pm
This is the third point: network television, of any kind, is doomed. Recent years have already witnessed a sharp decline in the amount of time spent watching television, while the dwindling television audience is further fragmented between more and more networks.
Fast-forward five years from now, and it’s quite clear that television will no longer be delivered in the form of separate channels, each streaming a series of programs one after the other. Turn on your TV, rather, and you’ll see a screen full of icons representing the shows you subscribe to: the iTunes model. Indeed, that’s how many people watch TV now.
Put it all together, and there is simply no case for continuing to aim hundreds of millions of dollars every year at a single point on the dial. It’s not good for taxpayers. It’s not good for viewers. And it’s not good for the CBC itself, and the people who work there. The best television, as on HBO, emerges from a partnership between creative producers and a passionate, demanding, discerning audience.Put the CBC on pay, then, and watch it soar. It could still be a public broadcaster, and some of its services could still be subsidized. But the main English network would be a subscription channel, rather like the CBC News Network, or perhaps a constellation of them, each charging a separate fee.
So Coyne wants UBB- user based billing. We can listen to podcasts free.
Longer term, as I say, the whole network model will have to be rethought. Even if public funding were still considered necessary, the better model may well be Telefilm: i.e., just fund programs, wherever they appear, rather than the network and all its expensive infrastructure.
Fox News is supported by interests groups. Bloomberg gives away free content, so does the Economist. Premium content, one pays for. That's what's coming for the Globe and Mail and most newspapers. But without knowing who your readers are and what they're thinking, from a broad spectrum of the populace, the articles will lack life.
Perhaps the present controversy will clinch the case. So long as the CBC is dependent on the public purse, it will always be vulnerable to political pressure and the vagaries of budget cuts. Freed from that dependence, it would be free to chart its own course, accountable neither to advertisers nor to backbenchers, but to those best and wisest of judges, its viewers.
Allan MacDonald says:
I will NOT be signing this petition. While I consider myself a fiscal conservative (how else would I have ever received an e-mail from the NCC?), I also believe there is a need for public radio, not just in Canada, but in every country. I agree that if you tracked all news and programming on the CBC, or any public broadcaster, that it would lean towards the left. However, that doesn’t mean it is all left wing, and it doesn’t mean that we don’t have an opportunity to get on there to voice our opinions, unless you are saying we fiscal conservatives are oppressed by CBC mucky mucks? I rarely, if ever, hear of this.
So while I believe in smaller government and encourage private business, I also see a problem with 100% private broadcasting. I understand that this petition is an “opt-out”, and not a demand to obolish the CBC, but in Canada we cannot support a model like NPR in the United States because NPR relies on donations and fundraising, and we simply don’t have the critical mass to support a model like that. I would be in favor of changing some CBC arrangements to allow for greater revenue generation (ie: more advertising, etc.).
submitted on October 6th, 2011 at 2:40 pm
In closing, the CBC gives people good jobs. Coyne would have journalists become bloggers, lost in the sea of non supported facts. Oooops! Maybe Coyne should not be a blogger. I don't see from this half baked piece that he merits the spot on Macleans.