FTLComm - Toronto - May 11, 2000

Chris Cobb

Chris Cobb of the National Post obtained from a source, details of the CBC's conversion to the TBC (Toronto Broadcasting Corporation) and published his story Wednesday. Head of the CBC Robert Rabinovitch had discussed his plans for the corporation in a closed meeting with the Federal Liberal caucus on Tuesday and had to face some seriously concerned MPs many from Southern Ontario, who feared the ramifications of the loss of local programming on the network.

on the endangered species list

The members of parliament depend on broadcasting to get their message out and if the CBC follows the trend of CTV, local news in this country will become one of those things we will talk about in the "good ole days". If you consider the problem of being a politician in a country without local news, every issue will depend entirely upon the opinions and coverage of the leader. The local politician will cease to exist in the minds of the voter. Clearly, we can understand their concerns when it is realised that they consider the changes at the CBC to be equal to putting local politicians on the endangered species list.

1,387 to 713

The plan being put forth by Mr. Rabinovitich is to reduce the CBC's working staff, anchors, news gathers, camera operators and production staff from 1,387 to 713 while leaving the administration at the present level. The sixteen local news stations across the country would be closed down with the supper news cast coming from Toronto with five regional parts inserted into the programme as the time zones march across the country. In Prince Edward Island the thirty-six people working there now would be replaced by six and in Saskatchewan sixty-four individuals would be out of work.

eliminated entirely

If all this seems vaguely familiar, remember the CBC began buying up local stations all across the country many many years ago. Local programming came from places like Yorkton, Moose Jaw, Swift Current, North Battleford, and Prince Albert ,but when they were absorbed into the company almost all of that local programming disappeared and CBC concentrated its efforts in Regina and Saskatoon. The second last round of cutting saw Saskatoon closed down and the last cuts saw the Regina staff reduced. Now Rabinovitch wants it eliminated entirely.

Not that you need this history lesson but clearly Rabinovitch does.

Canada is not a homogenous entity, it was cobbled together out of the remaining British North American territories that did not become part of the United States after the passing of the Quebec Act in 1770. The thirteen American colonies not wanting to be part of a country that was to have Catholics and Francophones having special privileges, decided it was essential to form their own country. A hundred years later Upper and Lower Canada began the process with the Maritimes to develop a country out of what was left and with the promise of a railway link, British Columbia join the confederation, as did the metis who formed Manitoba and then the two flat provinces in the middle, finally, in 1948 the island of Newfoundland. Not that you need this history lesson but clearly Rabinovitch does.

world's most unique and admired broadcasting company

With the advent of radio, it was realised that the disassociate parts of the country could be brought together using broadcasting to provide a common voice and awareness that would bridge the differences and knit together a nation. So became one of the world's most unique and admired broadcasting companies. The envy of Americans who have attempted to make something like the CBC using donations to create both a public radio and television network.

a nation state
in terms of
the map

The CBC was a creation of the parliament of the country to get us together and it was amazingly successful. Now with parliament fractured between separatists and Westerner right wing alternatives, the country has for more than a decade, been only a nation state in terms of the map, because in the day to day real world it has ceased to exist.

good ole' CBC

Free Trade and the NAFTA agreement opened up the country to extraterritorial control as corporations achieved more importance than national interests. Business of all kind supersedes individuals and democracy itself is getting harder and harder to find in practice. The common sense of the public was still able to be heard by using the good ole' CBC, both as radio and with local television news, sports and weather. Brian Mulroney and his government recognised clearly the danger to their plan to Americanise and merge what had been Canada into the United States and identified the CBC as dangerous to their goal. They hacked the CBC's budget to reduce its power and interestingly enough, the Liberal government has followed suit siding with the forces that would see the country decomposed.
  • As a kid and even during my first year of college the passenger trains knit our land together with daily deliveries and cheap transportation. They were removed so that only those in Ontario can use trains for transportation.
  • We used to have newspapers in this country, every city had its own daily or two and they had their staff of local reporters to tell us about ourselves. Now all daily newspapers are owned and operated by Southern Ontario companies (two of them) and the one or two local reporters cough up a story or two a week but most of the news is pulled off the wire.
  • We used to have local TV stations who reported local news and issues but they were bought by the CBC and closed down so that the whole province now has but one news department.
  • The CTV network which once rivalled the CBC has all but disappeared with its national news casts more then half borrowed from American networks because they have no reports of their own

issues affecting the North shore of lake Ontario

Without local news, from papers, radio and television, democracy will be a mere vapour that will simply vanish. This is not a threat but a reality, the basic premise of democracy is dependent upon an informed and educated public. It goes without saying that what is important in Toronto should not be the governing controlling issues in our lives twenty-five hundred miles away. We have far more in common with the folks in Lincoln Nebraska and Denver Colorado than the issues affecting the North shore of lake Ontario

there is nothing that will stop or change this centralisation.

The decisions made by the CBC's administration are unlikely to be changed, none of the former cutbacks and reductions were affected by regional concerns because regional concerns are precisely what the CBC is leaving behind. Even Windsor will be consider of no consequence in the new TBC and there is nothing that will stop or change this centralisation. There is no political reason not to destroy the corporation because the political process itself is concentrated and located in Toronto. The next federal election will be won or lost in Toronto, that is why the Reform party dissolved so it could get a foothold in the city and though some think its leadership will even shift to an Ontario politician that will not happen and the present regime is sure to be re-elected.

Democracy is not a good thing if you are in power

For the prime minister and his cabinet it is not in their interest to see regional politicians have a say in anything. They have no voice in parliament and the death of the television section of the CBC will further reduce their effectiveness and that is a good thing if you are the prime minister. Democracy is not a good thing if you are in power and by reducing the voices across the country you can even further consolidate your power and authority.
  Timothy W. Shire