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Now the Details

Media, ethics, and journalism. What works. What doesn't.

Jeffrey Dvorkin

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Lament for a Notion: On The Further Hollowing Out of the CBC

In Toronto's media circles, the subject of the CBC can still come up over coffee and beer, but not as often, or as passionately as it once did.

An exception to that was a posting by Tim Knight who excoriated CBC TV's nightly newscast for its over the top coverage of the recent royal visit and the minimizing of the end of the Canadian mission in Afghanistan. I thought it was a timely critique.

Located on a lively website called J-Source, Tim's essay was powerful, as were the comments which evoked many strongly felt positions, some opposing, but most in support. It was heartening to read that the public broadcaster could still summon up those feelings. Tim's lament combined with a similar piece from a young tv reporter for CTV, Kai Nagata who quit the private broadcaster for reasons similar to Tim's. This generational bookend of media criticism is worth noting, given the state of television journalism in Canada right now.

But as Howard Bernstein writes in his blog, it may be too little, too late as the CBC continues down the path toward the "unbearable lightness of broadcasting." Howard notes that even longtime supporters of the CBC in Atlantic Canada (a traditionally strong region of pro-CBC sentiment) are now suggesting that it may be time to sell it off.

In the midst of all this is Sun Media - the so-called Fox News North which obsesses nightly about the CBC. Recently, a federal cabinet minister Vic Toews attacked the CBC for its refusal (correct in my opinion) to broadcast the names of suspected war criminals in Canada.

Sun Media picked up on that theme to hammer the CBC once again.

While attacks on the CBC from elements in the Conservative government are not unusual, what was disturbing was how the minister described the CBC as the "state broadcaster" and not the public broadcaster. This assumes that the CBC must behave as a government propagandist and not as the BBC-modeled independent agency that it is supposed to be. Nor did I see a press release from the CBC correcting the minister for his "error". As I mentioned a few months ago, the CBC ignores this phenomenon at its peril.

Sun Media is having an effect. CTV now actively planning to create a program or two that will be all bloviating and little reporting to try to shift some of that market over to its side of the media fence.

When that happens, what impact will that have on the CBC? The public broadcaster now increasingly tends to follow trends rather than set them, as it once did.

1 comment:

  1. Kai Nagata is an unemployable junior with too much self-esteem. Tim Knight has the chops. Apples and oranges.