A proposal to restructure the CBC

This was sent to me by a longtime CBC viewer who calls himself “An Independent Conservative From Calgary.” He sent a first draft of this to Stephen Harper, and I post his second draft here for your perusal, with the author’s permission.

There are many Canadians who are aware of the variety of entertainment that the CBC English TV network once used to provide. This has not been the case for at least the past ten years. Even the CBC French TV network used to have the occasional program that an English speaking viewer could watch. This is no longer the case.

Too many people working in the CBC News Department appear to exhibit an obvious left-leaning bias that offends many of the people who are not beholden to the Liberal Party of Canada or to the NDP.

These are just some of the basic reasons why the CBC is failing to attract viewers to their television networks and to their radio networks. They can no longer live on past achievements. They must change or die.

In the current television world, the word “Makeover” has become part of many television programs. Now I would like to apply this word to all of the CBC television and radio networks.

Therefore, a new Conservative Government should give the CBC some new funding, a new management team, some new content, and a new programming philosophy. The news department will be purged of most of the Liberal lefties that are working there. There will also be more of an emphasis on a broader range of world news. There are a lot of day-to-day stories going on in the world that Canadians should know about – not just the major tragedies.

To make CBC-TV worthwhile watching again for former viewers, for current viewers and for new viewers (most of whom are immigrants to Canada).

It was interesting to see that NDP policy agrees that the CBC requires a makeover. The author of this report has a proposal that will make a major change to the overall programming philosophy of the CBC-TV networks. Instead of looking like a mainstream network, it will look like a Hybrid Network. However, before this change can be made, the new CBC will still require a variety of new programming content (most of which is inexpensive).

Since the American networks will soon be switching over to HDTV, the CBC will also require some new HDTV equipment.

This restructuring will become a Major Makeover that will bruise many egos. Some old jobs will be eliminated and some new jobs will be created.

A new Conservative Government should be prepared to provide at least 500 million dollars of new funding to the new CBC in the first 18 months. Most of this new money will be to develop new programming of all types in Canada and offshore.

If this proposal can be implemented successfully, then many more people will become regular viewers of CBC television, and many more people will be listening to CBC Radio.

The new CBC may still resemble a public broadcaster in some ways, but it will be operating much more like a private enterprise broadcaster.

This network will be converted into an entertainment network.

The National News Program will move over to CBC Newsworld. There will still be some news programming on this network, but it will be in a different format.

In some ways, CBC-TV should return to its roots. There will be a diverse range of variety music and dance programs added to the schedule. The CBC will once again establish its own group of musicians, singers and dancers. The CBC will also provide a lot of new opportunities for Canada’s symphony orchestras and their musicians. A diverse range of other musicians and singers from other musical genres from inside and outside of Canada will also be offered an opportunity to perform.

The primary English language musical repertoire would be in the period 1930-1970.

From 1971 to the present, we will be very selective in what we choose to offer our Canadian viewers. For example, ABBA and Blondie are two groups that have a repertoire of acceptable music for this network.

The various ethnic communities in Canada will have an opportunity to showcase their music and dance in a variety of entertainment formats.

There are many musical genres that are seldom heard anymore in Canada. The best artists or groups in those niches will be offered an opportunity to record their repertoire onto a medium that can be broadcast later on TV or Radio. This will provide these artists with an initial payment for their repertoire plus some ongoing royalties.

The primary goal of the music played on this network is to make people feel good.

The CBC will also broadcast more sports on a regular basis. Some of this programming would be special “made for TV” events.

There will be a lot of new programming aimed at the immigrant community.

There will be a return to meaningful drama programming. DaVinci is the only current drama show worthwhile watching. The late Tom Stone show was OK to watch, but I always had a feeling that something was missing in addition to the low-cost production values. If we are successful, there should be a good mix of Canadian and offshore drama programs to view.

There will also be a renewed emphasis on quality educational programming for children of all ages, but especially for pre-schoolers and their mothers.

This network will continue to broadcast based on the various time zones of Canada, except for live events.

This network will be converted into a 50/50 French/Multi-lingual entertainment television network.

An attempt would be made to improve the French content that is available to be broadcast to Canadians.

The balance of the programming on this network will be a variety of Multi-lingual music and dance, world news, and sports including some English language sports events.

For example, the Canadian Curling Association has a dispute with CBC-TV Sports about how CBC broadcast last years curling championships. This problem could be resolved by splitting the games between these two networks, since both of these networks are available without the need of purchasing a cable connection or a satellite connection. There would be no need to farm games out to Country Canada or to TSN.

An attempt will be made to make the content on this network more relevant for the viewers. Depending on the time of the year, there are still too many reruns of old programs on this 24-hour news network.

A new Conservative Government should use the “power of government” to make this network available as an over-the-air broadcaster. This could give the CBC three networks available to the many non-cable TV viewers in large cities such as Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. In Toronto, the full range of VHF channels 1-13 are apparently now in use. We would have to bump one of those channels.

This move would mean giving up the current cable subscription fee revenue that Newsworld receives. However, looking at the big picture, the loss of this revenue is negligible.

The busiest time of the year for this network seems to be when the House of Commons is in session. When it is not, then the programming seems to be limited and stale. We will attempt to develop two or three different formats in order to keep this network relevant to the viewer at all times of the year. This could even mean showing some sports events during the summer news doldrums.

There will be a much stronger emphasis on collecting and reporting world news.

This experiment would be terminated.

There will be fewer major changes on the radio side of the CBC and most of these changes would be content oriented.

The Satellite Radio situation would be reviewed, if it is still an outstanding issue.

Political Considerations [deleted for now]

Funding Issues [deleted for now]

Expansion Possibilities [deleted for now]

[Comment: I challenge CBC employees and management who are reading this blog. Looking at the current situation in Canada, use your imagination to visualize what kind of proactive expansion could a new CBC make? This assumes that there will be a new source of funds to pay for this expansion. Your comments would be welcome.]

A Conservative Government will review the mandate of the CRTC. There are a lot of new issues that the CRTC has been having problems with due to the continuing leaps in technology that their current mandate does not cover.

While there are many Conservatives who would like to get rid of the CBC, I am been convinced that the CBC can be salvaged.

In regards to the Canadian Media in general, there appears to be too many media outlets chasing a limited amount of advertising dollars. A Conservative Government will find a way to rationalize this situation.

A 100-channel TV Universe is of no value to the average television viewer, if none of the channels has some content that is worthwhile watching when that viewer is ready to watch.

Too many Canadian cable networks do not have enough suitable content in order to attract sponsorship dollars. We will attempt to rectify this situation by showing what can be done by a major makeover of the CBC English television network. When we are finished, every Canadian will be watching CBC-TV at least one hour per day.

The Author is “An Independent Conservative From Calgary”


  1. Anonymous
    Posted October 12, 2005 at 4:00 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    The previous comment of: “As a matter of fact, you are incorrect. What you may be referring too is the perceptions of some of the politically right-leaning persuasion, which are simply perceptions and certainly not “everyone’s” view. Just like you, they have difficulty citing any evidence of the CBC’s alleged left-leaning bias. “

    You offer nothing to back up this statement other than… your statement. I cite Burman’s memo of 2003 that reported the results of polling on the subject, and the recent study reported on in the G&M.

    It is precisely attitudes like this — ones denying anything is wrong — that will be the CBC’s doom.

  2. Anonymous
    Posted October 10, 2005 at 10:24 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    From the comment above:

    “The CBC’s left-leaning bias is apparent to everyone except the left.”

    As a matter of fact, you are incorrect. What you may be referring too is the perceptions of some of the politically right-leaning persuasion, which are simply perceptions and certainly not “everyone’s” view. Just like you, they have difficulty citing any evidence of the CBC’s alleged left-leaning bias.

    “let’s not debate whether or not it is (left-leaning)”

    Since you cannot site any evidence to support your assertion, sure. We will just go with them not being biased then.

    Although I would never vote for the NDP, its noteworthy that they get next to no coverage on the CBC. Must be all that nice Gomery Inquiry coverage, followed by conservative MPs commenting on it. So very left the CBC is, anyways…

    Although the author of the comment above does correctly point out that the CBC does need to become more relevant to everyday Canadians, he/she should take notice of the fact that when reporters at the CBC don’t blindly accept statements made to them by politicians or others, and dare to actually challenge what they have been told, it does not make them left wing, it makes them good journalists.

    Although the CBC does have issues to deal with, journalism is one of the things it is doing correctly. Some on the right have to be careful to not confuse left-leaning with good journalism.

  3. Anonymous
    Posted October 9, 2005 at 9:22 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    The comments on the article are more interesting than the article itself. It seems most CBC loyalists simply cannot accept the reality that many (if not most) Canadians do not find the CBC relevant anymore, are offended by its obvious biases (political, cultural, and intellectual), and until those issues are resolved are unwilling to commit any more money for the CBC.

    I concede that much of what the article’s author has written is far too narrow and stands no chance of achieving broad support, but I also find it disturbing that comment-writers who are supporters of the CBC find it necessary to belittle those ideas instead of discussing them objectively. That is exactly what many of us perceive when we watch CBC programming, especially news and current affairs programming.

    The CBC’s left-leaning bias is apparent to everyone except the left. Even internal CBC memos concede that Canadians perceive the CBC to be left-leaning, so let’s not debate whether or not it is and figure out how to resolve it. In news and current affairs, it’s quite simple and it doesn’t involve signing of oaths or pledges of allegiance. It simply requires executives, producers and managing editors not to air pieces that are purportedly news or objective reporting which put forward a certain point of view. It’s no different than a newspaper or magazine editor sending a story back to the author with blue pencil marks on it. Those certain points of view can still be aired, but with the proper identity as commentary or opinion. It is when we see the likes of David Suzuki using a program like Nature of Things as a platform for one-sided presentation of information that becomes political commentary that we get upset.

    Funny thing about the comment re. Don Messer. That cancellation marked a significant turning point in how many Canadians felt about the CBC. In turn, it saw the CBC change its role in presenting entertainment, trying to move away from the regions and become more sophisticaed and urbane. Canadians walked away in droves. It’s easy to make fun of programs like Messer and Tommy Hunter but many for Canadians that was what they watched, and you would never get them to watch anything that the CBC offers today. I’m not saying those shows should be brought back, because their time has passed. But where are today’s shows for that part of the audience? The CBC has none. Not everyone finds politcal humor interesting and not everyone finds Rick Mercer to be funny. There is an entire part of the nation that the CBC consistently ignores.

    How do we fix it? I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I would start by re-establishing production capacity in the regions and using the regions to produce programming for the national network. What kind of programming? Certainly not what I see on CBC for the most part at present. I want to see regional musicians and artists of all stripes — pop, rock, modern, country, classical and whatever other categories of music you care to name; dancers, performers, artists and storytellers of all types; drama and comedy; documentaries that are about this country and that tell a story without a political slant to them; news and information shows that are objectively written and presented; and yes, commentary and public affairs shows that have a variety of political slants.

    The entrenched unwillingnmess of many to even acknowledge that the CBC needs dramatic change will be the death knell, because if it does not change, someday, a government will get elected that will decide that they got elected in spite of the CBC and will decide to kill it outright. That will be a tragedy, but I can see it as a very real possibility if the CBC doesn’t clean up its act and become relevant to all Canadians again. A public broadcaster must represent the public and not just one part of the populace, and until the CBC starts doing that again they cannot be considered a true public broadcaster in this country.

  4. Anonymous
    Posted October 7, 2005 at 6:08 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    “Using Radio-Canada 50-50 for multi language and French programming!!!!”
    Who the hell do you think you are?? Are you that person that has the Kellogg’s Corn Flakes Syndrom?, meaning that every morning you see your box of cereal in both official languages, you just can’t take a bite?

    It’s people like you that make des Québécois and other francophones across Canada puke over narrow minded anglos that think that because they won the battle on “les plaines d’Abraham”, actually owns the country. Va te faire foutre espèce de trou d’cul (and if you can’t understand le Français.. I mean F……you A……..) Wish I knew another foreign language to tell you the same. This way it would be 50-50 and multi-language!!!!

  5. Anonymous
    Posted October 6, 2005 at 4:29 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    With respect to the comment about the CBC being left-leaning, its important to note that since the CBC is mostly funded by the public and not by advertisers, they have more freedom to be critical and hold officials accountable, even if it is not popular to do so.

    Harper and other conservatives must recognize that when their assertions are being challenged by CBC reporters, the CBC is just doing its job. And yes, Liberals get grilled too, they just understand its the CBC doing their job, and take it in stride.

  6. Anonymous
    Posted October 5, 2005 at 8:10 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    exactly how does one identify and purge the so-called left-leaning reporters in the newsroom? call them into an office and force them to sign confessions they vote liberal or ndp? how does one fire someone for their political views? try that on anyone and they’ll be set for life from the court settlement.

    and does anyone want to live in a country where such things go on?

    the thing is, most reporters may be anti-goverment, or anti-powers-that-be, or take the side of people who have been hurt by the bureaucracy or society… but isn’t that supposed to be the job of journalists?

    in my 20 years at cbc, i find if anything most reporters fall into a
    trap of supporting and reinforcing the status quo, suppressing dissent, and acting as a gatekeeper in preventing any true change.

    if you think a little harder, the idea of purging the ‘leftists’ from newsrooms makes little sense, but sounds good and do-able. which, i guess, is the essence of conservatism.

  7. Anonymous
    Posted October 5, 2005 at 7:58 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    OK this has to be a joke! Did you read this line?
    “From 1971 to the present, we will be very selective in what we choose to offer our Canadian viewers. For example, ABBA and Blondie are two groups that have a repertoire of acceptable music for this network.”
    That shit isn’t even Canadian! I can’t be bothered to read anything else this nutball has to say.
    I much prefered the leaked managment document I read during the lockout. How I can I find that to keep me reminded of what the CBC could be like?

  8. Anonymous
    Posted October 5, 2005 at 1:35 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    This man wnats to turn Radio-Canada into a multi-lingual network…Again this show the lack of understanding and respect that the conservative right has for the francophones in Canada.

    So Radio-Canada would be turn into the leftover network for the anglophones…nice!!!!

    And you wonder why francophones reject the new conservative-reformer….Brian Mulroney did some bad things…but at least his party, and MP had respect for the francophones….

    I hope that you take your plan, your reform-conservative party and go shove it up your A#$%

    have a nice day!!!!

    F:) A francophone PROGRESSIVE-cobservative who is thinking about leaving that redneck party because of people like you!!!!!

  9. Ferdinand The Bull
    Posted October 5, 2005 at 9:44 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I’m so Goddamn sick of hearing about ‘lack of stable funding’ I could puke… and I work for the CBC. There would be plenty of money if the fucking management weren’t so utterly incompetent and wasteful with the funding we DO have.

    The problem is lack of vision, coupled with no accountability. More money given will be more money wasted.

    I propose ‘we’ open the debate up to Canadian Public about what they’d like the CBC to be. It belongs top them! Form an independent committee of media professionals and influential members of the Canadian artistic and cultural community to hold discussion groups all over the country. Give ’em one year to synthesize a vision that represents overall what the public is saying. Then hire people to run the CBC who have practical experience in the fields of Broadcasting and New Media to implement the vision.

    There, now I’m going back to La La Land where life is beautiful all the time.

  10. Anonymous
    Posted October 5, 2005 at 7:30 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I too am a Catholic reporter and I couldn’t disagree with Catholic reporter number one more. It is not our job to “back” any religious view. It is our job to present it fairly, warts and all. I thought the CBC struck precisely the right tone with it’s coverage of the Pope’s death and the installment of a new Pope. Let’s face it, the Vatican is not exactly “in step” with the way the vast majority of Catholics and how they live their lives. To NOT present it as such would have been biased. In fact, I think the CBC may have shown a bit too much deference in its attempt to be respectful. I think the Catholic voice has been well documented and respectfully treated in the same sex marriage debate. I think World Youth Day coverage was beautifully balanced. It is not our job to show deference to any religion. It is our job to present it fairly when its voice is an integral part of a news or current affairs story. I find it hard to believe that a reporter, who may not AGREE with some perspectives that have been presented would translate that into an attack on Catholicism. Frankly, you sound like those ranters who think there’s a left wing media conspiracy just because they don’t like the coverage. I find that a bit scary. Remember, you are supposed to be an objective observer.

  11. Anonymous
    Posted October 5, 2005 at 7:26 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Ouimet you have finally said something I can truely agree with.All the money in the world thrown at us tomorrow would have a hard time saving us without a new vision and surety that it appeals to the people who pay the bills,Canadians! All of them!!

  12. Ouimet
    Posted October 5, 2005 at 7:03 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    In some ways, CBC-TV should return to its roots. There will be a diverse range of variety music and dance programs added to the schedule.

    I was immediately reminded of Don Messer’s Jubilee. Are people still pining for this show? It was canceled more than 25 years ago!

    But it appears that they are.

    We don’t have much time. Get the money problem fixed, bring in new, vibrant leadership and unleash the best creative types…

    Time is indeed running out, but I think we first have to start with a real plan on how we’re going to be more compelling and relevant, something that will get Canadians on our side and get people excited about the CBC again.

    Hockey is coming back, and it has some new rules to help make the game better. What do we have so far? A backlog of shows, to be sure, but the same old CBC we all know and love (or hate).

    But if we have a plan it will be easier to tackle the funding issue. If we have something vibrant and shiny to shop around, politicians will be more likely to back us up in an effort to capture some of that fire.

  13. Anonymous
    Posted October 5, 2005 at 6:42 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Wait I have a slogan for the proposed new and improved CBC. “fair and balanced”.

  14. Skree
    Posted October 5, 2005 at 1:23 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    It is a little early for April 1st…

    But our anonymous conservative did get one thing right. $500M extra for the CBC, but not just for one year.

    Thanks for the laugh.

  15. Anonymous
    Posted October 4, 2005 at 11:53 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    are we left? really? I for one reject that outright! are we small “l” liberal? probably. but ask any reputable pollster and they’ll tell you CANADA is small “l” liberal.
    The CBC, like Canada, is SUPPOSED to be a reflection of its regions. The regions are “politically” different. the problem really is, that the regions have been torched and their voices lost. there is much diversity in our CBC – if only the CBC would promote and embrace it, then the PUBLIC broadcaster would genuinely reflect the PUBLIC.

  16. Anonymous
    Posted October 4, 2005 at 8:21 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Hey! Maybe The first song played on “Sound’s like Canada” could be Blondies “One way or another”.

    They could dedicate it the group of four. You know, the one that say’s:

    One way or antoher, I am going find ya, I am gonna getcha, getcha, getcha, getcha

    One way or another, gonna lose you,
    I’ll lose ya, lose ya.

  17. Anonymous
    Posted October 4, 2005 at 7:46 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I wouldn’t discount this person’s point about the left-leaning bias. Face it, everyone, we ARE left-leaning.

    I’m a practising Catholic, and for people like me, the out-and-out attack on our beleifs on the CBC is very apparent.

    It’s very annoying to be made out as a hick just because I have religious beleifs that are not Anglican, Jewish, Muslim or New Age. And hey, I’m a CBC reporter!

  18. Anonymous
    Posted October 4, 2005 at 6:58 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    The obvious is that CBC is dying a “death by a thousand cuts” and at the heart of the matter is the usual suspect: money. I do appreciate people opinions (even if it is just for the internal chuckle I receive). My fear is do we now have to suffer “death by analysis” subjecting ourselves to a never ending review of everyone’s opinion (good thing being that everyone has one, downside is that everyone has one), ultimatley leading to planning by committeee, diluting all innovation and creativity back down to the lowest common denominator?

    We don’t have much time. Get the money problem fixed (i.e. long term committed funding), bring in new, vibrant leadership and unleash the best creative types with more than adequte funding – and yes, full accountability. No more holding the funding back, and no free rides either – we MUST deliver a great service/product to Canadians to survive.

  19. Anonymous
    Posted October 4, 2005 at 6:18 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    There is a significant ‘dork’ factor in this perspective, but I’d still prefer to have this person feel at home at the CBC.

    I don’t think the lily white Conservative Party will delivery what this gent would like to see, but as one who is tired of hearing how disconnected we are from our audience, his preferences should not be dismissed out of hand.

  20. Peter J.
    Posted October 4, 2005 at 6:00 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Yeah, it had me going too until I read this:

    “From 1971 to the present, we will be very selective in what we choose to offer our Canadian viewers. For example, ABBA and Blondie are two groups that have a repertoire of acceptable music for this network.”

  21. Anonymous
    Posted October 4, 2005 at 5:53 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    A joke right? My inital response was to take this seriously, then I got it – my leg was being pulled – couldn’t stop laughing!!!

  22. Anonymous
    Posted October 4, 2005 at 4:57 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Therefore, a new Conservative Government should give the CBC some new funding, a new management team, some new content, and a new programming philosophy.

    Ladies and gentlemen, the Prime Minister of Canada.. and the CBC’s programs director: Mr Stephen Harper.

  23. Anonymous
    Posted October 4, 2005 at 4:38 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    This network will be converted into a 50/50 French/Multi-lingual entertainment television network.

    Do that my friend and you have an independent Québec the day after. Poor you!

  24. Justin Beach
    Posted October 4, 2005 at 4:36 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Hmm…well I agree that it needs some changes. I doubt that we will ever see a Conservative government to impliment any of this though. Other than it needing changes I don’t see much here. I don’t think that reporters should be vetted based on their politics – in general I don’t think reporters should even be asked about their personal politics.

    It also fails to take into account that there are still places in Canada where Cable and Satellite are not available, and/or people can’t afford them – CBC needs to be a network for everyone. He seems to want very tight restrictions on programming (although I’m sure ABBA and Blondie are both lovely) and he completely ignores alot of new technology.

    I also think that the CBC should move closer to being a public broadcaster – add free would be nice – not farther away.

  25. Anonymous
    Posted October 4, 2005 at 4:14 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I suppose the gentleman in question would also propose the return of slavery, the abolition of fire, and the return of woman to the kitchen barefoot and eternally pregnant as well. Give me a break, if I hear one more conservative who wants to return to the “good old days” I think I’ll puke!!! Those days are gone if you want to wallow in them subscribe to Deja-vue and leave the rest of us to move forward. No wonder they can’tget elected.

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