A Donor-Funded CBC?

Commentary, Government, Brian Giesbrecht

CBC Radio was once a national treasure. From Peter Gzowski through Arthur Black, Shelagh Rogers and Danny Finkleman, a turn of the knob rewarded the listener with information, entertainment, and humour. Nowadays, a push of the button is more likely to bring on someone eager to talk about their sexuality, ethnic origin, or skin colour.

The truth is I am perfectly happy to let people do whatever they want sexually. Pierre Elliot Trudeau said in 1968: “The state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation.” I believed him then, I believe him now. Consenting adults can do what they want– I just don’t need to know about it on the CBC. And, as for racial or ethnic matters, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela have me absolutely convinced that skin colour and ethnicity are irrelevant, so I simply don’t care if you look different than me. I am no more interested in your culture, ethnicity, or sex life than you are interested in mine.

Today, too many shows on CBC featuring some troubled soul rattling on about their sexuality and culture bring my groans; one show on the topic is more than enough. But, the CBC seems to think that listeners have an insatiable appetite for angst-filled special interest commentary, that relentlessly drum-bang about diversity, reconciliation, or the so-called world-threatening “climate emergency” every time there is a natural weather event. CBC has become tediously missionary rather than journalist on these issues.

The larger issue is whether CBC should exist in its present form at all. As it is, not only does the broadcaster duplicate services that the private sector provides, but its biased reporting, in cases such as the Gerald Stanley trial, is appalling. Yet, taxpayers are obliged to pay CBC’s substantial and rising costs.

The last thing that Canada’s beleaguered mainstream media needs is competition from government-subsidized journalism. Getting rid of this hopelessly politicized duplication should be the first order of business for a new federal government.

Our neighbors to the south show us a useful alternative to a taxpayer funded CBC. Their National Public Radio (NPR) offers an excellent service, and it only costs taxpayers a few cents. NPR relies mainly on voluntary donors, operating successfully for almost fifty years. The beauty of the American system is that if their program directors insisted on boring listeners to tears with identity politics drivel (like CBC does), donations would dry up. Their programmers have to be responsive to listeners’ wants–surely CBC’s uber-progressive executives and programmers don’t.

Almost all modern information services–podcasts, YouTube, and the like–use this model: fully listener and advertiser funded. For CBC, the government chooses to continue a funding model that might have made some sense in 1936, when it was created, but certainly doesn’t now in today’s internet world of bountiful, instantly accessible information.

Clearly, CBC doesn’t want to change its continuing programming choices–identity and climate politics, seemingly leaning ever more left. Despite collapsing audiences, as long as they can facilitate the present federal government’s agenda, it obviously is betting on a continuing payday.

It’s time to consider a more balanced and less expensive alternative.