Monday, August 30, 2010

What to do with "OUR CBC"

  Kate at SDA alerts her readers to a neon "Kick Me" sign which Friends of Canadian Broadcasting have unwittingly Scotch-taped to the CBC's back. Complaints from the SDA comments section mention the CBC's left-wing bias, the use of tax money to fund the corporation, and its general irrelevance in a society where information is readily available from many other (non-state-funded) sources. All very good points.

  When I was growing up in Saskatchewan, we had two channels: CBC from Medicine Hat, and CBC from Swift Current. For part of the year they were broadcasting from different time zones, so whatever you missed on channel 2 you could watch an hour later on channel 4. Looking at it now from my Ontario vantage point, I think this provides an excellent example of what the CBC is all about: geographically or ideologically, you get a view from the left at 6 p.m. and a view from the farther left at 7 p.m., and it all amounts to the same thing.  CBC dominated the radio at our house, too - A.M. 540 was the station that came in the most clearly, so that was where my Dad's set was tuned all the time. I don't think CBC radio was as intolerable as CBC TV - I don't know how he could have stood it otherwise. (The "As It Happens" theme song never fails to make me think of suppertime at home, so that's one of a few non-soul-destroying effects the CBC has had on my life, along with the joy derived from Hockey Night in Canada and Wayne and Shuster.) Gee, maybe I'll go to the CBC website and link to the beloved and familiar HNIC theme song...oh, wait....

  If my childhood memories serve me correctly, the only other shows that the CBC ever aired were  Hymn Sing and Front Page Challenge, and each episode lasted approximately one thousand hours, especially if you had been hoping Disney was on.  The upside to two CBC channels was that we had the chance to catch The Wonderful World of Disney twice every Sunday. It was just like today's TV on demand...except for that a state broadcaster chose what you were going to watch and you always had to be ready to start watching it exactly one hour after it was first broadcast. Still, two hours of Sport Goofy was pretty entertaining. Of course, that was back in the bad old days when the CBC wasn't as fully engaged in telling us what it meant to be authentically Canadian, as they have done recently by broadcasting Dr. Who and as they continue to do by scheduling  three hour blocks of Coronation Street. Funny how almost everything I ever wanted to watch on the CBC wasn't made by the CBC.

  In grade school I entered several creative writing contests held by CBC radio, and  I took away my share of loot, including a tiny portable Sony radio. Obviously I won the prize because I was able to keep my conservative views out of my poem about the sun coming up. I now consider these items a 0.00000000000000000000001% return on the taxes I pay to keep the CBC churning out its dreck. I know that doesn't make the rest of you feel any better, but you can borrow my radio (and my CBC toque) when you come to visit. I promise that by then I will have embroidered "PRIVATIZE THE" in big red letters in front of the CBC logo.

 My little radio still works 24 years later, but I don't use its radio function much anymore. I mostly plug my iPod into it and use it for a speaker... so that I never have to listen to or watch what I'm paying for the CBC to produce. These days it's easy for most people to plug into something more useful than a biased, state-funded dinosaur for their information, and as for isolated places where it isn't easy - well, is spending a billion dollars a year to funnel crap to them really worth it?  I'd be surprised if many Canadians feel like the CBC is telling their story, as it has claimed. Corner Gas comes a heck of a lot closer to telling my story, at least all the funny parts of it where I imagine I'm friends with Brent Butt. I think we're done with "our" CBC. Can we have OUR money back now?


  1. But then there would be no more "Little Mosque on the Prairie."

  2. And then we might think that Islam has no sense of humor.