Thursday, April 9, 2009

Here's the Deal: Pay Even More Money for Something You Don't Watch

York University professor Wayne Rowland thinks CBC should forget about running revenue generating commercials and popular shows. What's the catch?

If the CBC is to survive the shock-doctrine opportunism of federal Conservatives bent on either privatization or elimination of the public broadcaster, it needs to once and for all come to terms with the festering albatross that is commercial sponsorship on its television network.


Crunching the numbers in the most recent CBC annual report, it looks as though roughly a third of television's operating expenses are covered by ad revenue of just over $300 million. So, if CBC TV were to go advertising-free cold turkey, as it were, it would have to find internal savings of something like 30 per cent.

Without access to the corporate accounts one can only speculate on where that might come from, but a shortened broadcast schedule would lower plant costs, and dropping professional sports would take a big bite out of production costs.

Yeah, that's right. Drop hockey, the only thing anybody watches the CBC for.

But maybe cold turkey is not the only answer. Why should it be assumed that Canadians, who take such pride in that other defining institution, medicare, would not be willing to ante up a few more dollars a year to support an ad-free CBC TV service?

A few months ago French President Nicolas Sarkozy did away with prime-time advertising on the country's public television network: the annual cost per capita went from $65 to $77. In Britain, taxpayers fork out $124 a year for the cultural cornucopia that is the BBC. Canadians pay a measly $34 each for the CBC. Raise that by about $5 and we've covered the advertising shortfall.

If we can salvage CBC TV as a centre for innovative, uniquely Canadian programs of exceptional quality, then CBC Radio will have a secure future as well.

Sure, make it completely unwatchable and expect taxpayers to fork over more. This professor is so out of touch he doesn't want any regular people to have a say, not even as ratings. (Without commercials, who cares how many people are watching?)

It's even more outrageous from a political point of view, as the CBC has been the propaganda arm of the Liberal Party my entire life. Why should I be forced to pay for its upkeep? It's like the TASS News Agency from the old Soviet Union.

Also, it annoys me that they keep talking about CBC quality programming, as if it's a given. What quality programing have we seen so far? Perhaps on the radio, which I don't listen to, because I can't find any clear online outlet or podcasts. I do listen to NPR in that capacity everyday.

Hat tip: Pat

1 comment:

  1. This was an unbelievable article. What a great business model, produce something people do not want, and force their tax money into paying for it. What a dream business. Open a shop, produce something no one will buy, and have the government pay for all your costs. Professor Rowland is a complete crack pot. He believes the profit motive is some sort of "shock doctrine". The fact that this article was printed in a newspaper, gives you some idea how bad the mainstream media has become.