Is CBC Radio still a public broadcaster?

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If you haven’t heard the big news that CBC Radio’s “Morning Show” in St. John’s is number one in the ratings, it’s not their fault.  

Ever since the results of the spring ratings were announced recently, giving CBC top billing over the perennial king of the hill, VOCM, the public broadcaster has been swept up in an orgy of shameless self-promotion.

They’ve been strutting and preening and cooeeing and crowing with all the braggadocio of a circus barker.

So what, you say? VOCM does it all the time. That is precisely my point. CBC is not a private broadcaster. It has a very different mandate.

It’s supposed to provide an alternative to VOCM and the other private stations — producing programming that commercial radio can’t or won’t do or are not inclined or equipped to do for financial reasons or advertising conflicts.

But if you listen to morning radio in the St. John’s area these days, you can hardly tell one from the other, and the CBC Morning Show is beating the private stations at their own game. The CBC hasn’t just taken their ball, they’ve stolen the field.

And, as Don Cherry, the CBC’s very own resident bigot and shrivelled up old rink rat, bellows in a commercial, “here’s the kicker-r-r-r-r, it’s free-e-e-e,” totally commercial free on the CBC.  Cherry regularly spews out his venom on CBC television, but he’s often featured on radio, too.

Back to the business at hand. The private stations have to clog up their programming with commercials to pay the bills and generate profits.

The CBC has no commercials except the freebies they give away to companies that would otherwise be buying time with the private broadcasters.        

Take, for example, Tim Hortons. If they wanted VOCM to go to one of their locations for a remote broadcast, it would probably cost them two or three thousand dollars.

But just a couple of weeks ago, the whole CBC Morning Show gang spent the better part of their program at a Tim Hortons’ outlet, and I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that dear old Timmy wasn’t picking up the tab.

Traditionally, the private stations have also earned part of their income by participating with promoters in sponsoring concerts for the big acts that appear at Mile One Centre, the Arts and Culture Centre and Holy Heart of Mary, etc.

Now, it appears, the CBC has muscled in on that action, too, promoting Leonard Cohen as if he were the second coming. You’d think that CBC Radio had discovered Cohen under a rock and was bringing him to St. John’s for his world premiere.

I love Leonard and his music, but the CBC has all but turned me from him with their silly “Goin’ with Cohen” and other over-the-top gimmickry — a never ending parade of cheesy contests and giveaways.

What’s next? A CBC reporter giving us a CBC world atomic time check as displayed on the Big 640 sign on the CBC parking lot next to the CBC studios in the CBC Valley?

I wouldn’t want to leave the impression with readers that I’m knocking the people who produce and present the Morning Show.

I think Anthony Germain is a first-rate journalist — a good host and an even better interviewer, though, in my view, his credibility does take a hit when he allows himself to be paraded around dressed as a turkey.

I believe Nancy Walsh and Cec Haire, two more experienced pros, compliment Germain with great natural chemistry all around.

I am, however, criticizing the CBC itself for not living up to its responsibilities as Canada’s public broadcaster.

Give us all a break guys, and give the private broadcasters their ball back.

 

Bill Kelly writes from St. John’s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Organizations: CBC Radio, Tim Hortons

Geographic location: CBC Valley, Canada

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Recent comments

  • david
    April 20, 2013 - 18:57

    CBC.....Blatant, agenda-driven, media propaganda infrastructure. Nothing to see here...pardon the pun.

  • Case in Point
    April 20, 2013 - 06:55

    Who ever wrote Cletus' comment is the typical CBC fan thumbing their nose at and mocking the rest of society who do not meet their lofty left wong ideals.

  • Bill Westcott
    April 19, 2013 - 18:05

    HEY BILL WHAT ARE YOU SMOKIN' THESE DAYS ME SON? WOW. I WONDER WHAT LOGO IS ON YOUR PENSION CHEQUE.. CBC OR VOCM? ME THINKS YOU ARE SPEWING A LOT OF NONSENCE. THE RANTING AND ROARING YOU DID OVER THE YEARS WITH LAND AND SEA ONLY SCRATCHES THE SURFACE BY COMPARISON TO THE MORNING SHOW'S PUBLICITY AND PROMOTION. AND.. I DON' THINK YOU WORRIED ABOUT EXPENSES AS YOU TRAVELLED HITHER AND YON ON A BETTER THAN AVERAGE TRAVEL CHEQUE. WHAT DO YOU THINK NTV THOUGHT ABOUT THE UNBELIEVABLE BUDGET FOR YOUR SHOW AS COMPARED TO THOSE OF ANY OF THEIR (NTV') SHOWS? - AS FOR PUBLICITY I WORKED AT IT FOR 35 YEARS AND BILL.. AS YOU WELL KNOW, WE DIDN'T GIVE A HOOT AS LONG AS WE SPREAD THE WORD THAT WE...WE CBC..WERE #1. AND BILL WE HAD A LARGE P.R. BUDGET TO WORK WITH TOO. REMEMBER THE GIVE AWAYS TOO?

  • Cletus the slack-jawed yokel
    April 19, 2013 - 11:05

    I agrees witcha all. We don't need no CBC on account of we got all the culturizin' from the private networks. I likes the VOCM news 'cause it's not all compleecated with stuff from the mainland. I gets all my learn' from the Learnin' channel with all them Gipsies and crab storage honey booboo wars in Tiarras and whatnot. I don't like my musick all classified when in can listen to them girls singing about their watsits. I likes my news to tell me what to think and tell me all about thems celebretees. I likes my tv all 'merkinized so I can be just likes them all on account of it's free and I don't like payin' taxes if it ain't for drones 'n stuff like that there.

  • Privatize
    April 19, 2013 - 10:26

    The worst thing is that CBC even though it is government funded, they hold most of their budget private using excuses of competition with private companies. What they release shows wasteful excess. ed Brian Lilly's book CBC Exposed.

  • steve
    April 19, 2013 - 10:18

    For me, it's all about the journalism. I can handle the comedy and foolishness, even welcome it at times, as long as it is bookended by serious journalism. CBC is doing fairly well, but there is a huge variation in the quality of the journalism. Some know how to ask the key questions, and more importantly, how to follow up and not just accept answers at face value. Others breeze through a list of written questions without really engaging or realizing that I'm on the other end of the radio or TV dying for them to get to the heart of the matter and not to let the interviewee away with statements of platitudes. Sometimes CBC gets there, sometimes not.

  • Jerome
    April 19, 2013 - 10:06

    Could it be a case of giving the people what they want? The people are the taxpayers who fund CBC. The people want to be informed and entertained, and The Morning Show is doing just that. Isn't giving your financial backers what they desire, the right way to go? The whole landscape of public broadcasting in Canada has changed because of budget cutbacks and if competing with private broadcasters is to become the norm, I'm okay with that. When many more of my tax dollars were been spent on CBC (remember when every one and his dog had a half hour show) I wasn't a regular CBC listener. Now I am. CBC radio has given me, the taxpayer, what I want, and isn't that what the public broadcaster should be doing?

  • Saieed Abdul
    April 19, 2013 - 07:29

    I agree completely. It's bad enough that much of the network daytime programming is re-broadcasts of its older shows, but if I want candy radio in the morning, I have plenty of stations to choose from. I would rather listen to a radio station that offers dignity and insight into; not one that barks at me. I want to know what's going on in the rest of the country and the world, not what great offers so-and-so has for me at the corner of Kenmount and Whatever. Is that too much to ask. Thanks again, Bill.