At times, CBC television appears to have struggled with its own sense of identity. I recall, for instance, one CRTC hearing at which they described themselves as a publicly funded commercial operator of all things.
So, as the BTLR panel suggests, wean the CBC off advertising dollars over the next five years, by all means, caveats applying.
The first is that the money the CBC loses should be replaced by a similar amount — less the cost savings incurred by eliminating its advertising department. This should — combined with the five-year commitment — give it a stable amount of indexed funding and avoid any distress. It will also leave it free to pursue its mandate on a long-term basis without getting bogged down in the short-termism of chasing ratings/advertising loot.
Next is that, similar to the BBC, it should be allowed to earn online revenue from its websites when they are viewed outside of Canada and through foriegn distribution of any programming that it produces or co-produces. Both of these provide incentives for the production of quality programming without distorting domestic decision-making and the blurred lines between public service and commercial operation that seem to have so bedeviled it in recent decades.
The fixed five-year funding terms should — if not eliminate — at least mitigate questions regarding whether all or parts of the Corp’s annual allocation depends on good — or depending on your point of view, bad — journalistic behaviour.
Other recommendations regarding mandate, de-specifying references to which platforms the public broadcaster is to operate upon and the composition of its board (mandate regional representation and political diversity please) are generally non-contentious.
One that is questionable involves the call for the CRTC to adopt the role of “overseeing all of (the CBC’s) content-related activities.” Given the CBC’s traditional hesitation to contemplate the CRTC as its master, this looks unlikely to be an idea that ends well.
© Toronto Star