The Canadian Multi-Platform Media Content Provider Corporation

The CBC no longer sees itself as just a broadcaster.
Even The Broadcast Act of 1991 is so … 1991.
It states that the mandate of the CBC is to be “the national public broadcaster .. (to) provide radio and television services … in English and French”. It doesn’t say anything about the internet.
For all intents and purposes, the CBC has no business being on the internet.
It’s a broadcaster, just as the name states.

But reading further in The Act we see that the CBC is to be “made available throughout Canada by the most appropriate and efficient means and as resources become available for the purpose”.
Ah, now it’s in the internet business.

And spending millions to be there; partying like it’s 1995.
So it has become more than just a broadcaster, it has also become a publisher.
A publisher of all the gripes the population has about the CBC.
And of news, weather and sports information, almost in direct competition with newspapers.
The CBC hasn’t just beamed its programming via the internet. It has now created a new printed version of itself as well, and so is no longer only a broadcasting enterprise.


But it’ll probably keep the name for a while longer, as a quaint reminder of its historic roots.

21 comments:

  1. Anonymous
    Posted April 1, 2009 at 8:55 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    It’s not about /broadcasting’, per se, but rather expressing Canadian culture and national character. Times are changing, and will change more. “Broadcasting” as we have known (television and radio) may be completely irrelevant at some point. We’re still going to need a national broadcaster, however… To use whatever media is prevalent at the time.

    The challenge is for CBC management to have the vision to move into the future in a way that keeps the Canadian message fresh and vital. Can they do it? I wonder. It’s a huge organization, in a time when small is preferable (simply because it is more responsive to a changing world). These people are not geniuses, God knows.

  2. Aigle
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 4:59 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Thanks, Vigilante for getting my joke. It also illustrates that the internet medium can certainly be used to generate revenue, even without trying :). Memes are just “weird” ;)

    I’ve been trying to focus my comments on suggestions more than wingeing (not always successful) so here is another one WRT expanding Radio-Canada.ca:

    How about expanding the Chilren’s programs to add a French language show that would also appeal to non-francophone adults?

    Hell, why not one just for adults? On the web. Hire Tetes a Claques to produce it. How about one for uni-francophones to learn Engish?

    How much is HR’s budget to teach (pre-approved by your manager) unilingual CBC’ers how to understand the appropriate second language?…Ever read both halves of the internal memos? Do ya really think it works?

    If it is good enough, and has a point. I could see it becoming populasr in a cult-like sort of way.

    And “Cult” usually means “cheap with better than expected revenue”

  3. Allan
    Posted March 29, 2009 at 9:50 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    hey, thanks!.
    wonder if Judy Maddren would like to be the Tea Makers grammar checker now that her schedule has been freed up …

  4. Anonymous
    Posted March 29, 2009 at 9:05 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    “…no longer sees itself as just a broadcaster any more.”

    No longer any more? GREAT writing.

  5. Anonymous
    Posted March 29, 2009 at 7:06 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    .ca is 99% wire stories, often made even more boring by cbc.ca staff rewrites. it’s not good print journalism, nor is it ever breaking — cnn, ctv, bbc, the globe, any newspaper site beats them constantly in content and quality… partially because it’s run by broadcast people like Mary Shepperd…

  6. Amanda
    Posted March 29, 2009 at 5:38 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Some responses to PhantomObserver’s points. I found all of them interesting, while agreeing with none of them.

    1 … It doesn’t hurt CBC to have a print component to its website.

    There’s nothing wrong with doing print, the BBC has a lovely print news component online. But it does hurt if you are robbing cash from your core mandated services to do it.

    2. There is also the question of setting up bandwidth / memory / formatting to have CBC’s radio and TV archives converted and available in digital format

    None of these issues is the main obstacle to having more online archives. Not memory, not bandwidth, not video or audio formats. The main issue is copyright.

    In part the issues simply haven’t been resolved yet, in terms of who to pay and how much. On the other hand, where the issues have been resolved, the price is too high. These are the reasons our music shows don’t have podcasts. Ditto for other shows like Wiretap that have lots of background music. (Some shows are quietly sneaking stuff through. I expect it’s the same shows that don’t even enter their background or theme music in their radio logs. You know who you are.)

    Even in regular old media, royalties and residuals are a big headache. You’ll all remember the hockey night in Canada debacle. And why didn’t we show a couple repeats of King of Kensington when Al Waxman died? Too expensive.

    Bandwidth is costly, but it’s not the issue. There are also cheap ways around bandwidth, like starting your own YouTube channel. “Q” already has one.

    3. Then you have the question of the fee structure for downloading, broadcast vs. YouTube quality and residuals.

    Charging for use goes against the current tide of internet services, which has been evolving from “paid” to “free” for several years. See, for example, Salon and The New York Times, both of which started out with a pay-for-use model, which they’ve since abandoned. See also the leading sector in internet distribution: pornography. At one time the main outlet for (legal) porn was paid membership sites. But now the leading porn sites are all free YouTube style user-upload sites.

    On the other hand, there’s also a downturn in advertising, which is the thing that keeps free websites free. So who knows.

    4. Finally, we have to recognize that Internet service in the North and other Canadian remote areas might not have the bandwidth to sustain multiple downloads of audio / visual files. A print mode is therefore necessary for these areas.

    Why print? I would think the obvious answer to the problem of low bandwidth / poor connectivity would be the regular run-of-the-mill services we’ve always provided: TV and Radio.

  7. Vigilante
    Posted March 29, 2009 at 4:10 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Ahh, but Paul, I have no problem with investing. Everyone’s investing to a point. Invest in CBC.CA? By all means!

    But don’t overinvest in it when there’s no audience, and don’t do it at the expense of other things profitable.

    Look at what Anon 2:58 said up there. And there are others, I’ve heard myself that the plan is to invest millions of dollars into the french component of the website over the next two years. More for the english side. And they’re cutting HOW MANY jobs?

    Of course, that’s all hearsay…

    There’s a difference between making something a priority and prioritizing your funds. I don’t think the CBC brass have thought this out completely.

    What was that movie? Field of Dreams? If you build it, they will come? Well what happens if you’ve built it and you can’t fill it? Do you throw more money at it and hope it will become a national marvel?

    If they’re not there already…they ain’t coming.

  8. Paul Sham
    Posted March 29, 2009 at 3:22 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I agree that based on mandate the CBC is a broadcaster, but I do read cbcnews.ca. I would like to see proof that they’re sinking a ton of money into cbcnews.ca. Not that I don’t trust you, but it’d be helpful to see how much, and more analysis because I think it’s a useful service. But, I understand if it’s taking too much to run.

    To Anonymous 1:49 and Vigilante,
    I think having an Internet component is not only useful, but necessary. If they waited for everybody to have broadband Internet, they will have fallen too far behind. Therefore, it’s justified to invest in online formats.

    Paul Sham
    http://www.thepostscript.ca

  9. PhantomObserver
    Posted March 29, 2009 at 2:19 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    A couple of points;

    1. In spite of YouTube, Napster and other audio / visual content on the web, the Internet is still, in its majority, a medium driven by print. It doesn’t hurt CBC to have a print component to its website.

    2. There is also the question of setting up bandwidth / memory / formatting to have CBC’s radio and TV archives converted and available in digital format, which would seem to be the long-term future of the CBC site.

    3. Then you have the question of the fee structure for downloading, broadcast vs. YouTube quality and residuals. That would seem to be the most obvious way to turn CBC’s site into a revenue generator (i.e. the replacement for CBC records). Where they’re at, right now, is Square 2 when everyone else is in mid-board.

    4. Finally, we have to recognize that Internet service in the North and other Canadian remote areas might not have the bandwidth to sustain multiple downloads of audio / visual files. A print mode is therefore necessary for these areas.

  10. Anonymous
    Posted March 29, 2009 at 1:51 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Stursburg et al are stuck in a world of numbers, whether it be eyeballs on televisions, ears to radios or mice (mouses?) to the internet. Shows disappear if they don’t reach audience number targets. Similarly, jobs are cut in locations that don’t have big population numbers. Interestingly, the internet is a service only to places with the right infrastructure predicated on large numbers of people. Service to Canadians predicated on values other than raw numbers does not appear to be in their vocabulary, whether service in the form of specialized programming such as The Inside Track or Canadians living in remote locations. The trouble with the internet thing is that it is not particularly robust. It is subject to outside threats that transmitter systems are not. An ice storm can knock out the internet while radio transmitters can send survival information to portable radios using battery power. You can bet that threats to the state will first attack the internet, a relatively easy target. The internet is great for podcasts, but it should not become the platform of choice for a public broadcaster. There is a disconnect between the amount of money spent on the CBC’s internet service and its value to Canadians. This is a number that belongs in the laps of Stursburg et al.

  11. Vigilante
    Posted March 29, 2009 at 12:26 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Aigle for the OT Win. Now I have a craving for Ginger Ale too, just enough to temper my tumbler of Canadian Club.

    Anon 1:49 has it. I’m not in a high speed area myself. I use a sat network to access a broadband network in Barrie. And I’m nowhere near Barrie. And it’s the shits for speed.

    In fact anywhere north of Orillia is no man’s land for broadband from what I hear. It might go as far as Bracebridge…I’m not sure. So that’s what? A quarter of the province of Ontario?

    Do you know how long it takes me to access CBC.CA in South River? For-frickin’-EVAH. But I can turn on my radio and be more or less informed in less than an hour whilst fighting off a black bear with a BB gun.

    I agree. Don’t sell off the transmitters.

    And like Fake Ouimet says, you can’t repurpose TV for print. Look what happened with the Stursberg address…(no offense, guys)…these guys did the best job putting voice into print but elements were still missing. You’re always going to miss one thing or another converting print to TV or TV to print. There are editors, word limits, etc. Something always gets lost in the wash. And that something is always important to someone.

    Lost in Translation. Great movie. Great example.

    I’m against blanketing the .ca component with money. Not when you already have audiences elsewhere. It doesn’t make any sense.

  12. Fake Ouimet
    Posted March 29, 2009 at 11:58 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I took home the Newsworld writer’™s test one time many years ago and couldn’™t do any of it at all. The task was simple: Rewrite a print piece for TV. As the comedians used to say, I got nothin’™. I couldn’™t do word zero of the task.

    It follows that the converse is also true and TV/radio scripts cannot be readily ’śrepurposed’ť for print, which is what CBCNews.CA chiefly is.

  13. Anonymous
    Posted March 29, 2009 at 11:49 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    “made available throughout Canada” is a fairly important aspect. There seems to be a notion that the Internet is all-pervasive, yet there are plenty of Canadians who are out of range of the high-speed internet or simply can not afford the monthly ongoing costs, especially for mobile access. The beauty of broadcasting is that you can pick it up virtually anywhere, and all you need is an old used radio. Don’t sell off the transmitters!

    P.S. What in fact is the print service of the CBC?

  14. Aigle
    Posted March 29, 2009 at 11:42 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Why do I have this craving for Ginger Ale??/?

  15. Dwight Williams
    Posted March 29, 2009 at 10:32 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Well, now that it’s been halfway stumbled into as it is…you may as well go the rest of the distance. It’s not entirely optimism, more admitting to the facts of the situation as they are.

  16. Philip Lee
    Posted March 29, 2009 at 9:18 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I’ve composed some questions I’d like answered about the CBC mandate and the cuts: read them here http://philiplee.ca/

  17. Amanda
    Posted March 29, 2009 at 9:07 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    “I’ve never seen a problem with going the rest of the distance to set up a print edition with extra content for people who want to take their time with it.”

    There’s a big assumption in here, one that’s behind most of the justification for the print service: that the people in the corporation’s many newsrooms just have to tinker with the stories they’ve already done to turn them into print articles. (or, at least, have someone else tinker with them.)

    But it doesn’t work that way. It’s a parallel service. “Print” staff only very rarely contribute to TV or Radio, and vice versa.

    This is a completely new service that dropped out of the sky, eating up radio and TV budgets as it fell.

  18. Anonymous
    Posted March 29, 2009 at 7:40 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    “I’ve never seen a problem with going the rest of the distance to set up a print edition with extra content for people who want to take their time with it.”

    At a time when every newspaper on the planet is in a state of financial crisis someone is suggesting that the CBC start a newspaper? Brilliant. Give this man one of those bonuses.

  19. Dwight Williams
    Posted March 29, 2009 at 5:24 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Considering that you’re already halfway into the newspaper business anyway by posting the articles at cbcnews.ca, I’ve never seen a problem with going the rest of the distance to set up a print edition with extra content for people who want to take their time with it.

    The National is already the perfect brand for such a newspaper, published under the CBC label.

    And yes, I am willing as a citizen to pay for this. That the current government is unwilling to admit that fact…I can’t help solve that until the next election’s called.

  20. Anonymous
    Posted March 29, 2009 at 12:58 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I work at .ca/digital programming — the management is unbelievably clueless and mostly folks who have failed in other parts of the corp. The amount of money wasted is astounding and the quality is not up to cbc standards. There’s a lot of emporer-has-no-clothes, pie-in-the-sky, nonsensical, jargon-filled blather from folks like Shawn Bailey that upper management buys hook, line and sinker.

  21. Amanda
    Posted March 28, 2009 at 10:33 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I don’t have a problem with internet services. You can’t fight the future.

    I do have a problem with the print end of cbc.ca. Why do we have a huge division re-writing press releases and covering beats already covered twice by radio and television? Why are we, for example, putting money into print arts coverage when our radio & TV arts coverage is at a low ebb?

    We're not a newspaper. This sort of stuff just robs money needed for the broadcasting mandate. Radio and TV are not print, as anyone who's ever written for either medium can tell you.

    I can buy the Stursberg line that our services will ultimately be platform independent. Radio is just audio, it's no longer tied solely to radio sets. TV is picture & audio together. But print is a third thing entirely, something that's crept into the corporation without debate or mandate.

    If we had unlimited resources, fine. But budgets for core services are being cut to fund a service that is not clearly part of the mandate.


Post a Comment

Your email is never shared.

Upload Files

You can include images or files in your comment by selecting them below. Once you select a file, it will be uploaded and a link to it added to your comment. You can upload as many images or files as you like and they will all be added to your comment.

Write for us