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How would you reimagine the CBC? Add to ...

3. The CBC should be out of sports completely. The private networks do sports very well.

4. The CBC should reflect French Canada to English Canada and English Canada to French Canada, so that both linguistic communities can better understand each other. The CBC is the only broadcaster – public or private – able to do this.

A CBC that looked like this would provide an enormously valuable service that is unavailable from the private sector.

Bramwell Tovey, music director, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

After the announcements of this week’s cuts at CBC it’s clear that the traditional blueprint for public broadcasting, still followed successfully in Britain and Australia, has failed in Canada. Government support for CBC has waned and the corporation has lost curatorial focus.

Under Herbert Lacroix, CBC has lost over 2,000 jobs since 2009, lost public support and, most importantly, ceased to be an icon of idealism. Lacroix has failed to win allies on Parliament Hill and as the hockey debacle clearly shows, he does not have the skill set to negotiate the exploitation of CBC’s considerable commercial value.

If CBC were a listed corporation the shareholders would vote him out. He should do the honourable thing and resign.

The opening line of CBC’s current strategic plan brings further confusion:

“Our new five-year strategy 2015: Everyone, Every Way, recognizes that the public broadcaster can’t be all things to all people.”

Over-extended by numerous collective agreements negotiated in better times, support for public broadcasting declines as the corporation dumbs down in pursuit of better ratings. Arresting the slide will take more than The Grateful Dead, Miley Cyrus and The Spice Girls (all featured on CBC this week.) Besides, why is CBC duplicating the independent sector? And why is 5 per cent of the programming budget being wasted on the tabloid-style music website?

As at the BBC, much greater use should be made of independent producers. Personally, I’d love to see creative figures like Robert Lepage or Murray Schafer let loose at a few hours a week on CBC Radio 2 – as Lepage said in a recent interview:

“Forget global, think local – then you’ll be universal.”

Imagine that as the opening line of CBC’s next strategic plan.

Bill Richardson, former CBC radio host

The CBC. Is the problem one of money or one of faith? I’m not sure why I raise the question; even if it could be answered, nothing would be solved. Public Broadcasting – as we understand it in Canada – is like God. You believe in it or you don’t. And if it’s about money, well, we’re hooped there, too. Hockey or no hockey, there’s never going to be enough to satisfy the requirements of the believers, and the nay-sayers will always find a way to whine about the lavish feed disbursed to the hogs at the trough.

So maybe the path to re-imagining the CBC is to look at what works, or seems to work, on the existing service. Whether you appreciate it, or whether you don’t – and no program makes me shout at the radio more – Q works. It doesn’t belong to radio or television or the Web, it ably straddles “platforms,” as apparently we’re meant to call them. It’s been smartly constructed, deliberately positioned, it’s informed by youthful sensibilities, and it has an international fan base.

If someone made me God for a minute, I’d unplug the CBC, all of it, for a month. I’d say to the executive producer of Q, your job is to create a vibrant radio service that somehow manages to take the rest into account. Make radio that works as TV. That’s the brief. Otherwise, there are no rules. You can kill whoever needs killing. Sell all the buildings. Thirty days from now, we’ll meet at some Tim Hortons and you can show what you’ve come up with. Then we’ll see what we can do about getting back to Eden.

Mark Damazer, CBE, Master St Peter’s College, Oxford, and former BBC executive

The great tradition of public service broadcasting in Canada is just about clinging on – and now minus its ice puck. Public service broadcasting is a great and noble ideal about the value of information, education and entertainment for citizens, not for consumers. Of course we are all also consumers too – but at its best public service broadcasting plays to our aspirations and curiosity and asks its audiences to sample points of view and modes of expression – in every field – that may not entirely accord with our prejudices, or with received wisdom. Fight for that.

I do not know enough about how best the programming should be orchestrated to convince the public that the CBC should not be whittled out of existence – that it is part of a valuable Canadian identity and that its abolition would be a serious loss to many millions of people. But perhaps, despite the job cuts , getting hold of young talent – and ensuring that the main networked news programs are better, more rounded, deeper than anything provided by the commercial sector – is a tactic. Others will know better.

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