One way fabric

A few months ago I wrote about billboards. Remember that? Did you notice that the Strombo billboard is still up, a year after the city ordered it taken it down?

Cheeky bastards.

2007 is a good year for “promos.” Those are “advertisements,” by the way.

The CRTC loves them. Portugal won the war at And now CBC Communications wants to put some huge “promos” up on the south and west sides of the building, right over the Glen Gould Studio.
Even City Hall staff think it’s too ugly to allow.

Staff does not support covering more windows or doors with signage. This would add to an already cluttered building. The pattern of windows is part of basic architectural integrity of a building and involves a two-way relationship – being able to see inside as well as to see out.

They aren’t buying our claim of a magical “one way fabric” that will let the sun shine in and CBCers to see out. It’s impossible. These new signs will cut us off even further from the outside world, if such a thing were possible.

Inadvertently, they are an apt metaphor for how CBC Communications likes to communicate. One way. Controlled. More diatribe than dialogue. It seems transparent, but if you look closely you can’t see a godamn thing.

Funny how they can get these window stickers up tout de suite, but they can’t actually wash the windows until September.

Now, I’m no communist. You own a building, you should be able to do what you want to it. And advertising is part of a healthy democracy.

But if your raison d’etre is to serve the public, why bludgeon that public and passers-by with chintzy Andy Barrie ads? We may scoff at CITY-TV, the crassest of the broadcasters, but one thing they really understand how to do is engage the public and their audience and create excitement on a street level. Most of them are teenagers, sure, but there’s no reason we can’t do the same thing with old people.

The Mövenpick was still empty the last time I checked. This is across from the CN Tower and we still can’t rent it out. So can we get out of the billboard business and the “promo” business and even the real estate business and get back into the public fucking broadcasting business, or what?

Is it too late for that?

They make a decision on these signs on June 26th. Before that you can e-mail and tell him what you think. If you’re interested in fighting billboards you can join the Billboard Battalion. And of course you read


  1. Anonymous
    Posted June 19, 2007 at 8:32 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    We really need to make a stink about CBC taking down the illegal signs as ordered – it’s just offensive.

    Maybe fighting them on this new application is the place to start?

  2. Dwight Williams
    Posted June 19, 2007 at 3:15 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I remember the billboard posting, and I’ve dropped in on I can’t blame anyone for wanting to keep Toronto from going the way of Blade Runner‘s Los Angeles or Schumacher-era Bat-movie Gotham. Such things make great movie backdrops, but there’s a limit on how far to take this stuff.

    Hoping doesn’t have any just cause to expand to Ottawa…

  3. Anonymous
    Posted June 19, 2007 at 10:43 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I’m not really in a position to say all I’d like to about the redesign of, but I can sumarize my views quickly – Aweful – really completely terrible. First it’s more of an advertisement than anything else. Second they’ve taken everything that was wrong before and made it worse, then they took everything that was ok and ditched it. I’ll try to avoid the site now as much as possible.

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