Dear CBC…I’ve been thinking about you again.

March 9th, 2008 § 0 comments

Dear CBC

Harsh words have been spoken since you announced plans to radically alter your programming strategy, including a significant reduction in classical music play. The requisite facegroup is already thriving, and people are talking smack about you. I wanted to let you know that I don’t think that cutting classical music is necessarily a bad thing, and that it’s not all your fault. Baby, we can still make this work.

Since even before the Chretien years, your budget has been hacked and slashed to bits. As taxpayers and voters, my friends and I are partly culpable here. More recently, we let Bev Oda and Josee Vernier (are they puppet cabinet ministers or are they just grossly incompetent?) bitch about your lack of accountability and relevance without coming to your defense. Bill C-10 is symptomatic of the Harper government’s unwillingness to engage the arts in good faith. I know you would be less inclined to throw around words like “ratings” if you didn’t have an unsympathetic government holding a gun to your head.

As others have pointed out, classical music is not the only provocative and sophisticated music thriving in Canada, and your programming should reflect this. In the Globe and Mail you argued that “only a tiny fraction – 0.8 per cent – of new Canadian songs get commercial radio play and that the Radio 2 changes will allow for much more Canadian music to be heard.” It really hurt me when you went on to name Joni Mitchell, Feist and Diana Krall as your new interests.

I think you are finding solutions to the wrong questions. You asked “How can we increase market share in the 31-49 group?”, and now are trying to fight the soft rock battle of the 401, which at best is a war of attrition. What you should have asked was, “What can we do better than anyone else that an iPod can’t?” That’s the biggest problem with the programming changes – I know you want me to listen, but Joni will always be better on my Touch.

Oh CBC – I just wish that instead of Feist, you would have said (Christine)Fellows. You’re the smart geeky kid, and you’re trying to be a cool preppy. You’ll never be hip as long as you need consultants to define the concept; by the time they write their report, it’s already so six months ago.

While acknowledging that change always meets opposition, Jennifer McGuire, executive director of radio, said that overall ratings haven’t dropped as significantly as anticipated, as some listeners tune out and new ones tune in.

My sneaking suspicion is that you’re not being completely honest with me. If you had something good going on, you’d be throwing it in my face. By the way, change doesn’t always meet opposition, and change isn’t always good. Nevertheless, I can read the writing – we’ll see each other now and then, but the thrill is gone. I should have seen it coming months ago – you don’t bring me flowers anymore…

BTW – don’t bother playing it for me – it’s already on my iPod.

(Link to a previous letter to the CBC in September 2007)

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