In the annals of peculiar CBC manoeuvres, the decision not to carry live TV coverage of Toronto’s municipal-election results is not that notable. It’s just typical.
The other day, CBC TV made it clear that it will air Murdoch Mysteries and Frankie Drake Mysteries on Monday evening, as usual, in the Toronto region. It is certainly not going to pre-empt those masterpieces of mystery shenanigans to cover the results of the mayoral race and the first reduced-council election. If you want that kind of politics stuff, you can go online. That’s where the action is, says CBC.
Far be it from you or me, mere citizens, taxpayers and consumers, to quarrel with this. CBC knows best when it comes to the news and the public broadcaster went its own eccentric way some time ago. I mean, it’s not as though the elections in Toronto and nearby are about Prince Harry and his wife Meghan. Now that would be news. They’re having a baby for heaven’s sake. Or, events in Venezuela. That’s what you call news at CBC HQ.
I put it to you that everything about CBC News has been idiosyncratic since The National started being anchored by what appears to be a five-a-side-soccer team. You just never know what you’ll get.
Take Sept. 10 of this year. That’s the day Ontario Premier Doug Ford reacted to a court decision by announcing, in a lather, that he would invoke the notwithstanding clause to force a reduction in Toronto City Council. This was a gobstopper of a reaction from a premier. The country was gobsmacked.
Says I to myself, I’ll check out The National tonight to get the lowdown on the notwithstanding clause. Experts will explain. Historical context will be given. The meat and drink of the news story.
What on earth was I thinking? I should have known that Adrienne Arsenault was at the border between Venezuela and Colombia. That was the main news of the day. Of course it was. Adrienne Arsenault announced, “Tonight we are in Colombia, a country bearing the brunt of a desperate, growing exodus.” Well now, I remarked to myself, things are bad in Venezuela! That’s news. And it really must be important news because the first 14 minutes of The National was taken up with this issue. If I wanted the lowdown on the notwithstanding clause, Premier Doug Ford and the chaotic election situation in the largest city in the country, I would have to go elsewhere. So I did..
Get used to it people. The CBC decides what’s news and you and I just pay for it. We should just leave it to them, the experts.
Besides, think about the advertisers. I beseech you, think about the advertisers! Just as CBC TV does. The companies that advertise on Murdoch Mysteries and Frankie Drake Mysteries cannot possibly be expected to tolerate this local democracy thing and not have their wares peddled on one evening in October. That would be like socialism or such. If you want that kind of thing you can turn over to CTV in Toronto. CTV is going to offer local election coverage, starting at 8 p.m. Let’s see where that kind of civic duty gets it.
CBC TV’s devotion to its advertisers is a remarkable thing. It should be remarked upon more often, actually. And to that end, I would point out that if you watch an hour-long drama on CBC TV you will be treated to advertising interruptions willy-nilly, at every and all possible opportunities. Now, to you and me, that might cause the heebeejeebies. Or cause us to lose interest in ever watching an hour-long drama on CBC TV again. But, in fairness, you have to stand back from all that and acknowledge that CBC TV never saw an ad that it couldn’t insert inappropriately into a drama series. It is an expert at it. A champion.
Further, and I won’t keep you much longer because I know you’ve had it up the eyeballs with CBC TV already, the public broadcaster is a highly trusted brand in this neck of the woods. Why, the other day, same day as the announcement about non-coverage of the Toronto–area elections, the president of the CBC was on Twitter boasting about this. Catherine Tait announced to her 637 followers that according to something called “the Proof Inc. CanTrust Index”, CBC/Radio Canada is Canada’s mot trusted brand. It’s just ahead of Google, actually. She says.
There are various ways to react to this act of boasting to your 637 followers. You could call it jejune. You could just laugh. I mean, if you can’t buy trust with a billion dollars in funding, what are you going to get?
But your best bet is to keep in mind this is about the advertisers. They gotta trust CBC and must believe that the public trusts CBC. You and me, with our elections and expectations of gathering around the TV to watch election-night coverage, we’re nobodies.
Typical of us to expect better of CBC TV. Just typical. Nothing to see here, people, just move along.
Editor’s note: Oct. 20, 2018: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Anna Maria Tremonti was in Colombia and Venezuela for The National. In fact, it was Adrienne Arsenault.