July 22, 2006

July 22, 2006: William Watson on CBC Radio

In the push to privatize the public broadcaster, CBC Radio has always been off-limits. Remind me again why that is? William Watson, National Post, July 20, 2006 [Let social activists pay for the CBC]

[....] Stephen Harper expressed the country's condolences for the deaths of eight Canadians caught in the crossfire in southern Lebanon, but that was not enough for CBC Radio's man travelling with the PM. In an obvious attempt at award-winning Gotcha! journalism, he huffily pointed out that the PM had declined to withdraw his characterization -- made several days earlier, mind you -- of Israel's response to Hamas and Hezbollah attacks as "measured."

The point was obvious and leaden. "Ha! Eight people are killed, including children, and you say that's 'measured.' " Time was when reporters reported. But we've grown used to 10-second clips of the principals followed by 60 seconds of the reporter's opinion. Any new mandate for CBC news should reverse the ratio. Just play what Mr. Harper had to say and let us make up our own minds about it.

CBC's pre-election 60 second hate?

[....] In other ways, CBC Radio is deeply into self-parody. The Massey Lectures this year were given by ... wait for it ... Stephen Lewis. (Dalton Camp and Eric Kierans couldn't make it, being dead.) Looking over the list of lecturers since 1961, we see names like Galbraith, Heilbroner, Saul, Ignatieff, Chomsky, Jane Jacobs, Barbara Ward, Charles Taylor, Gregory Baum, Ursula Franklin. The always-sensible Robert Fulford does sneak in in 1998, though talking about narrative, not politics. I guess all the right-wing thinkers have been busy for the last 45 years.

Eventually I gave up on Cuba, crime, prostitution, and Gotcha! and turned to CDs. I know why I paid for the CDs. Let the social activists who enjoy it pay for CBC Radio.

Has our society become so accustomed to noise and hype that people think they no longer exist unless something is blaring at them, filling the silence? Another idea: no radio nor television, just books ... music or silence ...


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