Friday, May 4, 2012

Fade to Black

Of all the criticisms of the CBC during its continuing deep dive into mediocrity, none is more damning than a recent line from writer Peter C. Newman.

Newman, author 25 books and Canadian icon, in reviewing The Tower of Babble: Sins, Secrets and Successes Inside the CBC, wrote that when he came here as a refugee from Hungary, the CBC on radio taught him about Canada. Then, he adds:

While my love of country abides, the national broadcaster is no longer part of that equation.”

What a devastating indictment of the CBC from one of Canada’s cultural elite. CBC, which considers itself at the centre of cultural elite, no longer is a part of most Canadians’ lives.

The Tower of Babble, published last month, was written by Richard Stursberg who was hired in 2004 to resuscitate the English services of the Mother Corp., and was dismissed six years later after losing head butting wars with the CBC president and its board of directors.

It is an interesting book for anyone who wants to know why dwindling numbers of Canadians pay any attention to the taxpayer supported radio and television network. It tells how labour problems have poisoned the workplace, and how refusal to change its CBC-knows-best culture has kept away audiences.

CBC once was a respected powerhouse of news and information. Today it tells us little that we don’t already know. It has lost its ability to tell Canadians in all parts of the country about trends in how we are living our lives. It has reduced itself to telling us what we already have heard is happening in Toronto and downtown Ottawa.

It is a sad story, but as they say nowadays, ‘Hey, things happen.’ There is little point moaning about the CBC, or trying to revive it. The CBC is in palliative care. It’s best now to let it go peacefully.

One of these days Peter Mansbridge will be standing at his teleprompter when the screen begins to fade. In the background, Ottawa reporter Terry Milewski will be trying desperately to get in the last words in his latest rant against the Harper government. Then the screen will go black.

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