What’s it all about, Alphonse?

That’s kind of the thing isn’t it, Bill?
What is the CBC for?
A repeater station of American shows?
What is the point of the CBC?
To make a profit?

Bill Brioux writes the best TV column in Canada. Feel free to offer up the name of anyone better or equal.
It’s always a great read, partly for the hard facts that he provides and partly because he writes like a lifelong fan of television shows and their stars.
When a program is a hit, and everyone is fascinated by it, where is the TV columnist that goes to Chicago and sits in the audience of the craziest show in North America, The Jerry Springer Show, and tells fans what it’s like? Bill is the writer that would do it, while his peers stay home looking at preview tapes of some upcoming series, writing reviews as if they thought they were theatre critics.
The very best service that Bill provides is reporting the ratings. If you want the numbers on The Hour or Being Erica, Bill has them and lets the public read them.
That’s my kind of reporter, though I might prefer a TV column written from the mind of Philip K. Dick.
And when television is interesting, Bill is interesting, and when isn’t television interesting. So he’s got a reasonably good gig, though it’s probably a hustle to make it pay sufficiently.
He recently got a round trip to New York courtesy of Rescue Me, a show desperate for an audience, as are a lot of shows.

So I read that the CBC is canceling the Simpsons, and thought – I love The Simpsons, never tire of seeing it a dozen times. Went so far as to buy the episode guides at one point, several Bart dolls, and likely to buy a King Burger if it comes with a Simpson toy.
But The Simpsons is an American show, so understandably it can go from the CBC schedule. And isn’t that show on somewhere on cable practically every few hours, and aren’t they all re-runs that we already have on VHS, and don’t we already have 19 seasons as avi files?
So not in any way a big deal to lose the afternoon CBC episode.

Not so to Bill Brioux

His TV FEEDS MY FAMILY BLOG – http://tvfeedsmyfamily.blogspot.com/
Direct link to the SIMPSONS POST –http://tvfeedsmyfamily.blogspot.com/2009/03/doh-cbc-sacrifices-simpsons.html

Look at what he’s saying here …

Ay, carumba! Ditching The Simpsons, part of CBC’s slash and burn plan (as reported here in Variety), is a bad idea, man.

Scrapping an import like The Simpsons may sound like a good P.R. move and the right thing to do in this economic tailspin but in the long run it won’t help the network attract the revenue it needs to dig itself out of this hole.

The CBC should keep the Simpsons because it makes money.
Never mind that it’s American, we all love it so much. (well, yes, there’s a good argument there IF none of the other channels had it, or refused to run it, or IF CANADA WASN’T THE MOST CABLED COUNTRY IN NORTH AMERICA!)

But there it is, the first problem with the CBC.
What’s it all about, Bill?
Your argument becomes worse when you suggest that Jeopardy is OK too because there are two Canadian writers working on the show.

Like Jeopardy! (the only other CBC show my 16-year-old son watches) it is an evergreen that never gets old and always pulls in ad revenue. Plus it employs a few Canadian writers, including Tim Long of Exeter, Ont., and Joel Cohen of Calgary, who sneak in their share of Canadian jabs.

Selling out much, Bill?
Where does it end?

Here’s my proposal, Bill.
Using the vast resources of the Federal government, and I’m talking cash, the CBC sets about outbidding every broadcaster in Canada for the rights to the absolutely big, sure-fire money makers. Up first “24”. How much more Canadian can you get than that, eh?
But even that becomes irrelevant. Is there a Canadian intern working on the set of Desperate Housewives? No, then send one down.

You see, Bill, I don’t think the purpose of the CBC was ever to make a profit.
Somewhere along the line the CBC got confused, perhaps we all did.
But any “profit” it makes is supposed to be based on Canadian creations, involving preferably a 100% Canadian production crew. A 100% Canadian writer telling a 100% Canadian story. That’s the ideal, no matter how “unrealistic” or “unprofitable”.

The reason the CBC is facing growing grumbling from the population is because over the years the proud Canadian soldier seems to have merged far too much with G.I. Joe.
And yes, I realize that generation of patriots is quickly dying off, as the CBC looks ahead to pleasing a new generation, one that is so hip it lives in a world “without borders”, the global digital mind, man.

But it’s pretty short-sighted when you start using tax money to tell and sell the American lifestyle.
I guess if George can compromise his country, it must be OK for all of us.

But not for me.
And not for the many who want to contribute to a vital Canadian broadcasting industry that exists.
Exists when a certain kid comes looking for a job at Much Music.

When it comes to the CBC, and not CTV or Global or the Rogers behemoth, we need more Canadian shows, NOT more profitable shows.


  1. Anonymous
    Posted March 31, 2009 at 5:35 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Every regular ahs posted something that they wish they could retract or have a do-over on, I’m sure.

    What really sucks is that F.O. really shone last week – with great coverage of the town halls, and some insightful commentary. Stuff that might even make it into communications packages read by Senior Team.

    Now we’re back around to the same old Trekkie/Frat Boy/Lack of Social Aplomb bullshit that has plagued this board for a while now.


  2. Anonymous
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 1:30 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Also disingenuous: deleting an entire comment chain where too many people point out the Fake’s paranoid tendencies (as just happened again today.)

    I think one poster was really onto something there with the DSM-IV Paranoid Personality Profile, Joe. Have you sought meds for that yet? Or would you rather continue to think that any event that you’re not invited to is a personal rebuke and slight?

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha!

    Dishin it out and not taking it, It’s the Fake Ouimet show! everybody. They should stream it on Radio 3.

  3. Fake Ouimet
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 12:24 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    The argument is disingenuous. Those who criticize CBC for carrying American programming never pick on The Simpsons; I’™ve discussed this several times on the Tea Makers. While such selectivity is hypocritical, it invalidates Brioux’™s point. What they’™re incensed about is the game shows. A small-town hick from Canada is not gonna get a prime writing gig on one of those shows because they saw it on CBC.

  4. Allan
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 10:46 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Bill Brioux responds:

    I've never been confused about this. The CBC is in the TV business. It is a tough, highly competitive business. The CBC has no choice but to play by the TV business rules. Wave the flag all you want, but the goal has to be getting Canadian stories out there but also getting those TV shows in front of as many Canadians (as well as, eventually, to people in other countries) as possible. That is the goal of every broadcaster, and CBC is a broadcaster, not a narrowcaster.
    If The Simpsons, which has drawn a large and loyal audience on several Canadian networks over the past 20 years, including CBC, can help bring viewers to Canadian-produced content that follows, it is a plus for people who watch, make and admire Canadian content. If a kid from tiny Exeter, Ont., or Calgary can land a writing and producing gig on The Simpsons–one of the most admired TV shows of all time–that will surely inspire other Canadians to write and produce TV shows. This idea that CBC is some sacred all-Canadian content machine ignores the realities of the business of television. Canadian viewers who have 24-hour access to everything from The Sopranos to Osbournes Reloaded have a window on all the brilliance and excess of American television. Viewer expectations are high, and producing competing CanCon at anywhere near that level costs money. The Simpsons and Jeopardy help lift audience levels and bring revenue to the broadcaster and do it in off-prime time. They are two great shows Canadians love.
    Back in the "golden era" when CBC was a dominant player in the Canadian TV scene, it carried plenty of American fare. In 1977, when the CBC slogan was "Bringing Canadians Together," it broadcast The Waltons, The Marty Tyler Moore Show and All in The Family. Over the years, it has carried virtualy every iconic American TV series: I Love Lucy, Gunsmoke, Ed Sullivan, Star Trek, Newhart, M*A*S*H, Barney Miller, Chico and the Man, The Partridge Family, Happy Days, The Carol Burnett Show, WKRP in Cinncinatti, Welcome Back Kotter and The Wonder Years. Somehow Canada survived and millions of Canadians also embraced Front Page Challenge, Wayne & Shuster, King of Kensington, Street Legal, Degrassi, Road To Avonlea, Kids in the Hall, Air Farce and beyond.
    Finally, we want our best shows to be embraced outside our borders. In this digital, Internet age, TV is more international than ever. Expecting our public broadcaster not to bring us a few imported nuggets is a narrow view not grounded in financial or any other kind of reality. CBC should champion Canadians first but not be so imprisoned by ideology that it fails to recognize that talent flows both ways across the border and that should be celebrated, too.
    So I know what the CBC is not for–it is not for an elite cadre of culture vultures, or people so insecure about their cultural identity that they have a cow over The Simpsons. (Brits don't flip, for example, that Bart is on BBC.) It is for Canadian TV viewers. And it can not not be in the business of television.
    Now–could it be more competitive and provide more Canadian content if there was more accountability of that annual billion-plus appropriation? Is the scandal here that there are so many middle and upper managers spending Lord knows what on what at the public broadcaster? That would be yes and yes.

  5. Dwight Williams
    Posted March 28, 2009 at 3:48 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    There’s an overly influential faction in our society demanding that we not see ourselves as a nation and people – or at least an alliance of peoples – in our own right. John Ralston Saul put his finger on at least that much correctly with A Fair Country. Not all of us buy into that faction’s thinking, and many of us who believe in Saul’s assessment also feel we have something useful to contribute to more than one nation.

    Hopefully, that’s not messianic logic on our part.

  6. Anonymous
    Posted March 28, 2009 at 11:06 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Allan, it’s hard to ONLY have Canadian content because we are so close to the states that our celebrities go there and vice versa. So 100 percent Canadian celebrities isn’t always going to be current events.

  7. Anonymous
    Posted March 28, 2009 at 10:57 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Sadly, Canada is losing it’s identity and this is just another step towards that. It really makes me sad. Places like England, Ireland, Australia, and yes even the good ol’ US of A take pride in their heritage, their people, their quirks, their identity….but Canada sadly is always trying to be someone else or please someone else. No country is perfect and they all have their faults, but most countries take pride in their unique characteristics. Unfortunately, Canada is like the kid on the playground who says and does whatever is necessary to fit in. **sniffles**

  8. Anonymous
    Posted March 28, 2009 at 9:34 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Bill Brioux writes what he’s told to write. He’s on the payroll. Do you think he writes his sycophantic musings for the fun of it?

  9. Allan
    Posted March 27, 2009 at 4:29 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Guys, you’re talking like you need the CBC to be your own special channel, when you have a huge spectrum to choose from, and not just on the TV set.

    We need Canadian shows, and who is most likely, most obligated, most expected to give that to us.
    I don’t care if it’s crap. It’ll get better. Who cares if it’s just joe and I sitting there on Who’ll Blink First?, it’s Canadian.
    That means Canadians are manning the equipment, honing their skills, EMPLOYED, and sitting in the control room saying “we have to find something better than joe and Allan!”
    What broadcasting industry would we have if everything on the CBC was “Live From Malibu …”?
    It’s far more than patriotism that’s at stake.
    The road you are considering ends up with your children having to move south to work on a TV show, a radio show, a newspaper.

    What is the mandate of the CBC? Read it an then evaluate how each program measures up. The CBC does, and they’re very proud of what happens between 8 and 11 PM. If it were otherwise, there would be no need for the CBC.

    Think, imagine for a moment, how proud you would be of George if he had announced that he would only work on a Canadian show, an all Canadian show, showcasing 100% Canadian talent, culture, news, art.
    The fact that he is miles away from taking such a stand is what pisses me off.

    Anybody, and I mean anybody, can get attention standing next to a Clooney or a Bono or a gazillion other celebs, but the one you respect is the one that goes after Matthew Goode and Bruce Cockburn and Trailer Park Boys.
    These are the people who need and rely on Canadian media for exposure, not the other guys who you’ll soon see Kimmel et al.

    If everyone in Canada is chasing Sting and Hanna Montana, why would we need a CBC?
    So that we can hear Yo Yo Ma and Justin Timberlake without commercials? That’s what satellite radio is for. That’s what iPods are for.

    But what, I ask, are Canadian taxpayer dollars for?

  10. Anonymous
    Posted March 27, 2009 at 2:45 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    The Simpsons, frankly, is one of the highlights of the schedule, something no one would say about Wheel of Fortune or some of the other American shows we're running.

    The BBC – which people seem to hold up as some sort of Platonic Ideal of public broadcasting – shows The Simpsons (without advertising).

    And we sure as hell aren't going to be producing more Canadian TV shows. The money's gone. So what at we gonna put on at 5:00? Bars & tones?

  11. Dwight Williams
    Posted March 27, 2009 at 2:31 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Victor: It’s not that ludicrous. It never has been.

    That said, once upon a time, I watched Charlie Brown specials and M*A*S*H on the Ceeb, and never had much of a problem with the contradiction. They were good shows, some of the best that the US was making. So why not take the best of their product if that product resonated with us on our own terms and air it on our public broadcaster?

    And it’s a happy accident you should invoke Doctor Who. I took some pride in knowing the Ceeb was part of the revival of one of the biggest SF franchises on this planet, especially one co-created for another public broadcaster, and by a Canadian to boot.

    I’d love to someday contribute a franchise of my own creation to CBC, maybe based on one of my comics projects or the space opera novel I’ve been nudging along for years. (Yes, I need to finish writing the blasted thing and start shopping it around!)

    But I need the CBC to still be there first. So I’m one of those supporters, viewers, wannabe contributors who’s caught in a nasty quandary here over this topic.

  12. Victor Wong
    Posted March 27, 2009 at 1:45 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    The big problem with your argument is, just because a show is Canadian doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to become an immortal classic, which is what Canadians are looking for.

    Think of some recent ones. Due South? CTV/CBS, and later CTV solo. *Not* from the CBC. And you needed Americans to help get it started.

    The Red Green Show? Started as an independent, got picked up by Global, *then* PBS, *then* the CBC. But it needed the Americans to make it memorable.

    Patriotism isn’t that big of a selling point. Look at the BBC: Doctor Who, Red Dwarf, Top Gear, Life on Mars. None of them are particularly interested in waving the Union Jack, but they’re critical successes. And it’s that “flag-waving” bit that seems to drive the CBC’s quest for programming. Ludicrous.

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