De-fund the CBC. It’s such a conservative thing to say, isn’t it? De-funding the CBC has been a polarizing topic between the left and the right for years. But I’m not approaching this issue from a left or right viewpoint. I’m approaching it from a value-for-investment viewpoint.
In the year 2012, is there any reason we need a state-funded multimedia broadcaster? With literally a world full of movies, TV shows, videos, music, and news content at our Internet fingertips, is there any reason to have to pay $1 billion a year for a Canadian company to provide all of it? The answer is painfully obvious. Of course we don’t.
Why on Earth would anyone want to keep the public broadcaster? Is it for its “Canadian content?” Well, that hardly makes sense. I could perhaps see an argument back when the CBC was putting out original content like “This Hour has Seven Days,” but that ship has sailed.
What other media organization could ignore its base so steadfastly and remain in business? Most people have realized the CBC mainly regurgitates American programming, has limited local news, and simply turn the channel. Worse still, despite the exorbitant cost of running the CBC, it has some of the longest commercials of any network.
“Friends” of the CBC say it’s important to save Canadian content programming. But, what are they talking about? What CBC shows are made in Canada today? And who, pray tell, watches these shows?
It’s almost as though the CBC proponents have buried their head in the sands of 1956, and refuse to acknowledge the rest of the world has moved on to the instant gratification of the Internet. Protect Canadian content? From what? Unless the CBC has the powers to block the Internet, the war was lost years ago with video on demand. The CBC today is sort of like a government-funded Blockbuster Video.
The argument that the CBC has to be government funded because it gives Canadian television actors and movie producers an opportunity they wouldn’t ordinarily get doesn’t really cut muster in 2012. It’s easier to produce an Indie film and debut it on YouTube than to waste your time running it past a CBC executive.
Look, I get it. I understand why people feel protective, and even patriotic of the CBC. I grew up with the same shows as everybody else, remember the same things. Back in the ’80s when nobody could get a TV channel to work at the cottage, we could play the Stanley Cup Finals between the Edmonton Oilers and the New York Islanders with rabbit ears pointed just the right way toward Toronto.
My dad used to listen to Peter Gzowski and CBC Radio One’s As it Happens. One of the strongest memories of my father is coming home from school and hearing the familiar refrain over that black transistor radio while he was doing the dishes or cooking dinner.
Back when there were two or three stations on TV, it made sense to have the CBC. What did one watch on the boob tube? Well, whatever was on the CBC, of course. What else would one watch? A movie on Betamax?
But look, it’s not the ’80s anymore. There are thousands and thousands of TV channels in every country of the world I can watch immediately at the click of a mouse button. There are tens of thousands of movies I can download whenever I want. There are millions of websites I can view at the slightest whim. The state-funded CBC providing Canadian-made content or not has no relevance in any of those decisions.
It’s not about hating or liking the CBC. If you like the CBC so much, make it a not-for-profit public broadcaster and donate to it like TVO (although the public Ontario broadcaster does receive provincial funding). It’s not like I’m lobbying to get Canadians to pay for movies and TV shows that I like. Why force me to spend tax dollars on something I don’t need?
I don’t want to give the impression the CBC is a complete asset loss. Although I don’t find much of the programming very interesting, I do like The Passionate Eye, and I listen to the radio now and then on the way in to work. I don’t like the radio too much, since much like the TV it gets killed by the private sector for local news.
The journalists and other people working for the CBC are skilled and valuable people who do great work. As a company with long history, it attracts some prime talent, and competitors like CTV, Sun News Network, and others would be lying through their teeth if they said they wouldn’t love to have a bunch of CBC employees defect.
There’s clearly value within the CBC and in the shows it produces. I just don’t think that with the operating losses the company posts it’s really providing a value to taxpayers that commensurate with our investment. It’s time to de-fund the CBC and let it sink or swim, or else sell it to the private sector.
That’s not a left or rightwing statement. It’s just something anybody with common sense should be willing to accept in 2012. It’s just time to move on.