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How would Bramwell Tovey reimagine the CBC?

Bramwell Tovey writes:

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.

Bramwell Tovey and others., Globe and Mail
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