Monday, June 23, 2008

Hey CBC! I'm Calling You Out


So one of the big stories dominating the news across Canada since the day after the final puck dropped on the 2007/08 NHL Hockey Season has been the CBC's decision to drop the "Hockey Night Theme Song" from their Hockey Night in Canada Broadcasts. CTV, being smart as all heck, scooped it up after The CBC announced on Friday that they were letting the Theme go in favour of an "American Idol" type contest to find a new song. I was going to weigh in earlier, but frankly, the whole thing just makes my head, and my heart, hurt. I hadn't thought they could screw up HNiC Coverage any more than they did when they tried to fire Ron MacLean and there was a huge Canadian outcry. For other key perspectives on the whole Hockey Song debacle, get it straight from The Spin Cycle as well as from Madeleine Morris, daughter of The Hockey Theme Composer Dolores Claman.



The Hockey Theme... it's a part of who Canadians are.



Toronto Star: Reactions from the street.



Quoting Wayne Gretzky "As I say to people to this day the greatest song in Canada is the Theme Song to Hockey Night in Canada and to this day it still sends a shiver up my spine when I hear the song come on."


I also left a tidy Comment on the insidethecbc Blog:

"Kill The Orchestra. Kill Classical. Kill jPod. Kill Intelligence. And now Kill The Hockey Night in Canada Theme Song?

WTF is going on there? How come us normal everyday Canadians do not get a say in any of these decisions? As I’ve come to learn, we can protest this quackery until we are blue in the face, but our cries are squashed quicker than a mosquito in Muskoka.

Is there some sort of Citizen Committee that is involved in what Programming and Content is on the CBC? If there isn’t, there should be. I’ll be the first to volunteer.

The HNiC Theme is practically our Nation’s Second Anthem, recognized throughout the world. That music blaring from the TV was like a battle cry - especially as a kid, when I heard it I ran to the “Rec Room” with my Dad and brothers to watch Saturday Night Hockey. My own boys flock to the TV when they hear it.

My Dad was the Ultimate Hockey Fan, Coaching 4 sons, and a daughter, all throughout our lives. He passed away in 2006 with a Jersey hanging from his I.V. pole beside his bed at St. Michael’s, and fortunately lived long enough to see one of his Grandsons make it to the NHL. I can’t even stand the thought of how upset he would be about this!

All this…. for an “American Idol” type contest to find a new song, which by the way has been in the works for over a year. The increase Mrs. Claman is asking for is standard throughout the industry, and little old me was able to find out that among the numerous options presented to the CBC was a suggestion to do the same license that has been in place for about 10 years. (There would be no increase in license fee for the first 2 years, and in the business of licensing music, it is pretty much etched in stone that any time a license is renewed or extended, there’s a bump in the fee by approximately 15%.)

What is so unreasonable about that for something that is considered a Canadian Tradition? It’s more than “Just a Song”, for many, it’s a part of who we are.

Bah, I’m done with you, CBC. You may be the “Canadian Broadcaster” in name, but I feel that you no longer effectively represent me as a Canadian."

I think I got my point across. In the end, it looks like The Ceeb will end up paying dearly anyway, as they were caught with their hand in the Cookie Jar.


Canadians get creative regarding CBC's decision to stop airing the Hockey Theme on HNiC.

CBC stands for "Canadian Broadcasting Corporation". So why is it that they continue to alienate the very people that they are working for? Add it to the long list of completely inept decisions the CBC has been putting over on Canadians. The very people that fund the CBC. It's bad enough that Canadians were also subjected to a Lockout in recent years as well.

I've been sounding off on here for the past couple of months about the CBC's decision to cancel jPod, so I guess I really shouldn't be surprised at yet another bonehead move by The Mothercorp(se?).

So what is an everyday Canadian like me to do when we feel that our Nation's station that is supposed to represent and deliver the Canadian content that I want, doesn't? Like I mentioned in my comment above, is there no Citizen Committee that has a voice to weigh in on the choices they make? It's bad enough that even if we do embrace a show, such as jPod, chances are we aren't getting counted in the ratings anyways as the CBC relies on outdated BBM Ratings which is archaic in an age where so many people have taken to watching television online:

"Chris Haddock, producer of Intelligence, pointed out the lunacy of the CBC gauging a shows popularity, especially among young viewers on the weekly BBM ratings since so many young television fans don't own their own homes and so cannot be counted, and many of them watch TV on the Internet."

"The ratings themselves have been questioned very profoundly all over the world about their accuracy and their relevance because you have to be a homeowner,"

"So university students don't get counted, a person who is a renter doesn't get counted, a lot of people under 30 don't get counted, so it's absurd on many, many levels. I mean do you have to buy a home to get counted in the ratings?"

Reading this today just gets me angrier.

An excerpt from the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting article reads:

"CBC will air more foreign programs than ever before on prime time English TV next autumn, defying CRTC licence expectations and confirming that CBC has lost touch with its public broadcasting purpose, says the watchdog group FRIENDS of Canadian Broadcasting.

CBC will regularly broadcast 7 hours of foreign, mostly US, programs during prime time. This is a substantial increase, eclipsing the highest level of foreign content ever tracked since FRIENDS first began monitoring CBC’s English television schedule in 1990. CBC has logged a steady increase since the current head of CBC English operations took charge of television in the summer of 2004.

This plan will place CBC in defiance of the CRTC’s broadcast licence expectation of 80% Canadian content during prime time and runs counter to the recommendation of Commons Heritage Committee in its recent report on CBC’s mandate “that prime-time hours, from 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm Monday to Friday, on the CBC/Radio-Canada’s television networks, should be reserved for Canadian productions”.

“CBC is supposed to be about presenting Canada to its citizens, not American game shows and Hollywood movies...”

So there it is. Quite a similar argument in my article on the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting site. I was referring to jPod, but I think this ties right in:

"In February 2008, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage (a committee comprised of various MPs) produced a report entitled CBC/Radio-Canada: Defining distinctiveness in the changing media landscape. The purpose of the report was to study the future role of public broadcasting, and to present the Committee's findings and recommendations. All of the below statements, taken directly from the report, play straight into jPod's strengths. From the Committee's report:

"[CBC] must constantly keep up with new technologies and reach out to audiences where they are, including young people who seek content on the Internet." (p.5)

"We are asking CBC/Radio-Canada to be original, of high quality and innovative" (p.9)

"Mandate of the CBC/Radio-Canada as stipulated in the Broadcasting Act (1991, c. 11, B-9.01, [Assented to February 1, 1991)(i) be predominantly and distinctively Canadian […]" (p 18)

"[…]CBC should make large increases to arts and cultural programming, for example, by producing more contemporary Canadian dramas, historical documentaries, and TV movies." (p.34)

"Dwindling audience share is not unique to public broadcasting, and audience measurement will need to adapt alongside the transition to digital media. Internet broadcasting, downloading and streaming content, PVRs and on-demand and pay services mean that the same film, television episode or news broadcast will be seen by many more viewers than those who tune in for "appointment television"." (p55)

"CBC/Radio-Canada's online presence will be fundamental to its relevance to Canadian audiences in the future." (p57)

Clearly, they are not following The Reports Recommendations.

Something else that is completely astonishing? The CBC sold the Taxpayer Funded International Sales Catalogue, and to a Foreign buyer no less.

Details from the Canadian Press article states "the deal saw 135 titles and 700 hours of CBC's international sales catalogue sold to UK based ContentFilm. The CBC has released few details of the deal, which allows ContentFilm to sell the rights to the CBC shows to broadcasters around the world."

"It makes no sense why the CBC never attempted to invite Canadian companies in particular to participate in a transparent auction of publicly owned assets. If this had been any other Crown corporation who had transferred hard assets without tender . . . heads would roll.''

"This is a public trust that every Canadian taxpayer has contributed to in this library,'' veteran actor Paul Gross said. "The fact that it appears to have been sold with absolutely no open bidding, discussion, or presentation to the public is bizarre. This is a question of national ownership. What's up for grabs next? Algonquin Park? P.E.I.?''

A quick Google Search of "CBC Screws up" returned 94,700 English pages and many, many more stories...

- The CBC draws protests from across Canada regarding proposed changes to CBC Radio 2.

"The changes, to take effect this fall, include the cancellation of some classical programs and the shifting of others to what disgruntled music fans say are inconvenient, off-peak hours when most people are either working or at school."

Classical Fans have another alternative though, and Moses Znaimer is going to save the day.

-The CBC has announced at a meeting in Vancouver on March 27 that they would be dissolving the 70-year old CBC Radio Orchestra.

“Really, it’s a case of straight up economics,” said CBC spokesman Jeff Keay. “We couldn’t afford to maintain the orchestra.” The CBC has promised that the funds saved by the decision will go towards commissioning works from other orchestras across the country. Many in the arts community are concerned about what they perceive as the progressive “dumbing down” of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and are working to ensure that an opposing voice is heard and that the CBC is made aware of the public’s concern."

-From the Website calling for the CBC to keep the Orchestra:

"The orchestra is the most historically significant orchestra in Canada, the last radio orchestra in North America, with a mandate of performing and supporting Canadian musicians and composers. The ensemble is arguably the most talented, most recorded (32 recordings), and most beloved orchestra in the country. Lots of superlatives, but that is not all. They are a treasure. The orchestra is part of our uniqueness; it is part of what makes Canada “Canada flavoured”. I don’t want my Canada to be watered down by bored bureaucrats tending bar. I want my Canada full strength. This orchestra is that. Its roots reach back to 1938, it is an icon.

"CBC Radio ended this orchestra with the stroke of a pen, with no consultation with Canadian taxpayers who fund the CBC, paying the CBC to uphold its mandate of providing and supporting uniquely Canadian programming. What could be more unique than this important ensemble of Canada’s most talented musicians?"

"If we allow this significant Canadian institution to be dissolved, one day we may be wondering where all the orchestras have gone, where all the dancers, singers, and artists have gone. I don’t want that Canada. If all that is left of Canadian culture is that which is saleable or marketable or easy, we are not in a country, we are in a shopping mall."

From the Radio Two and Me Blog :

"Of course it’s related to the move away from classical music on CBC Radio! In case you haven’t noticed, there’s been a well-orchestrated (no pun intended) campaign against classical music taking place within the CBC for several years now, with the first outbreak of open hostilities being the cancellation of “Music for Awhile” and “In Performance” on March 19, 2007. The latest announcements of reduced classical programming during the day and the disbanding of the CBC Radio Orchestra are just mopping-up operations in that campaign."

Even The Canadian Heritage Committee is recommending that the CBC not disband The Orchestra.

-Anglos watching RDS instead of CBC? Some of Andy Blatchfords' article from THE CANADIAN PRESS:

"The Montreal Canadiens are grinding their way through the playoffs in a promising push that has millions of Quebecers basking in the glow of their televisions.

"In the excitement, French-language sports channel RDS has reeled in more Quebec viewers than CBC has nationwide with its Habs broadcasts.
And even many English-speaking hockey fans are tuning in to the French coverage. Some Anglos in Quebec say they're choosing RDS over the CBC's English coverage...."

-They axed Street Cents, the consumer affairs show aimed at teenagers.
From CBC News:

"For 17 years the Street Cents gang reviewed products and discussed issues relevant to younger viewers, from video games to emergency contraception."

"Actor Jonathan Torrens hosted Street Cents from the late 1980s to 1996. The show, produced out of Halifax, has won national and international awards, including seven Geminis and an international Emmy."

Heaven forbid they have something relevant to young Canadians!

Another story that also has personal meaning for me as I am half Métis, happened back in 2002. The leadership of Canada's Métis National Council said CBC-TV's mock trial of Louis Riel was an "abomination" and a "gross violation and betrayal" of the public broadcaster's mandate. Gerald Morin, president of the council, filed a formal letter of complaint with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. Morin criticized the program for:

- Not involving Métis in its production, which he says is part of CBC's mandate when dealing with projects relating to aboriginal culture;

- Not having a Métis play the role of Riel;

- Judging a historical occurrence under today's laws.

Morin also asked the CBC to air a documentary that accurately portrays the history of Riel and the Métis and their role in securing Confederation.

The CBC said the broadcaster did not produce the program; the show was conceived by the Dominion Institute, a historical society that promotes knowledge and discussion of Canadian history. But shouldn't the CBC have made sure that the Dominion's program met their Mandate and used a Métis actor? Dominion stated it needed well-known high profile lawyers to attract an audience and that's why they didn't use a Métis actor.

The CBC gave other excuses regarding the program, like it was "Part of a Series." But really, the rest was only a story on The National, and a panel discussion, albeit with all Métis panelists, the latter installment came to be only after Morin raised concerns.

You would think after this happened, the CBC would have been a little more careful about their Documentary content. Apperently not though:

-James Cowan, CanWest News Service; with a file from Daphne Bramham Published: Thursday, November 11/08/07:

"The CBC cancelled the airing of a documentary about the Falun Gong spiritual movement after receiving calls from the Chinese embassy expressing concern about the film's subject matter."

"Beyond the Red Wall: The Persecution of the Falun Gong was scheduled to appear on Tuesday evening on CBC Newsworld. It was replaced at the last minute by a rerun of a documentary on President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan. The broadcaster says it changed its schedule because recent turmoil in Pakistan made the Musharraf documentary "timely." However, a spokesman acknowledged the CBC has received calls from Chinese diplomats about Beyond the Red Wall and intends to review the documentaries contents before returning it to its broadcast schedule."

"We were contacted by the Chinese embassy and they've just expressed their concern that the doc[umentary] be accurate -- that's not a problem with us," said Jeff Keay. "We're having conversations with the doc's producer just to review its contents and make sure it's a good solid documentary."

"Peter Rowe, who wrote and directed the documentary, said a CBC executive called him late Tuesday afternoon to inform him the film would not air that evening. The executive also asked if Rowe could come to a meeting to discuss "re-editing" his documentary."

"It's rather surprising, because the film has been in production for about three years and was delivered to the CBC in March, so the authorities and the executives at the CBC signed off on the film quite some time ago," Rowe said.

"Rowe, a television veteran with credits spanning three decades, said the CBC's decision to revisit the film after giving it final approval is odd.
"It's almost unheard of," he said. "You really have to question why they decided to cancel it at this insanely late hour."

The CBC eventually aired the Documentary. From Peter Worthington, Toronto Sun:

"An array of CBC officials have since denied that China's protests had anything to do with the decision to cancel the show a few hours before it was to run." "CBC spokespeople gave several versions until they co-ordinated scripts to explain that the 11th-hour cancellation was really a postponement for journalistic reasons, and that producer/director/writer Peter Rowe agreed to make minor changes. "

This here interweb is full of stories of Canadians frustrated with the CBC.

-Why Lie?

-Food for Thought?

-Lack of Intelligence - Blame the Leafs?

-This Was Wonderland

- Charges of Racism

- CBC UnadVENTUREous

-CBC Radio Three's lauded Web mag dies from Alexandra Gill:

VANCOUVER -- "If you've never seen the CBC's award-winning arts and culture Web magazine , be sure to check out the current edition. It is the last one. After 100 issues and three prestigious Webby awards (among numerous other international design, art, communication and technical-engineering prizes), the on-line magazine has been killed off as the public broadcaster's innovative Web service tries to reinvent itself once again with a new mandate focusing squarely on music and more traditional radio programming."

There's other little things too. jPod was nominated for 15 Leo Awards, and there was not one mention of it anywhere on CBC.ca, not even when the show nabbed 4, including Best Screenwriting in a Dramatic Series. I knew they would win that one though, as all 4 scripts from that category were from no other show except jPod. Brilliance is highlighted in the TV Community, but not the CBC who aired it? I believe they just didn't want to bring attention to the fact that they cancelled such a promising program.
Jpod Fans have been pretty much been ignored altogether by the CBC, thank goodness there are people like jPod Writer and Leo Award Winner Daegan Fryklind who stand up for us little people.


Fan Made jPod Poster signaling the rebroadcast of the Series.

Even though jPod is being rebroadcast over the summer (The Series is already bought and paid for anyways, right?) it has been fans spreading the word with barely any advertisement by the CBC promoting it's return. In fact, yesterday morning when I went to the CBC website to see about the show airing last night, the main page for Thursday was trumpeting The National. I e-mailed to ask why even on the day of it being on was there hardly any promo, and it seems only after a Detroiter wrote about his disappointment over the cancellation and it started to show up on Television websites and Blogs did they feature jPod on Thursday's television page later on in the day.

The most recent blow from the Ceeb has been to cancel Search Engine, the CBC Radio 1 show about technology and digital culture.

"Host Jesse Brown made the announcement at the end of his last show this June 19th. The show has just won a New York Festival International Radio Award, and was the most-downloaded weekly news and current affairs show from the CBC."

Does that make sense to you? For the CBC to cancel their most downloaded show?

Host Jesse Brown is brilliant, and I think he caught Jim Prentice off guard regarding Bill-C-61. I wonder, is the cancellation of Search Engine and this breathtaking Podcast a coincidence? Hmmmmm. Once again, people are upset with the CBC, and again, it seems the CBC has it in for what is probably mostly a tech savvy younger demographic. It makes one wonder; "Is the CBC afraid of smart people?"

Smart people question things. Canadians Fund the CBC and have the right to question their National Broadcastors' Content and Programming. The CBC doesn't like to be questioned. Believe me, as a jPod, Classical Music and Hockey Fan, I know. They eventually write you back a couple of months later and it's always the same "Blah, blah , blah, we're sorry you're upset but watch/listen our new shows in the Fall!"

CBC Execs will trot along with no one to answer to, continue to fly Executive Class when CBC's own corporate policy for CBC travellers outlined on its website. states: "The standard for air travel is economy" and flights should be for the "lowest logical airfares available" unless approved by a vice-president. Continue booking their personnel in $800/ Night Hotel Rooms with Personal Butlers. Continue to air that commercial about all of their awesome Summer Movies - every single movie previewed being American. Continue to pay for Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune even though it's on like 8 other American Stations at the exact same time and bumping out Marketplace, and don't forget they pay for Simpson's reruns when all of that money they are spending on importing foreign programming should be going to Canadian Produced Productions. Continue to forget who exactly they are working for and represent Canadians properly because frankly, we deserve to have a Majority of Canadian Content... it's all just so sad, really.

I'm sure I could go on and on, giving a hundred more examples of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporations', in my opinion, flagrant mismanagement, but I fear that my rant is all for nothing. The Canadian Taxpayer will continue to fund the CBC and put up with whatever decisions "they" make for us, because we have no choice not to.

I believe The CBC will eventually be lost in the abyss of 1000's of Stations and eaten alive by Cyberspace, that's where their future demographic of Neilson Raters reside this very moment, and how many of those young 'uns can say that they ever even watch the CBC on a regular, loyal basis, except maybe for Hockey Night in Canada? Oh wait, make that Hockey Night on TSN... where the "old" song went and where Chris Cuthbert is already waiting.




- All quotes link back to their original Web Postings
- "Hourglass" picture from fewings.ca
- "Return of the jPod" poster courtesy of Micronaut
- Originally posted June 10th, Edits on 19/08, 23/08

2 comments:

Tania said...

Excellent rant, Stephanie! I with so much of what you have written.
Unfortunately, I think we're witnessing the slow extinction of a national institution :(

Anonymous said...

An institution? A situation that makes one's heart hurt? One of the greatest songs ever written?

I truly think Calixa Lavallée would be insulted.

I acknowledge the soft spot Canadians have for this glorified jingle, but was there this must "outrage" when Canada's Eaton's closed its doors? Or Canada's Northern mining towns close down?

Believe me, music lovers, there are far worse things.