What would you do if you were CBC’s president?

Découverte host Charles Tisseyre’s cri-du-coeur last week at the CBC Annual Public Meeting has already gotten more than 100,000 views on YouTube. Straddling the line between passionate and angry, it deplored the situation at the public broadcaster, how much it has seen its programming cut (his own show now has fewer episodes and more repeats as a result) and has been kicking its young talent out the door.

But while Tisseyre’s words got wild applause from the crowd assembled in the basement of the Maison Radio-Canada, and Tisseyre politely but firmly challenged CBC president Hubert Lacroix on the latter’s failure to answer a question about why he hasn’t done more to fight the federal government on CBC funding, the Radio-Canada personality doesn’t necessarily share the crowd’s animosity toward Lacroix.

A concerned citizen helps Hubert Lacroix out with the tedious resignation-letter-writing thing.

A concerned citizen helps Hubert Lacroix out with the tedious resignation-letter-writing thing.

“Animosity” is perhaps an understatement here. Many in the crowd wore T-shirts that seemed to directly blame Lacroix for the thousands of job cuts the broadcaster has seen since he took office. The second question of the event asked if he should resign. Later, someone handed him what he described as a pre-written resignation letter that needed only Lacroix’s signature.

But Tisseyre told me later in a one-on-one interview that Lacroix’s resignation would serve little purpose. “If the people who were there resigned, they would be replaced by others, who would be faced with the same cuts. I think the problem is much deeper,” he said.

You can read more about Tisseyre’s comments in this (paywalled) piece I wrote for Cartt.ca. It also includes my impressions about Lacroix’s problem with expressing the right emotions to relate to his employees and CBC fans among the general population.

I recorded the Tisseyre interview on a recently-purchased smartphone (RIP Google Nexus One, you served me well), and the quality is pretty good considering I was in a room where everyone was talking. And Tisseyre is a great speaker, so I offer the audio here for your enjoyment (edited slightly to remove my awkward umms and ahhs):

You can also watch the entire public meeting, panel discussion and audience questions on CBC’s website, or read the notes of Lacroix’s speech.

You are the president

For whatever reason, Hubert Lacroix isn’t a beloved figure among the CBC unions and citizens who want more funding for the public broadcaster. But it’s unclear exactly what their problem is with him. He and his team are administrators trying to balance a budget, and it seems on that front that they’re succeeding. They have established priorities, such as preserving local news, that some may disagree with. And like any other large corporation, there are the management fumbles and scandals (see Ghomeshi, Jian).

CBC president Hubert Lacroix

CBC president Hubert Lacroix

But about the only concrete criticism about him that I’ve seen is that he hasn’t gone on a tirade, ripped his shirt off in front of Parliament (to use the literal translation of the French expression) and done more to convince the Conservative government to give the CBC more money by either going more into deficit, increasing taxes or cutting other programs.

As Lacroix pointed out, the CBC has tried to be creative, asking for new funds for local TV stations from the CRTC, putting advertising on Radio Two, launching the CBC Music service, and other measures meant to increase revenue.

Maybe there’s more that I’m missing, or maybe those scandals are bigger than I think, or maybe it’s that Lacroix has to martyr himself, resign in protest over the CBC’s lack of financing.

So I put this to you, armchair media management consultants: If you were the president of the CBC, what would you do differently? (“Shut it down” is not an option, as much as some people like to think that’s what Lacroix is secretly there to do.)

31 thoughts on “What would you do if you were CBC’s president?

  1. Bill

    First and foremost, what’s needed is a public consultation on what we want the CBC to be.

    You design your product based on demand, you don’t just respond to what competitors are doing. That always keeps you on the back foot.

    Until the CBC knows what Canadians expect of it, it will constantly be chasing its tail…and with less money.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      First and foremost, what’s needed is a public consultation on what we want the CBC to be.

      I suppose that couldn’t hurt, but everything I’ve seen suggests the public wants the CBC to be different things. Should we take a vote on which services should remain and which should be cut?

      Reply
      1. Bill

        The public wanting CBC to be different things is part of the problem. You can’t be everything to everyone, you’re going to spread your ever decreasing resources even thinner with decreasing results.

        How about going back to square one and focusing on their mandate

        http://www.cbc.radio-canada.ca/en/explore/mandate/

        Maybe a music service isn’t where they should be piling in, maybe they don’t need as many radio stations, maybe the local TV arms don’t need to be on the air 24/7.

        I don’t envy HLs position but he’s hardly alone in this regard.

        http://variety.com/2014/tv/news/bbc-plans-to-cut-extra-630-million-from-budget-1201366040/

        http://www.theguardian.com/media/live/2014/nov/24/abc-sbs-cuts-staff-to-learn-fate-after-government-slashes-budget-live-coverage

        Maybe HL should be on the phone to his counterparts to check out their plans to cope.

        Reply
  2. Andy Reid

    CBC needs to build on its strengths: news gathering and dissemination. A national radio network – the only one in the nation. So, what would I do?
    Bring commercials to Radio One. It is tops in many markets and thus, should generate needed cash flow. With more money coming in, they then can develop more quality programming and continue to expand news departments.

    With TV, merge the CBC News Network with the terrestrial network. Dump all entertainment programming – let the private sector do that. Keep news analysis programming [The Fifth Estate, Marketplace etc], and satirical programs. Close any cable only channels that do not make a profit.

    Later if the bottom line improves, start beefing up the sports department, aka the Olympics etc. It seems no other broadcaster wants these properties.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      With TV, merge the CBC News Network with the terrestrial network.

      What does that mean, exactly? Shut down CBCNN and make the terrestrial network all-news? The biggest problem with that is that the CBC would lose $68 million a year in subscription revenue for CBCNN (and $32 million more if they did the same with RDI).

      Close any cable only channels that do not make a profit.

      The CBC has only two in English — CBC News Network and Documentary. Both are profitable according to CRTC data. A third, Bold (formerly Country Canada) was sold to Blue Ant Media.

      Reply
    2. Brett Morris

      If you look at BBC they are doing well and they have entertainment programming. Maybe look at what BBC is doing and go in their direction.

      Reply
      1. Fagstein Post author

        If you look at BBC they are doing well and they have entertainment programming. Maybe look at what BBC is doing and go in their direction.

        The BBC gets money mainly from a tax on televisions. Should we implement a similar system in Canada?

        Reply
          1. Jake

            The problem is that the BBC has much more money for programming than the CBC thanks to the TV license fee (TV tax) which accounts for 80 per cent of the BBC’s budget which means the BBC can commission more expensive shows than the CBC.

            But more than that, trying to be the BBC just wouldn’t work for the CBC. While we often think of the BBC as being something of a serious or high-brow network, it’s not. BBC One, which is what the BBC spends most of its money on looks a lot more like a commercial American network than it looks like the CBC.

            The BBC’s most popular shows are low-brow soap operas like East Enders, the British version of The Apprentice and celebrity dancing competition show Strictly Come Dancing. The BBC also came up with the reality show Big Brother (can you imagine the outcry if CBC tried to make reality shows like that?) and Weakest Link, the game show noted for the nastiness of its host. None of that would fly on CBC.

            Radio programming is a similar story – BBC One and BBC Two are popular music stations – that play the same type of music commercial stations play here.

            Reply
  3. Andy Reid

    One other thing the CBC should seek: a modified mandate from the government. CBC maintains French transmitters throughout the country. Are all these needed? We have one here in Peterborough. Likewise, in Quebec, are all of those English transmitters listened to?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      CBC maintains French transmitters throughout the country. Are all these needed?

      For French speakers in those areas, yes. Ditto English speakers in rural Quebec. Often these transmitters are the only radio broadcasts they can hear in their own language. And it would seem to be very clearly part of the CBC’s mandate to provide these services.

      Reply
  4. Mario D

    There are a few things i would do that i think must be done if the CBC wants to get out of this crisis.

    I keep on hiting on the same nail but when you have 1000 employees in the network that are passed the age or retirement and at the same time you are getting rid of young employees you cannot tell me that you are looking forward towards the future. Deal with the situation now, sacrifice familiar voices and talent but get a new start.

    I used a word in the first part of my comment that is also an important part of the puzzle , it`s called network.
    On the french side of the CBC there is a huge underlined contradiction between the federal ownership of the state network and the need to protect Québec`s identity and the usual political BS. What about the reality of the rest of the canadian citizen`s in other provinces french or english ? What about those employees that work for the french tv viewers in the other provinces ? We barely hear about them and one would think that the ownership is totally different.

    There should also be a serious look given towards making it a canadian products oriented network only. There are way too many american broadcasts at prime time that should not be given that much place given the talent that we do have in Canada and also given now that there are soooo many specialized tv channels. Yes it does mean that sometimes we will not be able to compete but to think we can just because we use some key american product is hypocrit and does not help to face and solve the problem.

    There are steps to be taken before we talk about charging more for each cable subscibers for the CBC because this is the easy way out and makes it less vital to tackle the real issues.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      when you have 1000 employees in the network that are passed the age or retirement and at the same time you are getting rid of young employees you cannot tell me that you are looking forward towards the future.

      And CBC executives would agree with you. But how do you deal with that in a unionized workforce? Do you renegotiate your collective agreements, bargaining away something valuable in exchange for losing seniority, or risk another work stoppage through a lockout or strike? Or do you spend even more money offering buyouts to these aging employees?

      There are way too many american broadcasts at prime time

      Really? I just looked at the CBC Television schedule for the past week. Between 6pm and midnight, I found only two things that were not Canadian: The Sunday evening children’s movie and Coronation Street. Between 7pm and midnight, 100% of the schedule was Canadian programming. And CBC committed a while ago to keeping all of the 8-11pm hours Canadian.

      Reply
  5. Stéphane Dumas

    Maybe, they could try also some financing the same way as PBS. Also, they could let a little bit of more autonomy to the remaining affiliate tv stations. Instead of a 40-hour per week minimun of CBC content, it could be 38-hour per week. They could even sold some stations they had acquired around a decade ago, CKSH-TV Sherbrooke and CKTM-TV Trois-Rivières back to Cogeco.

    I heard an audio clip in French posted on November 8 who give a interesting rant about Radio-Canada http://www.radioego.com/ego/listen/17117

    And on a off-topic sidenote, I spotted this article about Netflix CEO who said then broadcast tv will be dead in 2030.
    http://betabeat.com/2014/11/netflix-ceo-broadcast-tv-will-be-dead-by-2030/

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Maybe, they could try also some financing the same way as PBS.

      PBS gets its funding from member stations, which get funding from viewers through pledge drives, and both the stations and the programming are also supported by nonprofit organizations and charities. It would be difficult to see such a model in Canada, since it would require CBC sell its local stations and then lose control over them.

      They could even sold some stations they had acquired around a decade ago, CKSH-TV Sherbrooke and CKTM-TV Trois-Rivières back to Cogeco.

      After its experience with TQS, I doubt Cogeco wants to get back into the local TV broadcasting industry.

      Reply
      1. Stéphane Dumas

        The experience with TQS (which they did with Bell) was awful but from what I heard in this French audio exterpt dated from April 15, 2014 about the cuts at Radio-Canada who aired on CIQI Montmagny with André Arthur as a guest. They mentionned at 5:49 then SRC forced Cogeco to sell CKSH and CKTM to them. http://www.radioego.com/ego/listen/15748

        Reply
  6. Daniel Freedman

    (edited to correct two typos)

    Having worked in management at both CTV and PBS, I would offer the following observations:

    (1) The fundamental CBC problem has always been its inability to decide whether having large audiences is a good thing or a bad thing.

    (2) When the CBC tries to beat commercial broadcasters at their own game, it loses. Every time. Nor is hiring commercial broadcasters as executives the answer. They are rejected as interlopers.

    (3) Many CBC employees are insufferably smug. They’re not quite sure capitalism is a good thing, and think moral exhortations for “full funding” should win the day — because the CBC is so important to Canadian culture. But they ignore the much-changed media landscape. And their work ethic could stand some improvement. They need to produce more and whine less. (Even though the whining is passionate and eloquent.)

    All that said, I still believe the CBC has a very important role to play, if only it would focus on what it does best — and ignores the rest. In other words, it should be more like PBS and less like CTV.

    Which brings us to the question: What would I do today if I were CBC President? (God forbid…it’s a godawful job…right up there with being Commissioner of Baseball or a university president: too many stakeholders, too little power.)

    (1) Tomorrow morning, I would tear down the obscene 20 foot posters of so-called CBC stars in the lobby of CBC HQ in Toronto. How about a Berlin Wall type of smashing ceremony, complete with sledgehammers?
    (Disgruntled employees dressed as peasants with pitchforks and torches would also be a nice touch.) The culture of celebrity is at the root of many of the CBC’s recent ills.

    (2) I would fire at least a half dozen senior managers who screwed up royally on the Ghomeshi fiasco.

    (3) I would give up the fight for increased government funding. It’s hopeless…under this government or any successor.

    (4) I would do everything possible to try to ensure my successor was appointed by the CBC board, and not the Prime Minister.

    (5) I would promote some talented CBC ex-journalist “lifers” from middle management to the newly vacated senior management roles. They would share my vision about a smaller CBC focussed on: journalism, documentaries, and the arts.

    (6) I certainly wouldn’t accept commercials on Radio 1. It sends all the wrong messages and wouldn’t bring in that much revenue.

    (7) How then to bridge the funding gap? Sadly, I would have to continue with the already announced layoffs. The jobs cannot be saved. The focus should be on a better allocation of resources on a a more focussed mission with fewer people who work harder and produce more.

    (8) Above all, I would stop measuring success in terms of stars and ratings and ad dollars.

    Reply ?

    Reply
  7. Dilbert

    Though I am almost certainly totally and utterly wrong and without merit, as the President of CBC I would have to go way back and deal with the biggest issues, which is the “legacy” parts of the CBC, and the legacy rules and restrictions. That means looking at all of the services provided under the banner of “CBC” and deciding what is what.

    I actually wrote a longer post then deleted it. The details of “what I would do” actually become irrelevant, because the only way to fix the CBC is to shut it down and start over. Some pieces might be worth saving, but the whole thing is weighed down by legacy costs, huge operating gaps between the french and english services, and a total loss of focus on the mandate assigned to it.

    Legacy costs, legacy facilities, legacy union contracts, and legacy operating mentalities make it impossible to “fix” CBC as it sits. The best idea is to start over with the following goals:

    Radio & TV, generally available in every Canadian market, in both English and French. For TV OTA, it would mean using a single transmitter and sub channels in each market to make sure both languages are available. In radio, it may mean making sure that the alternate language is AT MINIMUM available on AM radio throughout the country (as AM has pretty good coverage, especially at night).

    Start a new with new facilities (much smaller than current), with setups that are appropriate based on the operation and the budgets. Bell operates multiple radio stations in Montreal out of office space smaller than the CBC “company vehicle” parking lot. The new CBC would have to operate under similar circumstances, no more legacy buildings.

    You cannot fix the CBC as it is. The governments, the management, and the unions have all conspired to create something akin to Canadian Pacific Airlines – no longer able to compete, no longer able to operate. Times have changed, technology has changed.

    So as CBC president, my single act would be to pull the plug.

    Reply
  8. pefder magfrok

    bilingual tv show, show the real montreal quebec canada and stop the entrenched two solitudes bs. Because subtitles.

    Reply
  9. Richard

    They should be ashamed for blowing the NHL deal. I hated the Sportsnet deal at first but it ended up being the best thing that ever happened to Anglo Habs fans. I think CBC radio is worth saving, but without Sports the station is useless and should be privatized. CTV-TSN do the Olympics better…

    Reply
    1. Bytowner

      They were hobbled to ensure the Rogers deal – or another like it – happened.

      I still have use for the TV arm. And I’m not alone.

      Reply
  10. It's Me

    First and foremost, CBC has to get its costs under control by slashing jobs and a lot of them. The CBC is notorious for having a healthy slab of middle management which has to be slashed to the bare minimum. What that number is, its for those better in the know to figure out. Other staff should be chopped as well and ensure that those that are left have a no shortage of work to fill every second of their 8 hour work day. Contract out some non-essential roles or services where possible. I know this will be difficult to do in a unionized workplace, but it isn’t impossible.

    Every single business unit or service that is not making a profit and those who are not tied to the original mandate of the CBC should be shut down or sold. I don’t know what the financial profitability (or if there is any way in which it even generates a revenue at all) is for something like Radio-Canada International, Curio.ca, Radio 3, Radio 2, TOU.tv, CBC Music, stake in Sirius/XM Radio Canada, etc…., but if those two criteria are applicable, it should be slashed.

    Sell off a real estate and lease if it would be cheaper to do so.

    I like the idea of using the digital sub-channels for the minority language service in that area.

    I also like the idea of selling off all the stations to private companies and they become affiliates and let the private companies produce local programming and CBC handle the rest of the schedule and CBC subsidize the minority language service on the sub-channel if the private company won’t pay for it. Running a local station is too expensive, therefore, slash the costs altogether and let someone else run it.

    The CBC should be focusing solely on Canadian culture and the Canadian identity. No foreign programming unless there is a significant relation to its impact on Canadians. No silly Disney movies on Saturdays and even though I don’t watch it but still would kind of hate to see it go, but cut Coronation Street.

    Cut the Kids CBC block unless you want to create some shows they have an identifiable Canadian flair.

    Move to a more PBS-style and ask for funding from viewers. If it really is that valuable, then Canadians will show it with their pocket books, otherwise, maybe its not that important after all. Commercials can be sold during the private affiliates air-time only like local programming and any other programming they offer.

    Get out of the business of producing high-cost dramas and sitcoms. These can be produced by the private corporations. Focus on current affairs, news, documentary, satire, human interest/lifestyle, educational, live events (such as award shows, concerts, etc.) Canadian feature films, and maybe even reality shows if it makes sense. And in saying this, specifically when it comes to news, current affairs, documentary, etc., provide a more balanced approach rather than the liberal side which is all too prominent in CBC and most media or be 100% neutral. Also, provide a more balanced approach to addressing issues across the country as opposed to being so Toronto or Ontario-centric. And the same for Radio-Canada being Montreal-centric.

    Get out of professional sports programming altogether. Now that NHL is gone to Rogers, there is no need to be in sports any longer. Sports is something the private networks are all too willing to cover themselves. Let them do it. Is there any Canadian-centric professional or amateur sports programming left that the CBC can bother with airing that the private networks isn’t already covering or won’t cover if the CBC gets out of what they are covering now? I don’t know. But if there isn’t, then get out of it. And that counts the Olympics. It’s not worth the money and if you get rid of all the other sports programming, it certainly won’t be worth it to create a whole new sports department every 2 years just for the Olympics.

    And finally, if there is any way in which you can get rid of the blood-sucking unions, then do so with every once of might left in you.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      First and foremost, CBC has to get its costs under control by slashing jobs and a lot of them.

      Well it’s certainly doing that.

      The CBC is notorious for having a healthy slab of middle management which has to be slashed to the bare minimum.

      What’s your source for that analysis?

      I don’t know what the financial profitability (or if there is any way in which it even generates a revenue at all) is for something like Radio-Canada International, Curio.ca, Radio 3, Radio 2, TOU.tv, CBC Music, stake in Sirius/XM Radio Canada, etc…., but if those two criteria are applicable, it should be slashed.

      Services like Radio Canada International and Radio Two are there to fulfil the CBC’s mandate. Services like CBC Music and Tou.tv generate revenue through advertising and don’t cost much to run, so they’re either breaking even or making a slight profit.

      Running a local station is too expensive, therefore, slash the costs altogether and let someone else run it.

      How will it not be too expensive if someone else runs it?

      The CBC should be focusing solely on Canadian culture and the Canadian identity. No foreign programming unless there is a significant relation to its impact on Canadians. No silly Disney movies on Saturdays and even though I don’t watch it but still would kind of hate to see it go, but cut Coronation Street.

      CBC Television’s primetime schedule is almost 100% Canadian already, except for the aforementioned Disney movies and Coronation Street. And try cutting Coronation Street if you want to experience the wrath of Canadian Corrie fans.

      Cut the Kids CBC block unless you want to create some shows they have an identifiable Canadian flair.

      The CBC has a mandate to produce children’s programming, and eliminating that would be very controversial. Also, how do you determine if a children’s show has “an identifiable Canadian flair”? Does it need a flag in the background? References to Canadian history? Saying “eh?” at the end of every sentence?

      Get out of the business of producing high-cost dramas and sitcoms. These can be produced by the private corporations.

      They can, but they aren’t, except as mandated by the CRTC.

      Focus on current affairs, news, documentary, satire, human interest/lifestyle, educational, live events (such as award shows, concerts, etc.) Canadian feature films, and maybe even reality shows if it makes sense.

      Why are Canadian feature films good but Canadian dramas bad? Also, much of what you’re describing sounds like just having CBC Television simulcast CBC News Network.

      provide a more balanced approach rather than the liberal side which is all too prominent in CBC and most media or be 100% neutral.

      What’s your source for the statement that “the liberal side” is “all too prominent in CBC”? Kevin O’Leary?

      provide a more balanced approach to addressing issues across the country as opposed to being so Toronto or Ontario-centric. And the same for Radio-Canada being Montreal-centric.

      Increasing regional programming is expensive. Where would this money come from?

      Reply
      1. It's Me

        It’s been a common criticism of the CBC for awhile now that they are inefficient and have excessive levels of management that other private networks don’t have. It’s documented in articles, I don’t have one on the top of my head to provide, but a search online could likely gather a hit. Critics have brought it up especially when speaking about the job cuts CBC has announced in the past. This Hour has 22 Minutes even made a cheeky reference to it in past couple weeks when they did a Dragon’s Den skit.

        Where is it cited in legislation that the CBC needs to provide Radio 2 or even ici musique? Why do we need two radio networks in English and French? Why can’t they be combined into 1 national network in English and another in French if their programming is so essential or is mandated?

        If RCI is mandated, that we need an international service, then why can’t it be revised so that we can make a profit from it or at least earn some revenue from it so it isn’t a complete waste and drain on the budget? Why does it have to be in this form? They can do something with it, but choose to do with it what they are doing with it now.

        Where’s the source CBC Music or TOU.tv break even or make a profit? Even if it is the case, why is a public corporation entrenching on the grounds of private corporations where they can provide the same service? Really? Is there really a scarcity of music online that we need public money going into CBC Music? I find that hard to believe.

        First of all, you get the employees off the public dime and there’s no need to lease or own real estate and probably many other cost saving benefits there. It’ll likely be less costly for independent broadcasts (whether a small group of stations under common ownership like the Pattison Group or single-station entities) to operate the stations because they won’t have the same commitments a large group has when it comes ot producing programs of national interest, etc. All they’d have to do is produce local programming and that’s it. And they can try to do it on the cheap to save money there.

        There is more foreign programming on CBC now other than Disney movies and Coronation Street, there is the CBC Selects block of programming which is programming from other public broadcasters around the world. Some of that programming is Janet King and some others I believe. But it’s not just about it being Canadian on a technical basis in that it is produced and shot here in Canada, it should be distinctively Canadian, bringing to light our culture, regions, people, etc. Not to say CBC doesn’t do that right now, they do for the most part, but it also needs to extend to non-primetime and cover the entire schedule, counting kids programming. So something like Being Erica… yeah that’s a no-go for me and yes I realize it is cancelled and no longer airing but something similar could easily pop back up. And if people miss their Corrie, then that’s tough. If it’s so popular, then another network will pick it up.

        Where in legislation does it say CBC needs to broadcast kids programming? That’s a goal of the broadcasting system as a whole, but it isn’t a mandate of the CBC to specifically air it, unless I’m mistaken here. Identifiabley Canadian refers to the same thing for kids shows as it does for adult shows – showcase people, places, regions, culture, etc….. Yvon of the Yukon is a good example that comes to mind.

        They aren’t, but they should. I don’t even know if they even have to air any. I believe they have to air programs of national interest, dramas are only one aspect of that, but there are other options to choose from.

        Feature films are already produced which means you only have to buy them up for a fraction of the cost and we as Canadians don’t get quite as much access to Canadian films as we do TV dramas or foreign films. There’s lots of other categories of shows to air other than CBC News Network-type shows, that’s only a fraction of the types of shows they could air… films, human interest/lifestyle, music, reality, live events, nature, talk shows, etc. There is a ton of stuff to air.

        That’s always the same argument from opponents of the liberal media or CBC in general, but what about O’Leary or Cherry? Two lone examples (one of which isn’t on the network any more and the other is employed or contracted with Rogers I believe). Yet there is countless examples of a left-leaning bias if you want to call it that – 22 Minutes, Rick Mercer Report, Nature of Things, Doc Zone, Amanda Lang, a general pre-disposition to pounce on right-wing social issues while taking a lighter touch on left ones, etc.

        If we’re going to have a national public broadcaster, then we need to reflect he entire country, not just those in Ontario. I live in Ontario, so I’m not an Ontario-hater but there’s more to Canada then Ontario. It doesn’t mean you have to set up shop all over the country. I don’t care if they tape all their shows in Toronto, but cover and talk about issues that reflect the country as a whole. If you do a piece on Marketplace, why does it feel as though 75% of the time, it always involves something in Ontario. And I could go on but I digress….

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        1. Fagstein Post author

          If RCI is mandated, that we need an international service, then why can’t it be revised so that we can make a profit from it or at least earn some revenue from it so it isn’t a complete waste and drain on the budget?

          RCI’s situation is particular, because the CBC devastated it with cuts recently, and it’ll probably eventually be shut down for good because its main activity, shortwave broadcasting to the world, is no longer being done. But I can’t imagine a way to sell advertising or charge for RCI to make money.

          [Canadian programming] also needs to extend to non-primetime and cover the entire schedule, counting kids programming.

          OK. I think the CBC has enough Canadian programming in its schedule, but I suppose a 100%-Canadian schedule can be a mandate if you want to be dogmatic about it. The only problem is that now you lose the revenue from the foreign programming, and creating additional Canadian programming adds costs. So how do you pay for this? The CBC is trying to cut costs and increase revenue, not the other way around.

          Where in legislation does it say CBC needs to broadcast kids programming?

          Paragraph 3(d)iii of the Broadcasting Act mentions children specifically, though I suppose if you think children are served by non-children’s programming then you could get away with not having any. The CBC’s CRTC licence, however, is more clear on this. So as president you’d be required to maintain it.

          Feature films are already produced which means you only have to buy them up for a fraction of the cost and we as Canadians don’t get quite as much access to Canadian films as we do TV dramas or foreign films.

          “Already produced” is misleading here. Feature films, particularly Canadian feature films, are financed taking into consideration all the release windows, including television. And the reason we don’t have as much access to Canadian films is because there aren’t as many of them. All Canadian feature films air on The Movie Network.

          There’s lots of other categories of shows to air other than CBC News Network-type shows, that’s only a fraction of the types of shows they could air… films, human interest/lifestyle, music, reality, live events, nature, talk shows, etc. There is a ton of stuff to air.

          So CBC shouldn’t air Canadian comedies and dramas because private broadcasters do that, but it should air human interest, music and reality shows because…?

          Two lone examples…

          Rex Murphy would be three. Andrew Coyne would be four. And we’re just talking about commentators, of which there aren’t too many at CBC.

          Yet there is countless examples of a left-leaning bias if you want to call it that – 22 Minutes, Rick Mercer Report, Nature of Things, Doc Zone, Amanda Lang, a general pre-disposition to pounce on right-wing social issues while taking a lighter touch on left ones, etc.

          How are 22 Minutes and Rick Mercer left-wing? I’ll give you David Suzuki, and Amanda Lang was meant to be a counterpart to O’Leary, but I don’t accept as a given that CBC is by nature left-wing. Alain Saulnier, the former Radio-Canada news director, asked an independent body to review bias in news coverage, and the report found there wasn’t any.

          It doesn’t mean you have to set up shop all over the country. I don’t care if they tape all their shows in Toronto, but cover and talk about issues that reflect the country as a whole.

          That’s easier said than done when you’re not in the region and your staff doesn’t live in the region. Especially if, as you indicate, it’s about how it “feels”.

          Reply
          1. It's Me

            Clearly my use of the HTML codes didn’t work out too well, so I won’t bother doing that again.

            Fagstein : “OK. I think the CBC has enough Canadian programming in its schedule, but I suppose a 100%-Canadian schedule can be a mandate if you want to be dogmatic about it. The only problem is that now you lose the revenue from the foreign programming, and creating additional Canadian programming adds costs. So how do you pay for this? The CBC is trying to cut costs and increase revenue, not the other way around.”

            It’s Me: The CBC can save costs by implementing all the other scenarios I had mentioned previously. And since the vast majority is already Canadian, then it isn’t that much more to produce.

            Fagstein: “Paragraph 3(d)iii of the Broadcasting Act mentions children specifically, though I suppose if you think children are served by non-children’s programming then you could get away with not having any. The CBC’s CRTC licence, however, is more clear on this. So as president you’d be required to maintain it.”

            It’s Me: That section of legislation you cite does not refer specifically to the CBC and programming it must air, it refers to the broadcasting system as a whole which is well served by children;s programming. The CBC’s CRTC licence, what that says, I don’t know but I somehow doubt it’s specifically mentions it having to air children’s programming and if it does, does it need to air so much? And this is all a moot point in a way if the CBC went commercial-free and adopted a PBS-style format. So, in other words, air all the kids programming you want, but it should be Canadian and identifiably Canadian.

            Fagstein: ““Already produced” is misleading here. Feature films, particularly Canadian feature films, are financed taking into consideration all the release windows, including television.”

            It’s Me: I don’t understand the point being made here. For the CBC to pick up the broadcast rights to feature films will be substantially less than if it were to produce an original one hour drama or even a sitcom. The cost savings for the CBC is substantial.

            Fagstein: “So CBC shouldn’t air Canadian comedies and dramas because private broadcasters do that, but it should air human interest, music and reality shows because…?”

            It’s Me: the point here is that dramas and sitcoms cost a lot to produce, much more than the other categories with the exception of news one could assume, but news is obviously something you can”t ignore and if you want to develop a national public broadcaster with a mandate that the CBC has, it can’t be ignored. If the CBC wants to air dramas, go ahead, but find a way to substantially lower the cost to make them worthwhile to produce or have a small block of retro Canadian scripted programs on the weekend. The point here is to lower costs, right? So, cut out the fat with the programming that costs most.

            In reference to the left-wing comments, 22 Minutes and Mercer are left-wing in the same way the Daily Show and Colbert Report are left-wing. They’ll goof on the liberals and NDP like they do the Conservatives, but it’s not nearly as much or as satirically intense and often it seems as though when they do goof on the liberals, it’s more of a “get your act together, you’re better than that”, as if its coming from a friend. Maybe you don’t watch those shows, but I do, and I see it.

            And when it comes to the news, of course there is the liberal bias, it’s not just the CBC, it’s a lot of mainstream media. Whenever someone says something that is of a social conservative skew, its always labelled as “controversial” or something along those lines and they always persistently challenge the speaker, but the most wacky liberal social ideas are often considered as the norm and are treated as just the regular run-of-mill idea and are not nearly treated the same.

            I’m speaking a bit in general terms here now and I don’t want to get off topic from the general CBC discussion, but I’ll make one quick point, but the police and race issues happening in the US right now is a perfect example. If you are someone who dares to actually express thoughts about how the grand jury made the right decision in not convicting the police officer in Ferguson, you’re making a shocking statement, it’s controversial statement. Take Charles Barkley’s statements and the interviewer’s statements on CNN after the interview was over. Oh but if you say they made the wrong decision and you understand how the protesters feel, oh that’s perfectly fine. To say or suggest that there isn’t a liberal bias is just disingenuous.

            Reply
            1. Fagstein Post author

              Clearly my use of the HTML codes didn’t work out too well, so I won’t bother doing that again

              WordPress comments use standard HTML: <blockquote>text</blockquote>

              The CBC’s CRTC licence, what that says, I don’t know but I somehow doubt it’s specifically mentions it having to air children’s programming and if it does, does it need to air so much?

              The conditions of licence specifically state that 15 hours a week of programming on CBC Television must be for children under age 12. And another five hours are expected to be devoted to programming for youth age 12-17.

              For the CBC to pick up the broadcast rights to feature films will be substantially less than if it were to produce an original one hour drama or even a sitcom.

              That may or may not be true, depending mainly on how old the film is. Keep in mind a film airs once, whereas a series has multiple episodes.

              cut out the fat with the programming that costs most.

              I think a lot of people would dispute your suggestion that scripted comedies and dramas are “fat”. Using a food analogy, it’s more like they’re meat, and you’re advocating going to an entirely sugar-based diet because sugar is cheaper by the pound.

              If you are someone who dares to actually express thoughts about how the grand jury made the right decision in not convicting the police officer in Ferguson, you’re making a shocking statement, it’s controversial statement.

              And if you’re an athlete who makes a hands-up gesture walking onto the field before a football game, that’s also controversial.

              Reply
              1. It's Me

                That may or may not be true, depending mainly on how old the film is. Keep in mind a film airs once, whereas a series has multiple episodes.

                I think it’s pretty certain that picking up a film to air on TV, just like a rerun, is cheaper than producing your own TV drama, generally. Private TV networks make the argument all the time, that’s just one reason why they rely so heavily on US network shows because it is so much cheaper than making their own content. And I’m pretty sure picking up US network shows cost more to broadcast on TV then a Canadian film.

                Of course they can be done on the cheap. I know of a couple small digital cable channels that have aired original scripted content – IFC a number of years ago aired a mockumentary about a fake band, Bite TV produced a number of short-form single-camera sitcoms, OUTtv aired some full-length drama series that were suppoedly originals (although OUTtv’s parent company is a TV producer). So if those channels could air original scripted-fare, I’m sure it can be done on the cheap. But, to expect a national broadcast network to be able to deliver a similar one hour TV drama or sitcom on the same budget, just isn’t going to happen. But like I said previously, if they can do it on the cheap, by all means, air all the dramas they want, but it won’t happen.

                To your other point, films are typically run for 2 hours on TV, double the time for a TV drama, quadruple that for a sitcom. And you can typically get more than one airing out of the film and you can bulk buy and get a load of films for a cheaper price. Overall, it will cost much less than producing your own scripted content.

                I think a lot of people would dispute your suggestion that scripted comedies and dramas are “fat”.

                I won’t dispute the argument that sitcoms, and more so dramas are considered the top of the line content and bring in the biggest viewers… typically. Just think AMC, AMC is what it is today because of its scripted dramas it produced. But, for the CBC to produce a drama and make it worthwhile to produce, weighing the costs against the revenue it brings in from it, I think is a hard argument to make. I don’t know the CBC’s finances and how much money it makes from its dramas or loses from its dramas, but I can imagine they’re in the red.

                And if you’re an athlete who makes a hands-up gesture walking onto the field before a football game, that’s also controversial.

                Yes, not that it doesn’t happen on the other side, but it isn’t nearly as much.

  11. Adam

    For whatever reason, Hubert Lacroix isn’t a beloved figure among the CBC unions and citizens who want more funding for the public broadcaster. But it’s unclear exactly what their problem is with him.

    So Harper appoints a mergers and acquisitions lawyer with no media management experience, who happens to be a Conservative donor, to head the CBC. Now, when faced with drastic cuts Lacroix does not appear putting up much of a fight. I think’s it pretty clear what their problem is with him.

    Reply

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