There are lots of people who love to hate the CBC starting with Stephen Harper and the Conservative party of Canada. For those of you who don’t know what the CBC is, it’s the Canadian Broadcasting Company. It has been our national broadcaster since 1936 and provides radio and television broadcasting to Canadians and to interested communities abroad.
It’s mandate is to tell, create and share Canadian stories from across this enormous country of ours, from the largest communities to its more remote hamlets. Over these many years the CBC has created a Canadian cultural community of practice by employing writers, thinkers, actors, producers, researchers – in other words, people who like to think, who like to explore ideas, who like to challenge the status quo, all the while telling and yes helping to create Canadian culture. Without the CBC many communities wouldn’t even appear on the media map because it wouldn’t make business sense. And increasingly, as we all know, the CBC has faced round after round of brutal budget cuts making it difficult to operate as is. And while I’m not saying the CBC management shouldn’t be held accountable for fiscal management, the very nature of why the CBC exists is very different from your average joe -blow radio station owned by corporate profit driven interests.
I am not a CBC expert, historian or even geek. I just like the CBC and I think it’s important to have it exist in a place that’s far above partisan hatred so it can be funded properly and continue to be host to important conversations not only about our country and its place in the world but about the world at large. Rather than behaving as though the CBC (along with our environmental laws which Harper also gutted in his infamous omnibus bills) is a hindrance or completely irrelevant, why not consider it what it is – a cultural, intellectual and national platform that can continue to draw us together as Canadians.
Dragon’s Den and Q, now more famous for its infamous host Jian Gomeshi, are examples of excellence in broadcasting that have had successful uptake both inside and outside of Canada. While Canadians are known to be eternally self-effacing, it isn’t such a strange idea that we have the talent, ingenuity to provide relevant programming that reaches beyond our borders.
My own CBC tastes are simple. I love to listen to Rick Cluff on the way to work, on the way home it’s Stephen Quinn, while cooking dinner I tune into As It Happens, then I also listen or download the Current which brings the world and all of its hottest topics to me, Q offers cultural guests both large and small and great interviews, Writers and Company – long beautiful interviews with some of the world’s greatest writers, Ideas, explores complex and relevant ideas and on Saturday night I tune in to Vinyl Tap and then Cross Country Check up with Rex on Sunday’s. It goes on and on and I haven’t even touched on Radio 2. Is the CBC perfect? Good god, no. Their gross mismanagement of the Jian Gomeshi debacle was a joke from beginning to end and clearly their ‘star’ enjoyed immunity for bad behaviour for many years at the cost of others and it isn’t acceptable.
But the principle of a national broadcaster, independent from special interests including the current government is important to Canada for all of the reasons listed above. In a world of corporate media conglomerates and monopolies,we need an independent broadcaster that can tell our stories, share our ideas, and bring the world and its issues to us in a thoughtful and provocative way. And who knows, it’s not beyond impossible to think that what we produce here isn’t relevant to the world at large.
I am only familiar with a fraction of the CBC but would love to hear from others if they use other platforms, listen to other shows. I’m all ears!