CBC must take risks in its shows, say its stars

The latest plans by the CBC, the English-speaking counterpart of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, to cut costs by reducing its staff and programming, raise pointed questions about what awaits it.


Amid a projected deficit and expected belt-tightening, current and former CBC stars say the public broadcaster should prioritize shows that take risks and reflect the diversity of the national fabric.

And if money is short, several celebrities have urged managers to forgo bonuses.

“If it’s taxpayers’ money, I don’t think anyone should get a bonus, really, for anything unless they completely saved the day,” the actor said. series Son of a CritchMark Critch, at The Canadian Press at the end of December.

PHOTO OLIVIER PONTBRIAND, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

Mark Critch, in 2017

“If someone finds a cure for COVID, give them a bonus. »

Executive bonuses were a sore point for the CBC star, who stood by his comments when contacted again in mid-February, after general manager Catherine Tait did not rule out accepting a bonus This year. Mme Tait told a federal heritage committee in late January that it was up to the CBC board to determine who would receive the bonuses.

The CBC announced in December that it would cut 800 jobs and $40 million from its production budget due to a projected deficit of $125 million in the next fiscal year, which begins on April 1.er april.

However, Canadian Heritage released documents on Thursday showing that the CBC will receive a budget of $1.4 billion in 2024-2025, an increase of $96.1 million that the department says is mainly linked to salary increases.

CBC spokesperson Leon Mar said the funding announcement would “reduce, but not eliminate” the deficit and that “significant financial pressures” persisted, including rising production costs, decline in television advertising revenues and competition from digital platforms.

The broadcaster said budget constraints would also lead to fewer renewals and acquisitions, new TV series, episodes of existing shows and digital original series.

If funds are tight, observers have urged the CBC to focus on programming that reflects the diversity of the country’s population and to take risks that private channels would not normally take.

“The CBC should not be as beholden to advertisers because they are not obligated to chase audiences in the same way as private networks. They can take risks and they should do something a little different,” said Gregory Taylor, professor of media and film at the University of Calgary.

He cited shows like Family Feud Canadaa Canadian version of the American game show, as an example of how the broadcaster focuses on security.

Ideally, Mr. Taylor said, the CBC should produce more “inventive” shows like Sort Ofhis recently completed comedy-drama about a gender-fluid Pakistani-Canadian millennial balancing various identities.

New shows this year include comedy-drama Gangnam Project from CBC Kids, which follows a Korean-Canadian teenager who takes a job as an English teacher abroad and finds herself immersed in the world of K-pop. The series, which premieres March 6 on CBC Gem, is based in part on the experiences of creator Sarah Haasz, a first-generation Korean immigrant living in Canada.

Joseph Kay, creator of the hit series Transplant on CTV and drama series director This Life of CBC in 2015, is also concerned about the consequences of the broadcaster’s cuts on the future of original programming in Canada.

Late last year, Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge said the federal government would form a committee to begin searching for a new CBC director in early 2024.me Tait will expire in January 2025.

Mr. Critch said the ideal replacement would make CBC “a channel that Canadians feel is theirs, that speaks with one voice and that they feel at home.”

He said the new director should ensure the broadcaster represents the diverse regions of the country and does not only air shows that they think will be bought by American networks.


reference: www.lapresse.ca

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