Is the end of the world nigh? Are pigs circling the CBC “white elephant” on Front Street?
I only ask this because one my favorite columnists at the Toronto “Tsar,” Professor Michael Geist, has come down heavy on CBC.
While disagreement over CBC funding is as old as the broadcaster itself, the more uncomfortable discussion for the CBC is its coverage of the current election campaign — particularly its approach to national debates and political party advertising — which raises troubling questions about its relevance in the current media environment.
The most puzzling decision has been its refusal to broadcast debates hosted by other organizations. The CBC may be disappointed with the debate approach adopted by the political parties in this campaign, but that does not change the sense that if the national public broadcaster does not air programs in the national public interest, it calls into question the very need for a public broadcaster.
Those of us on the right have been ranting and raving about this for years: Why are hard-working Canadian taxpayers stuck paying $1 billion of our hard-earned taxpayer money every year to prop up a heavily biased, incompetent organization — CBC English TV — which has been losing thousands of viewers every year, right across the board, in all categories:
* Its entertainment division. Consider the viewing options: This Hour Has Twenty-Two Viewers; The “Should Have Been Cancelled Years Ago” Rick Mercer Report; The Horribly Unfunny Mr. D, to name but three.
* Its sports division. Losing Hockey Night in Canada and replacing it with Canadian award shows (in which heavily-subsidized artists award each other awards for unread books, unheard music and unwatchable TV shows and films) wasn’t a programming change bound to attract regular hard-working Canadian viewers. (That is, the people who are paying the bills.)
* Its news and documentary division. Petey Mansbridge’s The Notional has been irrelevant for years, except to the dwindling elitist mob south of Bloor, who believe Naomi Klein and her sock puppet husband Avi should speak for all of Canada. And ironically, if CBC’s Marketplace was forced to compete in the free marketplace of ideas, it would go the way of home mail delivery.
Which brings us all back to the election debate issue.
CBC did not just shoot itself in the foot, as Geist claimed. It shot itself in both feet. Then it shot itself in the face. Then it committed harakiri on the steps of Front Street. For many Canadians, left and right, CBC’s refusal to air federal election debates has pushed them into the “defunding” camp.
The Canadian people are doing just fine without the CBC. There are still hundreds of solid print and online newspapers. Hundreds of TV networks. Hundreds of online TV networks, podcasts and blogs.
We Canadians have access to tons of news and information from sources more reliable than the highly biased CBC, which has geared all its anti-Harper reporting to side with any party that might throw it a financial lifeline.
I hereby predict the biggest loser of this federal election:
The CBC, by a landslide.