Sunday, August 07, 2011

How the CBC does not win friends and fails to influence people

For the longest time the CBC has been accused of outright Liberal bias. That they have a socialist agenda they want to push. This, and the apparent success of Fox News in the USA has led to the creation of Sun News in Canada, a specialty news channel with a decidedly right wing perspective. Supposedly there is a vacuum and Sun Media wants to fill it (with hot air or otherwise).

The CBC has its defenders. "Friends of the CBC" is a group that does not want to see the dismantling of public broadcasting in Canada. But even they can't be happy with many of the poor decisions being made out of the CBC.

I don't personally believe the so called Liberal bias with the CBC is in any way as blatant as Sun News' bias on the flip side. That said, it is perplexing to me that the CBC follows almost in lock-step with the conventional broadcasters with the CRTC on most old media issues.

In the USA PBS is the public broadcaster and needs to collect donations. I'll bet the CBC would hate to be pushed to do telethons for funding. However, in the USA, PBS made sure to be accessible to their entire audience over the air in high definition.. with some supplimental digital sub-channels thrown in. The digital over the air conversion for PBS was an opportunity to expand their audience. To the CBC, however, it's an expense not worth investing in. They had to be dragged kicking and screaming to put digital towers in Winnipeg, Calgary, and Edmonton. Whats more amazing is they have no intent to cover London, Ontario in digital. This is maddening to me on two fronts. Border cities often put the CBC on their cable packages because the CBC is available over the air. This gives border cities in the USA a Canadian perspective that they wouldn't normally get. The CBC should be in as many American cities that it can possibly reach.. it's goal should be to reach as many Canadians as possible and there is a sizeable amount in the USA and even then, a secondary goal of educating others about Canada is an equally worthwhile one.

The CBC however seems primarily interested in the digital sub-channel market and making money there. They made their bed with the rest of the industry, at least television wise (Radio is run fairly well and the internet site is reasonably serviceable)

When repeatedly presssed, CBC bigshots respond to people concerned with lost access with "You can get it on Cable or Satellite". This is akin to shutting down CBC Radio and telling people they can get it via Sirius XM. If this was CTV, there'd be no problem. If they want to go exclusive to cable carriage, they can lose their sim-sub rights. problem solved. But for the CBC, who receive tax dollars as funding, to act in such a callous disregarding manner, it is insulting.

They say they can't find the funding. They had years to prepare, and they were banking on more federal funds to cover the switch. They were banking on a one in a million chance and gambled with the future of the public broadcaster. No amount of friends can defend the actions of the CBC on this foolishness. They had the option to put up a single tower and share it temporarily with another channel. This is called multi-plexing and is entirely possible with digital signals. The HD quality wouldn't be as great, but the CBC could have easily shared a tower with the french language channel. One in HD one in SD. But the CBC didn't even consider it as a possibility. They would rather SHUT DOWN ENTIRELY a channel than consider a technical solution on a part time basis. They want to keep running in Analogue in various cities. The CRTC would be insane to let them.

So the CBC clearly are incompetent you might say, but at least they're still providing the Canadians they do with top notch news. Well, I don't know about that either. Many people are fed up with the CBC's news coverage as well. The CBC should be using their position to cover stories without the potential bias the other networks have. CTV is owned by Bell. Rogers owns City TV (and does the bare minimum to keep it running), Global is owned by Shaw. All of the channels you watch on TV are owned by consortiums owned by these companies. The CRTC allowed this. Now that the internet is around and can be used to watch shows, They want to stifle the internet in Canada (They own all of the tubes) for their own benefit. How often do you hear about this on the CBC?

Have you ever noticed how the quality of shows on basic channels degraded as more and more specialty channels were allowed to lock up content? Imagine a future where you can't watch hockey over the air on hockey night in Canada. CTV now owns the rights, and you've got to pay to watch it on TSN or TSN 2. It's what they did with the CFL.

People who hate the CBC always want to tear it down and sell it off. If you owned a car from the 50's that didn't run very well, your first instinct would be to try to fix it. The only people who really want to tear it apart are the ones with their own cars who want to get the parts off you for a cheap price. I'd be weary of anyone who bleats that the CBC should be disassembled as having their own competing interests at play. However, the CBC has done very poorly lately in justifying their existence.

I don't know who composes the friends of the CBC.. I suspect a fair amount of members are self-serving ex-CBC'ers, but in my opinion a true friend is one who calls someone on their antics and puts them on the right track, not someone who defends the stupidity of their friend at all costs.

I truly hope the CBC gets itself on the right track. And I can't wait until the end of the month when I can FINALLY watch it in high definition over the air in Winnipeg.


John Dobbin said...

I agree that the radio network has done a reasonably good job of serving the market.

I don't know that we can expect a lot of changes on the TV side. The push to end the CBC will continue to be strong. I expect cuts every year and maybe a full network review soon.

reedsolomon.matr1x at said...

it's such a waste. We have the poorest run public tv in the western world IMHO. So much wasted potential and poorly spent money.

reedsolomon.matr1x at said...

Amusingly, I emailed the head of the CBC/Radio Canada last month and I finally got a response today a day after my blog post. Is it coincidence? Probably. But the timing is so suspicious.

I wonder if I should divulge what I learned from that email? Nothing new, really. Well here's the gist of it:

Mostly they really seem to think at the CBC they will be allowed to keep their analogue signals running. And they really seem to believe that over the air is a dead medium. They've made their bed with the cable cartels at their own peril. It's quite pathetic, actually. They appear to have drank their own kool-aid. I wonder how people lower on the CBC rung feel about the incompetent way the company is being run.