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MAY 5, 2014
It's time for a sexy CBC
The CBC is doomed... again. There's really no other way to start this column. For years the public broadcaster's budget has been hacked away to, well, I can't say next to nothing because it is still getting a billion-something per year, right?
It was announced earlier this spring that funding will be cut again and the corporation needs to retool. They've done it before and they'll keep doing it until, well, until the CBC is killed off.
Hockey Night in Canada has been a big draw for audiences over the past few decades. I remember as a kid going to my grandparents' house Saturday nights and knowing the theme song and watching with family.
The iconic theme song has gone elsewhere. And games are going to other TV networks.
Ditto for Olympics coverage. After several years of CTV/TSN having the broadcast rights to the Games, your tax dollars -- hundreds of millions of them for the 2014 Winter Games (CBC execs wouldn't say exactly how much they paid) -- were spent to bring events you could watch on NBC, where a private American company spent money to broadcast to the U.S., and technically on local NBC stations we get in Canada. But for some reason we needed our own anchors, reporters and experts there.
Aside from sports, CBC isn't known as a mover and shaker when it comes to developing compelling content. Arguably, Dragons' Den is the most mainstream success the network has. Even that is a knockoff of a reality show from another country.
But I'm not sure the public gives the public broadcaster a chance. Think about it: how many people view the CBC and CBC Radio as stuffy, dull, artsy and snobby? Generations of people have been taught to view the CBC as an outlet to celebrate cultural heritage and diversity and artsy snobbery.
I hate to say it: audiences want sexy when it comes to programming. There is nothing sexy about cultural diversity -- at least not that the CBC has been able to discover.
So what is the solution? Honestly, if the feds are so set on dismantling the public broadcaster, perhaps it is a matter of sexing up its mandate and trying to make money from it. How could that happen? I'm sure the government can come up with a way to siphon money and divert it to the CBC.