Baseless speculation from – who else? – Friends

UPDATED Ian Morrison is now convinced of two things:

  1. The National is moving to 11:00.
  2. CBC is gonna plug an American show in its place at 10:00 (“non-Canadian” means American).

Morrison may have internal sources gossiping about the former, but the latter is exactly the kind of speculation that incites fear in the grannies who donate to Friends of Canadian Broadcasting. Could that be the purpose?

I called the listed contact, Jim Thompson (613 447-9592), and got him on his shoephone while he was walking down the street.

Did Friends have a source for the claim that CBC was considering airing a non-Canadian show at 10:00?
“Of course we have a source.”
But did Friends have a source that said there was serious consideration inside CBC to run an American show at 10:00?
“We didn’t say American.”
But really, in the Friends context “non-Canadian” means “American.” You wouldn’t object to British or Australian shows, would you?
He disagreed and said they would object. He claimed, in general, that “what we would have said in our press release is not at issue” and “we have as good [a kind of] data as many other ‘journalistic sources.’ We have anonymous sources.”

Thompson promised to get back to me about whether or not they had a real source giving actual data about an American program set to air at 10:00. He can just leave a comment here or mail me, I told him.

Ian Morrison wrote in later: “Friends’ information about the intent to move The National to 11:00 PM is solid. Our comments about what programming might replace it are based on informed speculation…. The only programming which would generate substantially more audience than The National at 10:00 would be simulcast American shows.”

Updates (2009.08.05)

  1. Kirstine Layfield deems herself “astounded that Friends of Canadian Broadcasting would make such unfounded and strange assertions.”
  2. Tod Maffin, in another of his “copyrighted posts,” actually called Kirstine up. (BFFs! Such insider knowledge and access! It’s almost like overhearing rumours by the purple elevator.) And she reiterated her denial. He reports that Ian Morrison “backpedalled on his original claim, rephrasing it as ‘a discussion’ and a plan.”
  3. Inside the CBC quotes Morrison as saying “We don’t fly off the handle on rumours.” (This is also the source of Maffin’s “ ‘discussion’ and a plan” quote.)
  4. Greg Quill at the Star prompted Morrison to attribute the rumour of moving The National’s timeslot to a source.

In Quill’s piece, Morrison refused to assert that the business about an American show being swapped into the 10:00 timeslot was also based on a source. That’s because it wasn’t. A day later, I’m willing to cease calling this claim “speculation” and am now willing to call it “fabrication.”

I called up Friends immediately on the latter point (not the point about altering The National’s timeslot) because CBC’s airing of American shows is a red-meat issue for this well-funded lobby group. It fulfills the same function that homosexual and lesbian marriage or abortuaries fill for well-funded U.S. Christian Right lobby groups. It’s a grenade they lob when they want to cause embarrassment for the CBC. It makes Friends of Canadian Broadcasting look like they alone live up to their name. Surely it encourages donations too.

Moving The National has happened before (it happens every year during the Stanley Cup), hence is not the sort of action an outside observer would just be making up out of whole cloth. Ian Morrison can cite all the “anonymous” sources he wants on that topic. (Surely Friends actually knows the sources’ names; they aren’t “anonymous.”) It is at least plausible. Moving The National would be widely scrutinized by the Toronto media elite and is an issue that, like a street tough with a penknife, can handle itself.

The larger issue of a scare tactic based on fabrication has, as I expected, been ignored by everybody else, fixated as they are on the motherhood issue of The National’s timeslot. What’s really happening is Friends of Canadian Broadcasting is making shit up.


  1. booga
    Posted August 6, 2009 at 1:25 am | #

    not for this thread, but about The Hour. Looks like they’re looking for help

  2. whatup
    Posted August 5, 2009 at 10:17 pm | #

    Who watches The National when you can watch Two and a Half Men?

Write for us