Thursday, January 8, 2009

Role of the CBC

After reading a comment on an earlier entry regarding the CBC and it's role as a public broadcaster I decided to make my comment response into an entry because there are some things I'd like to say. First, I do understand those who are saying and (I partially agree)that Heather Malick or anyone else shouldn't be funded by the tax payer to give an ideological perspective. Well, I'm not sure if I agree, in fact I guess I don't. But, I do think there should be some balance. A right wing nut-jobber like Anne Coulter would definitely have some effect.
I wonder about what role the public broadcaster really should serve and is CBC serving that? How is it serving it? Okay, Canadian content is great and I support regulating broadcasting. I think we have to make it easier for Canadians to watch Canadian tv, but I don't like regulations on what is considered "Canadian" and what is not. Years ago I remember the band Sloan (from Halifax) was considered "uncanadian" by the CRTC because they never sang about hockey, beer or moose. But, as Oprah once said "how could I be anything else"? She was responding to those who were saying she is not black enough. Well, for anyone who is Canadian, how could they be anything but Canadian? We are a pluralistic society; comment is free.

That still leaves the question of the CBC. I think it should change. I have trouble seeing how it is useful. It could work to export Canadian values to the world. Why not. Xinhua, the Chinese state-run news service presents itself as just another wire service (like AP, CP or Reuters) but it is an agent of the Chinese government. So, why should the CBC not just be an agent of Canadian propaganda world wide? The CBC is kept at arms length from the government but it does not represent the Canadian "establishment" and does not represent the majority of Canadians or the government of Canada. Who does it represent? It represents itself. That's how I see it anyway.

So, as the age old question goes: what is to be done? Scrap it? Make it free market? My personal belief is that it should be put into the hands of the people. The citizens of the country should have more say about what sort of image it presents. Consensus might not be possible, but I think that there are some core Canadian values that most people in Canada share. Why not take the CBC out of the hands of the elite and make it speak for the country the way that it really is? How often is Alberta's view ever represented on the CBC? Like it or not, they are a big part of the country and you know, their values aren't all that different from the values of the average Montrealer. Why can't CBC present something that everyone is comfortable with and that puts the country in a positive light.

Personally, I think the Canadian government should ask the Chinese to teach them on how to make friends and influence ngo's.


Pam said...

Ohh, so this is a blog....I have no idea what the article is about but I'm sure I'll figure it out someday...great job on it.

Anonymous said...

My vote is still sell it and let the market place sort things out. But your suggestions are far better than the current situation which is really insulting to (as you said)the majority of Canadians.

I see a some real problems with the equal time idea. If the left and right equal out their time...what about the rest of us that don't buy the preordained thought suggestions? Where does that start and begin?

But something has to be done that is for sure because I can't watch CBC with out yelling at my TV...and it isn't my TVs fault.

Craig Williamson said...

Hey Pam, welcome to the blogosphere :-)

Regarding equal time...that's not really what I meant and I don't see things as being so black and white. I'm just suggesting that writers and thinkers from various perspectives that represent different views should be represented.

"And I'm neither left nor right, I'm just staying home tonight getting lost in that hopeless little screen" L. Cohen.

Anonymous said...

Ok,that sounds good but I don't trust those that choose who gets air time.

To achieve what you are suggesting would require gutting the corp. and starting anew with layoffs of many or all at the top. Without such action people like me would remain suspect and hostile towards the corp. and I think rightly so.

Without such action I could see a 10 minute slot given over to a libertarian. At the end of the bit the CBC anchor comes on, and with a slight smirk and shifted eyebrow states, "there you have the libertarian viewpoint". You would only marginalize the various perspectives further, as they would be viewed as interlopers injecting discordance into the dominate narrative of the CBC.

I still think selling it would save Canadians money and ends the problem but what you suggest is far better than the present setup.

The truth is, at this time, the CBC creates division rather than unity. When I state my opinions, most of my liberal friends are truly shocked and offended. I find they dismiss the conclusions of others as somehow un-Canadian. I think this is a conditioned response from watching and consuming CBC without a critical eye.