Column like I see 'em - Does Canada still care about the CBC? Survey says!…


By Eoin Devereux

Neepawa Banner & Press

Are you familiar with the expression, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”? Well, let’s talk about the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).

But first, allow me to be fully transparent here; originally, this editorial had a much different, darker tone to it. In that op-ed, titled “Bruno Gerussi is dead and Wayne and Shuster were never funny”, I basically eviscerated the television wing of the public broadcaster and questioned its actual value in the modern media world.

The basis of my argument focused upon the simple truth that fewer and fewer Canadians are watching their programs. According to, the CBC’s dinner-hour news broadcast registered an average national viewership of just 329,000 viewers. CTV National News, meanwhile, had more than triple that number, with 993,000 tuning in. As well, in the latest Numeris ratings report (Jan. 20 to 26), there was only one CBC show to be found within the top 30 most watched shows of the week on Canadian English language networks. That would be Murdoch Mysteries, which was all the way up there in 26th place.These figures are damning. How can you really call yourself Canada’s public broadcaster when the Canadian public doesn’t actually watch your broadcasts?

But in my zest to decimate the CBC, I forgot to examine the subject with genuine impartiality. So, in an effort to be legitimately fair and balanced, I decided to ask around and get some different perspectives on the value of the CBC. The responses were mixed. Some I spoke with trumpeted the network’s efforts to inform, enlighten and entertain Canadians of all ages, races and creeds. They lauded a variety of programming that is governed by the principles of diversity and reflect the truths of contemporary Canada… Others thought it was a tool of the liberal propaganda machine. Both nuanced and informed arguments in their own “special” way, I’m sure.

This discourse left me no closer to an answer on the value of CBC-TV than when I began. So, I believe there is only one way that we can come to a definitive answer as to how we feel about it… A cheesy, discount game show!

We can do it in the style of the 2004 CBC program, The Greatest Canadian. It was there where we, as a nation, assembled together and voted Tommy Douglas as the greatest Canadian in our illustrious history…Don Cherry was seventh. Hopefully this was a non-binding vote.

We can get Gerry Dee to serve as the host. He proved he could do the job by hosting Family Feud Canada and I’m sure he’ll be available, since he’s the only Canadian celebrity we seem to have that can’t find real work in America.

George Stroumboulopoulos can take the pro side of the argument, citing the virtues and values of the CBC, while Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson can champion the opposing argument. Johnson’s half Canadian, so that covers our Cancon requirements. Plus, who wouldn’t want to hear the Rock call Strombo a “candy ass”?

We’ll need to find a place for Ryan Reynolds in this whole thing, to help bring in the youth demographic. Cap it all off with a reunion of the original cast from Degrassi Junior High for the Gen-Xers, like myself, and I think we have ourselves a Canadian television spectacle for the ages. Obviously, we will have to broadcast the whole thing on CTV, so that people will actually tune in and watch it.

Alright, I admit the last few paragraphs were overly flippant on the subject, but sarcasm and derision are my default responses to most subjects. But, truth be told, I’m already tired of the conversation around the future of the CBC and we as a nation haven’t even truly  started that conversation. People are legitimately worked up about the public broadcaster and feel as though they’re not being heard on the matter. We have to ask the question: Is CBC television integral to shaping our national identity or is it a $1.2 billion  bill that fewer of us are still willing to subsidize? Trash or treasure?

Disclaimer: Column like I see ‘em is a monthy opinion column for the Neepawa Banner & Press. The views expressed in the article are the writer’s personal views and are not to be taken as being the view of the Neepawa Banner & Press.