If I may be honest about what I’m thinking … this was long overdue.
Ever since the CBC’s English TV network lost the rights to NHL hockey, most Canadian media watchers have been playing the “whither the CBC” game. And now the axe has fallen, and now we know what the future of the network is going to look like. And it can be summed up in one word: worse.
What emerges from this news is that the one part of the network that came out relatively unscathed — News and Current Affairs — is actually the one department that needed to be culled. There’s even the suggestion, in an earlier Globe story, that News and Current Affairs proposed to indulge in some empire-building.
The reason I say News and Current Affairs needs some serious pruning is that, for at least the past decade, the CBC’s broadcasting mindset seems to be overdominated by News and Current Affairs. Think 22 Minutes, think The Mercer Report. Even comedies like Little Mosque on the Prairie and dramas like Intelligence have the whiff of being “inspired by the headlines” — headlines generated by News and Current Affairs.
The role model that the CBC always likes to hold up — the BBC — is actually a fairly balanced mix of programming. Most of their comedies and dramas aren’t driven by contemporary concerns that come out of the news headlines, and there are actually a lot of them. The counter-argument of course is that the BBC can afford this due to the consistency of funding provided by a license fee, but what they conveniently forget is that their executive also have good people willing to promote good programming with no one genre in dominance — something that hasn’t existed in the CBC’s corporate culture in years.
I don’t know when Hubert Lacroix’s tenure at the CBC is supposed to end, but once it does, his successor should probably give some consideration to “retiring” more of the CBC’s senior execs. Not just because it would help save money, but because if the CBC is to have any hope of surviving at all, it needs new blood at the top, blood that’s not so beholden to notions of “tradition” and “mandate” that are outdated in today’s broadcast environment.