Expensive U.S. properties

Here we go again: Ian Morrison is speed-dialled to lambaste the Corpse for daring to air American shows that people who aren’t Toronto intellectuals might actually watch.

“We believe that the shortfall is $100 million or more, attributable to the decision last year to purchase several expensive U.S. TV properties, including Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, and The Martha Stewart Show, on airtight, multi-year contracts,” he said.

Even though the programs have won substantial audiences,

i.e., they’re working,

the anticipated income has not materialized because of the media-wide decline in advertising revenue, coupled with the recession, Morrison said,

failing to note that a show with high ratings can still tank if the rest of the industry is tanking. Isn’t that what’s happening? Or do Morrison’s legions of widowed private donors know something we don’t?


  • Why doesn’t Morrison ever complain about weekday reruns of The Simpsons? Because it’s a TV-snob favourite. (Somebody go check if any CBC Kids shows are straight U.S. productions.)

  • How ’bout them British shows? They’re still foreign, but they have the good taste not to be American. Coronation Street runs six days a week. The Tudors was a British production with Canadian money, offered up lovely British accents of the sort still heard in Victoria, and retold a period in the founding history of Canada, i.e., Britain’s history. (That’s also the founding history of the United States. They just had the bad taste to declare independence.) Plus all those second-rate British TV series they run late at night once or twice a week for half the year. (All those shows have a small cost penalty because they have to be captioned from scratch.)

  • Why doesn’t Morrison complain about American shows like Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty, and Grey’s Anatomy shown on Radio-Canada? (Those cost somebody, not necessarily the CBC, more because they have to be dubbed and captioned.)

  • What’s on BBC, our eternal standard of comparison? BBC One quite openly programs Damages and Lost.

  • If airtight, multi-year contracts are a problem, doesn’t that make hockey, soccer, and baseball three very large problems?

Fatboy complains that we do nothing but cover old territory on this blog. But what does Morrison do?

What, in principle, is wrong with airing foreign programming on a national public broadcaster? If you wanted a 100%-Canadian service, would you even ixnay foreign films?

One good thing that could come out of the budget crunch

Killing all the lawyers Firing senior managers.

Morrison again: “To get out of [this] hole, CBC will have to make massive layoffs [– of] as many as 600 or 700 of the most senior, costly employees,” who usually are, as we know, managers of managers who have prevented any real change from happening inside Fort Dork.

Such firings would also force “the national broadcaster to be more centralized in Toronto and Montreal.” But according to rumour at the time, Fort Dork was built to be big enough to house every iota of CBC operations. I’ll take a centralized empire run out of a giant edifice over a skeleton service with make-work offices in “the regions.” I’ll also take a centralized empire over the right-wing-asshole dream/oxymoron, a “privatized” public broadcaster.


  1. Daley
    Posted February 26, 2009 at 1:12 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    At least, Morrison seems to have accepted that HNIC is not the drain on the CBC that is was presented as in the past.

  2. Anonymous
    Posted February 26, 2009 at 7:10 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    How much are they paying for Martha, Jeopardy and Wheel? How much ad revenue do they generate? One has to have these figures before passing judgment. Anybody know?

  3. Anonymous
    Posted February 25, 2009 at 12:17 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I read about the shortfall on Yahoo. What was CBC thinking?? Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy – why not come up with some real Canadian shows?? Good for the Teamakers for pointing this out!

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