Go for broke

This is our one chance for the CBC to kick the advertising habit. Seriously. It’s the sole point in our lifetimes when that will be true.

The Corpse does not need “bridge financing” to get it through to a point where ad sales “rebound.” They’re not gonna. Nor does the Corpse need “even more” American programming, of which it has next to none; we’d only be running American shows to rake in ad cash, and there’s no more to be raked in.

Ad-supported media are imperilled everywhere. Take your pick of reasons why. But don’t say nobody warned you: When strawberry blond Michael MacMillan shitcanned Alliance’s in-house productions, he did so in the face of a “permanent downturn” in demand for TV shows and movies. He was only a few years ahead of his time, but making do with lower budgets, i.e., fewer ads, is the new normal.

The Privates are in the shitter. Newspapers are in the shitter. Satellite radio is in the shitter. The CBC is in the shitter. But one of these things is not like the others. The CBC is a public broadcaster that airs commercials. Not an unheard-of combination, but no longer viable.

The costs involved in chasing those ad dollars – chiefly the non-monetary cost of indistinguishability from private broadcasters – are now demonstrably too high. Nuke the ads, eat the cost of early cancellation of Wheel of Fortune, fire some managers, and turn CBC Television and Radio-Canada into real public broadcasters.

The most important feature there is “commercial-free,” not “all-Canadian.” We see now that reliance on commercials was what put the Corpse most at risk; it was the feature shared with the Privates for no reason. Complaining about American programming is a red herring; there isn’t much, and it isn’t the only foreign programming we run.

Keep radio commercial-free, but, if you wish, retain advertising online and on non-core channels like Newsworld, RDI, Documentary, Bold, and everyone’s darling, CBC Sports Plus. If you leave those numbers untouched on the balance sheet, how much extra does the Corpse really need in order to make just two TV networks ad-free?

This is the value proposition to the Tories, who hate CBC anyway: We’re not asking for a little bit of money to help us keep doing everything we’re already doing. We want a bigger chunk of money to turn us into what we were always supposed to be anyway. This solves the problem many a hardcore Tory voter has bitched about for years – “my tax dollars” paying for a public broadcaster that looks like a private broadcaster.

We threw jillions at the auto industry. How’s their future looking? Now throw us a bone and let us work the way we were supposed to work all along.


  1. Gabriel Hurley
    Posted March 5, 2009 at 11:02 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Thank you for this post! I hope more people within CBC will start thinking like this (preferably management).

  2. Enik Sleastak
    Posted February 28, 2009 at 12:31 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Malachi has a point. If we announced on Monday that we were closing down Radio One and Radio Two by May 1 to save the rest of the service (as, let’s face it, they don’t generate any money), I think we’d see quite an interesting reaction from the employees, from the board, from government and from the populace.

  3. Anonymous
    Posted February 27, 2009 at 4:37 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Is there a way to do with without either a) more government money, or b) cutting about 40 per cent of the services? I can’t see the government allowing either.

    c) massive layoffs
    d) privatization + massive layoffs
    e) cremation

  4. Anonymous
    Posted February 27, 2009 at 3:10 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Is there a way to do with without either a) more government money, or b) cutting about 40 per cent of the services? I can’t see the government allowing either.

  5. Malachi Constant
    Posted February 27, 2009 at 2:48 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Thanks for the post.

    I’ve been thinking this for some time now. This would also equal a bailout for the privates who could see their ad revenue increase. At least they (the privates) would stop whining about how the CBC competes with them for ad dollars.

    Barring that, ads on CBC Radio would help solve the cash crunch; at least temporarily. The only audience CBC has that is willing to riot in the streets over their service is the English Radio audience. This could pressure the GOV into more funding.

    And by rioting or course I mean sending nasty-grams. (It’s cold outside and the nursing home won’t let them out.)

  6. Anonymous
    Posted February 27, 2009 at 1:34 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    This is it. This is the end of the road. Don’t think this is a mistake or a set of unfortunate circumstances. The perfect storm was deliberately created one careful
    move at a time. Just like a chess game. Check mate. It’s all over.

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