The survey taken in February 2011 indicates that the strategy of playing more Canadian indie and pop music on Radio Two is still not working after almost three years of trying.
CBC Radio has long been considered the jewel in the crown of Canadian public broadcasting. Brand loyalty to radio has always been deeper than for CBC TV.
Now that seems to be on the verge of change as audiences for what was once a solid news, classical and jazz service continue to fall, with some listeners migrating to the all-information service on Radio One. Others say they are losing their secular religion and migrating to online news and satellite radio from sources like the BBC World Service and NPR.
It's these growing doubts that are so disturbing.
Details about the survey will be published soon, but here is a sampling of the conclusions:
- Core listenership (heavy users) remain loyal to CBC Radio and believe the service is better now than in the past.
- Light users now constitute 50% of the audience for CBC Radio. They value local news and weather above all.
- CBC Radio listeners are not smartphone users. If they have the devices, they do not use them to text or to stream audio.
- Listeners to CBC Radio One are heavy users of cbc.ca. Most of the audience for the CBC website comes from CBC Radio.
- CBC Radio listeners find the frequent sport reports and updates "annoying." They also dislike hearing promos for CBC Television on CBC Radio.
- The "lost audience" for CBC Radio Two would return if classical music programming could be restored.
1. It could abandon its present music strategy and return to serve a demographic that values the CBC for what it was and what it could be.
2. It could decide that as a public broadcaster, being all things to all audiences is not possible when money is tight.
3. It could move Canadian and indie music to the net where that elusive demographic lives anyway.
4. It could restore news and information as a priority to CBC Radio and Television which is the CBC's mandate anyway and would more clearly differentiate CBC from the rest.
5. Or it could continue along, and wait for the federal government to force the CBC to make those choices through draconian budget cuts.