Donor-supported CBC is a model worth pursuing

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Brian GiesbrechtCBC Radio was once a national treasure. From Peter Gzowski through Arthur Black, Shelagh Rogers and Danny Finkleman, a turn of the knob rewarded the listener with information, entertainment and humour.

But now, a push of the button is more likely to bring on someone eager to talk about their sexuality, ethnic origin or skin colour.

The truth is I’m perfectly happy to let people do whatever they want sexually. Pierre Elliot Trudeau said in 1968 that the state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation. I believed him then and I believe him now. Consenting adults can do what they want – I just don’t need to know about it on the CBC.

And, as for racial or ethnic matters, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela have me absolutely convinced that skin colour and ethnicity are irrelevant, so I simply don’t care if you look different than me. I’m no more interested in your culture, ethnicity or sex life than you’re interested in mine.

Today, too many shows on CBC featuring some troubled soul rattling on about their sexuality and culture make me groan; one show on the topic is more than enough.

But CBC seems to think that listeners have an insatiable appetite for angst-filled special-interest commentary, that relentlessly banging the drum about diversity, reconciliation or the world-threatening “climate emergency” every time there’s a natural weather event.

CBC has become tediously missionary rather than journalistic on these issues.

The larger issue is whether CBC should exist in its present form at all. Not only does the broadcaster duplicate services that the private sector provides, but its biased reporting, in cases such as the Gerald Stanley trial (Stanley was found not guilty of second-degree murder in the 2016 shooting death of Colten Boushie), is appalling.

Yet taxpayers are obliged to pay CBC’s substantial and rising costs.

The last thing Canada’s beleaguered mainstream media needs is competition from government-subsidized journalism. Getting rid of this hopelessly politicized duplication should be the first order of business for a new federal government.

Americans have shown us a useful alternative to a taxpayer funded CBC. National Public Radio (NPR) offers an excellent service and it only costs taxpayers a few cents each. NPR relies mainly on voluntary donors and has been operating successfully for almost 50 years.

The beauty of the American system is that if their program directors insisted on boring listeners to tears with identity politics drivel (like CBC does), donations would dry up. Their programmers have to be responsive to listeners’ wants. Something CBC’s uber-progressive executives and programmers don’t.

Almost all modern information services – podcasts, YouTube and the like – use this model: fully listener and advertiser funded. For CBC, the government chooses to continue a funding model that might have made some sense in 1936, when it was created, but certainly doesn’t in today’s Internet world of bountiful, instantly-accessible information.

Clearly, CBC doesn’t want to change its continuing programming choices – identity and climate politics, seemingly leaning ever more left. Despite collapsing audiences, as long as CBC can facilitate the present federal government’s agenda, it obviously is betting on a continuing payday.

It’s time to consider a more balanced and less expensive alternative.

Brian Giesbrecht, a retired judge, is a senior fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.

Brian is a Troy Media Thought Leader. Why aren’t you?

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The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.

By Brian Giesbrecht

Brian Giesbrecht was a Provincial Court Judge in Manitoba from 1976 to 2007. During that time he served as Acting Chief Judge, and Associate Chief Judge. He is now retired and lives in western Manitoba.

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