Once upon a time, Montreal had a low-budget multi-ethnic television station whose mission it was to provide a space where allophones could communicate. The station was called CJNT, and broadcasted over the air on channel 62.
Then the channel was acquired by a media company, which was in turn acquired by CanWest/Global. CanWest forced the station to declare bankruptcy, and has been egging the CRTC to allow it to reduce its ethnic content to put more commercially viable programming on instead.
The latest sad move in this direction came in April, when CanWest announced that its CH stations would be rebranded as “E!” entertainment (read: celebrity gossip) channels. That change took effect last Friday, and the channel’s been running all sorts of “E!” programming from the U.S. network ever since.
But what about its commitment to 60% multicultural programming? The channel still runs its multicultural shows, many during prime-time (the CRTC rules require this). And in between, they provide E! celebrity gossip shows dubbed in other languages. Now you can hear about Britney Spears in Portuguese!
Not only is celebrity gossip bad in and of itself, but to take a channel designed to give a voice to those who can’t get access to commercial airwaves, and use that channel (to the extent allowable by law) to broadcast unimportant information about people who have so much television coverage that they take great pains to limit it…
Kind of ironic, don’t you think?
Needless to say, the only reaction this change has gotten in the blogosphere is bad: “Tripe.”