Like many media outlets, the CBC is facing a massive ad revenue shortfall - the public figure is $60 million. No help is on offer from the government.
I wonder what the future will be?
To answer that question I think we ed to know what is the central ethos of the CBC?
What I see is that it sees itself as the trustee for Canadian Content on TV. In practice this means shows like Little Mosque or the not lamented Airfarce and surely Hockey!
Surely there can be a higher mission than this? The simple fact is that the ratings for traditional view of content will not be there. People just do not go to a channel to see the best of Canadian content.
So what is a "Public Broadcaster" today? Maybe its not only a "broadcaster"? Maybe it is not a centralized bureaucracy either.
I fear that the Content thinking has limited the perspective of what the CBC can be. The proof of my concern is its response to the shortfall and the government's refusal to help. The CBC is talking about buying more American Shows - suggests to me that content is the fixation. Surely the CBC does not need to compete with the rubbish that fill the dial.
Surely the CBC can use this crisis to re-energize itself and relationship with the country?
What does Canada really need? If we can understand this, then the mission emerges:
- A source of news that can offer us the context we need to understand what is really going on - business as usual, sound bites etc will not help Canadians - we need deep context
- A counterbalance to all the spin we are fed by politics and institutions - never has spin been more prevalent - all the spinners need to be tested and all the silly ideas exposed
- A place where the voice of the community can be heard - a new angle on Canadian Content - less singers and performers more the citizen - there is a wealth of expertise out there. I am not talking about mere comment - I am talking about all the expert knowledge embedded in Canadians
- A place where the best content in the world can be seen - there is room for the "Quality Channel" both on the dial as it were and also for advertisers. Curate and Convene the best from everywhere
- A place where Radio, TV and the Web seamlessly work to support each other
- A real network where the regions become nodes with real local autonomy and develop deep local roots - becomea true network
Such a CBC would be able to defend itself from Ottawa because it would have the support of the people. It would have the votes. It would have the votes because it had become a vital part of their lives.
Nice to have doesn't cut it any more. Only Vital will give the CBC the support it needs.
Now how to start the conversation and with whom?