CBC TV finds itself in same sinking boat as other broadcasters
MontrealGazette.com reports that everyone agrees the CBC can’t go on like this. The CBC agrees it can’t go on like this. Announcing the latest round of layoffs and budget cuts, the corporation’s president, Hubert Lacroix, talked of “making choices and doing fewer things better,” of “accelerating the process of reinventing” itself in the face of a “media landscape (that) is transforming at an astounding speed.”
This is mildly encouraging. The loss of NHL rights may have brought things to a head, after years of declining advertising revenues and cuts in its annual subsidy, but the CBC’s dilemma (English television, that is, for whom it is most acute, and to which I refer throughout) is not about money: it is existential. It is not just that there is no longer any role for a public broadcaster. It is unclear what role remains for broadcasters, period.
The first sort of dilemma has been with us for some years. Early television suffered from a number of technological limitations. The relative scarcity of spectrum meant few channels were available. Signals could not be confined to those who had paid for them, so broadcasters financed their activities by selling advertising time. The result: a handful of networks all crowded around the middle of the road, offering the same predictable fare, aiming to attract the broadest possible audience.