Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Cuts Deep - 800 jobs to go

Yesterday one of the top public broadcasters in the world, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, announced that 800 workers from technicians to writers will lose their jobs. Not only is the Federal government cutting its grants to the vaunted broadcaster but CBC already has the other end of the string lit with dropping advertising revenues. But why do we need public broadcasting or, like the CBC, similar hybrid programmers?

For centuries the arts were supported by the good graces of royalty, the church or other wealthy benefactors. Shakespeare and Mozart were lavish spenders and so lived from project to project and produced some of the greatest works of their genre. This whole system changed in the 20th Century when governments became involved in media systems because they realized it was a matter of national unity.

When radio technology first came to the airwaves Canada was one of the world’s first countries to achieve reception in almost every corner of the country. As far back as the 1930’s people in the Arctic could listen to the Montreal Canadiens play the Toronto Maple Leafs and, as well, the famed Bluenose schooner defeat yet another sailing competitor to become the mainstay figure on the Canadian dime. Farming communities were kept up-to-date with both weather and prices for their produce and livestock. As well, when World War II erupted the call for volunteers was announced over the radio. But that was an era as far away from today’s technology and culture as King Arthur’s jousting competitions.

To meet its 2009 budget the CBC is not only laying off staff but selling off assets, in fact almost $125 million worth, and this is at fire-sale prices. The Canadian Heritage Minister, James Moore, added another bombshell stating that if ad revenues did not rebound to previous levels the CBC would have to ask for heavy loans and this debt would further cripple its programming.

What is at stake here are the brilliant new productions like Being Erica, The Rick Mercer Report and Little Mosque on the Prairie, shows that have garnered international audiences. Sports programs will also be cut but most of these seem to be doing well. In fact Hockey Night in Canada is one of the biggest earners for “Mother Corp,” as the CBC is called.

As much as the bottom line has to be met the Federal government has to take a hard look at the Canadian content produced during the past seventy-five years and weigh its value against a “dump and run” approach. If not this pipeline of talent will surely go dry. Because, I’m sure Gordon Lightfoot, Bare Naked Ladies and Anne Murray might not have had the jump start into the world market without being featured on Canadian programming on the CBC.

About the author

I am the author of four published novels and I find that blogging gives me better contact with people than writing stories, although I still write fiction. I have a tourism blog called "Travel to Nova Scotia" and one about the music business entitled "Music Before the Money."
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