Canadian Television: A Modest Proposal

Facing a budget shortfall due to dwindling ad revenue, the CBC/Radio-Canada has announced job reductions and is cutting programmes. News of these developments have reached the commenters at The Globe and Mail, the National Post, and

It’s an accepted fact that the people who take the time to comment on news stories are a clear representation of the national pulse. And really, we should be thanking them for taking time out of their busy days to offer their balanced, insightful views of our national broadcaster. The CBC, they say, offers nothing but a left-wing, Toronto-centric, fresh vegetables-eating view of Canada. I mean, have you seen Hans Hans: Hammer and Sykkel?

They point out, quite correctly, that nobody watches the original programming broadcast by the public broadcaster for the simple reason that it’s Canadian, and therefore it can’t be very good. Or if it’s not good, it’s Canadian. Therefore, the simple answer is to shut it down completely. 

Canadians want unfettered access to superior American programming, which the private broadcasters are only too happy to provide. Sure, the CRTC mandates that they have to air Canadian shows of their own and provide Ben Mulroney with employment but in exchange, they get simulcast substitution. This allows the cable companies to switch feeds. When you’re watching, say, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ on ABC, and CTV is broadcasting it at the same time, you see the CTV feed on that channel so that you’re not deprived of the experience of watching Canadian commercials (that is, if you’re not speeding through them on your PVR anyway).

They call themselves broadcasters but in their hearts, they’re simulcasters. And we love them for it.

But again, this deprives Canadians of what they really want: complete and unrestricted access to American television direct from the source. So when there is a call for the CBC to be privatized or shut down, I think that is far too timid and just doesn’t go far enough. What really needs to happen to satisfy all Canadians is for all Canadian broadcasters to close up shop and call it a day. ‘Corner Gas’ is done, what else do we need the private networks for?

Now, this may satisfy our need to see American dramas, comedies, and, most importantly, reality programming, but what about sports? Well, our own NHL teams haven’t been doing so well lately so it’s clear that our teams simply don’t measure up to the superior American based ones. In that sense, our sports teams are like our TV shows. You gotta compete on that open market. And really, why should I be forced to watch a Leafs or a Habs game when what we all really want to see is The Anaheim Ducks? But, should ESPN feel that there is an audience for these Canadian games, you can rest assured they will air them. Possibly even in prime time. If there isn’t a major poker tournament that night.

As for local news, does anything happen in this country that is worth reporting anyway? The privates have been getting out of that business for some time by cutting staff and closing down stations but, again, if anything happens in Canada that’s worth reporting, we can rest assured that the U.S. news stations will cover it. If the story involves explosions. And if Octo-Mom hasn’t done anything today.

Other than providing a medium for advertisers, what else are the airwaves for?


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