Friday, February 27, 2009

Will CBC Axe Radio 3?

In a Canadian Press article yesterday a CBC "spokesman" mentioned Radio 3 as a possible source of funding cuts.
A CBC spokesman said such a plan could mean anything from unloading Radio 3 to putting a website up for sale.

Lacroix refused to delve into specifics, noting the drastic step was just one option as the corporation struggles with a financial crisis expected to plunge the CBC into the red next year.

In his speech, Lacroix said he has requested a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper to ask for greater financial flexibility that would permit the Crown corporation to sell some assets. He's also seeking immediate access to the next fiscal year's funding for the CBC.
This may all be idle talk and speculation. A campaign to urge additional government funding for the CBC and an unscientific poll in the Globe and Mail yesterday showed overwhelming public support for additional Government funding.

According to a report by Nordicity group the CBC ranked 16th out of 18 countries in terms of per capita government funding for public broadcasting.
"The per-capita comparison demonstrates that, among 18 major Western countries, Canada had the third lowest level of public funding for its public broadcaster in 2004. At $33 per inhabitant (all amounts in Canadian dollars, unless indicated otherwise), Canada’s level of funding was only ahead of New Zealand, and the United States (U.S.) What’s more, Canada’s funding for public broadcasting was less than one-half of the $80 average across the 18 Western countries. And Canada’s level of funding was about one-fifth of the level of the leading country – Switzerland – among those included in the comparison."
Clearly there is a need for a substantial funding increase for the CBC, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage clearly stated as much last year.

However, if the Government continues to be irresponsible in terms of Canadian culture, heritage and Canadians right to information the last place the CBC should look for cuts is Radio 3.

I don't think it is much of an exaggeration to say that Radio 3 is the bridge to the CBC's future.

In terms of technology CBC Radio 3 understands the internet and social media better than any other service the CBC offers. They are constantly aware of improvements in technology and shifts in internet culture and strive to keep up.

In terms of the audience Radio 3 is one of the few offerings the CBC has for young people. Sadly, in the CBC's case, when I say 'young people' I mean people under 40-45. The CBC, with the cancellation of Zed and jPod have already told this audience that they are not very important. Killing Radio 3 would be making this statement yet again with an exclamation point and a 'don't let the door hit you on the way out' on top of it.

In terms of the CBC's mandate none of the CBC's other arts and cultural programming (in my opinion) even meets the mandate. Radio 3 not only meets but exceeds the mandate. That mandate says that the CBC should:

  • be predominantly and distinctively Canadian (Check! Radio 3 is exclusively Canadian)

  • reflect Canada and its regions to national and regional audiences, while serving the special needs of those regions,(Check! Radio 3's music comes from every part of Canada - small town and big cities. They could do with more hosts and correspondents from other parts of the country, but that would require more money, not less)

  • actively contribute to the flow and exchange of cultural expression,(Check! Radio 3 has built a strong community among artists, fans and Radio 3 hosts across the country)

  • I'll stop there, but again - Radio 3 meets the CBC's mandate better than any other CBC service.

    So, along side the campaign to persuade Parliament to increase the CBC's funding a campaign is now underway to tell the CBC to leave Radio 3 alone. Killing radio 3 would take the wind out of the sails of the drive to increase CBC's funding and would be a clear, unequivocal declaration that the CBC is content to grow old and eventually pass away with the baby boomers.


    Sarah said...

    I add my name to this.

    John Teeter said...

    I highly doubt they would sell it off, as opposed to just pulling the plug. Who would want to cut it loose to someone else, and have it become twice as popular? Can't let that come back to haunt you.

    Great post, Justin.

    Cyndi in BC said...

    Hell, I'm 52 and I love listening to Radio 3! Without Radio 3, how would I know what kind of music is being created by the kids in Canada?

    Russ Gordon said...

    I found Radio 3 on the new SiriusXM channel guide in Nov 2008. I have been a fan since and have not found a station that even closely rivals Radio 3.
    I wonder... If Radio 3 were no more, would SiriusXM be able to fulfill the CRTC/cancon requirements that enable them to maintain Canadian subscriptions?

    That's a huge chunk of income there. Something to think about in the near future, eh?

    Thanks Justin


    ak17 said...

    Thanks for doing this, I'm in, and I've posted a link on my site. I hope other, more widely read blogs (than mine, not yours), do as well.

    Paul Sham said...

    While I have heard criticisms that CBC Radio 3 does not play diverse enough music, I agree that keeping CBC Radio 3 is necessary for maintaining the youth market and for indie artists.

    However, if the CBC were to sell off Radio 3, I think the strong community would be able to somehow keep it alive.

    Paul Sham