Friday, 27 March 2009


foggy, rainy, mild temps plus 4

Very atmospheric. Love days like this. Everything outside smells musky and sweet. A real spring day. Snow almost gone...just sticking around where the plow created piles - now melted to strips.

CBC Radio and Television got word yesterday of specific cuts. Dreadful. Terrible for the people who work there, and work so hard. And terrible for Canada. The CBC is a gem, a treasure. It hasn't always done a great job, it's sometimes gone astray. Some management decisions were short-sighted, self-serving, ridiculous. Mostly when it's decided to compete with private broadcasters. In my view the CBC is uniquely placed to take chances, to do things that will get little audience but is vital to Canada - like bringing the regions to the attention of the whole.

But overall, the CBC is wonderful - and is often inspired. I think a number of 'institutions' distinguish Canada. Universal health care, the railway, and the CBC. Each built on a social-democratic philosophy...where the individual matters, and can be accomodated within a strong whole.

Sadly, each of those foundations, so strong in the 60's and 70's - has been worn away.

It was horrible to be in contact yesterday with my friends and former colleagues at CBC and hear their anguish. Canada needs a strong, fearless (sometimes flawed), public broadcaster, that has the courage of its convictions. And these people work so hard, for little money (you don't get rich by working for the public broadcaster), to bring Canadians their own stories. Private stations also do a terrific job, but their mandate is different...pretty much to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. The CBC's mandate is to reflect Canada to Canadians.

Enough. But I feel so strongly about this. I joined CBC in my early 20's - traveled across the country, living in differnt regions, because I believed in the philosophy. And wanted to know my country. And it breaks my heart to see people who have worked so hard, often thanklessly, treated so badly.

Anyway - Susan's coming this weekend. Staying in the cottage. Will be here for a bbq dinner. Really looking forward to seeing her! Off for breakfast and to do some chores.

Speak tomorrow.


Elizabeth said...

You echo my sentiments exactly re the CBC. It was sad last year when the CBC decided to gut its classical music schedule. Now, the removal of funding is going to destroy many of my favourite news and information programmes. I am a "radio" person. (It might have to do with the fact that we have a 25-year-old TV with no cable in a cold basement.) I do wonder whether the cuts have anything to do with the fact that the CBC seems so often to be the official opposition. The Harper Conservatives, with their anti-intellectual tendencies, have certainly never had any love for public broadcasting. And all this at a time when, according to the Washington Post, National Public Radio in the U.S. has seen a 60% boost in listenership.

Louise Penny Author said...

Dear Elizabeth,

I think you've hit it dead on. The CBC is exactly that. The dissenting voice. The Conservatives hate CBC, but it didn't have many friends among the Liberals either. I think, as well, CBC sometimes lost its way - straying into trying to appeal to everyone...and weakening its natural and very loyal base - like what you're describing with Radio 2.

Troubling times.

hilary said...

Working for the CBC gave me a real sense of this country, and the commonalities that exist east to west (that sometimes get lost in all that we share with the U.S., north to south). As someone in the regions (anywhere outside Toronto, Montreal Ottawa and Vancouver) I often had the sense that CBC management and the powers-that-be in Ottawa lacked that same sense of a country that has more in common from sea to sea to sea than it has differences. CBC made a mistake when it began to worry about market share and ratings. That is NOT what public broadcasting is about. It's about the numbers in a single quarter hour, however significant that quarter hour Amateur sports over the NHL. Home grown programs over Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune.

Don't get me started.


hilary said...

Sorry...that should"s NOT about the numbers in a single quarter hour...


Louise Penny Author said...

Dear Hilary,

Well said! Totally agree. And they don't seem creative about these cuts either.