Tuesday, April 29, 2008

CBC Execs invited to House Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage meeting, May 1 2008

Apparently there will be a meeting of the House Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage on Thursday, May 1 2008. The meeting will take place as follows:

Thursday, May 1, 2008
3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m
Room 237-C, Centre Block
Ottawa, ON

The topic of the meeting is “Study of plans and priorities of CBC Radio/Canada”. As I do not follow the workings of Parliament on a regular basis, your guess is as good as mine as to what this is all about.

The witnesses scheduled for this meeting are:

Mr. Hubert Lacroix, President and Chief Executive Officer

Mr. Sylvain Lafrance, Executive Vice-President, French Services

Mr. Richard Stursberg, Executive Vice-President, English Services

This would be an opportune time for the House Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage to exercise their mandate and ask these executives: just what the hell do they think they’re doing over there at CBC Radio? Trying to drive it into the ground? Develop radio programs that only the terminally bored would find interesting? Find quicker and more efficient means of wasting taxpayers money? But questions such as this, coming from the heart, would be rude. So more diplomatic questioning should be the order of the day.

So, I suggest that you write to the members of the House Standing Committee with some suggestions of questions that they ask the witnesses. Questions such as:

Q: Could you please tell the committee, Mr. Lacroix, who you believe are the owners of the CBC?

Q: As a follow-up question, Mr. Lacroix, could you please tell the committee how you ensure that your operation of the CBC continues to reflect the wishes of the owners, who happen also to be the taxpayers of Canada?

Q: Could you please tell the committee, Mr. Stursberg, what is your vision for CBC Radio Two? And how do you intend to implement that vision?

Q: As a follow-up question, Mr. Stursberg, could you please tell the committee how you intend to measure the success your implementation of your vision for CBC Radio Two? Is it measured by market share? If so, do you have a target market share for each Canadian city? Could you please tell us what that target market share is, for each Canadian city? If it is not market share, then what do you feel is the appropriate measure of success?

Q: Mr. Stursberg, could you also please tell the committee what steps you have taken in the past year to solicit listener feedback on your proposed programming changes prior to their implementation and, after the implementation of those changes, how you have measured listener satisfaction?

Q: Mr. Stursberg, assuming that you have in fact attempted to solicit listener feedback on the recent programming changes and that the feedback has been positive, could you please tell the committee why you believe so many listeners are outraged over the programming changes, to the extent that they are protesting in the streets?

Q: As a follow-up question, Mr. Stursberg, could you please tell the committee why you do not believe that protests in the street by senior citizens, middle-aged individuals and students does not reflect badly on the current government, and why Canadians should not vote against the Conservative candidates in their ridings in the next election since the evisceration of CBC Radio Two has occurred under the current Conservative minority government? (Of course, this question would be best asked by a member of the New Democratic Party or the Liberal party.)

Well, I could go on like this, but space (and my time, and your time) is limited. So I’ll leave it to all of you to think of other interesting questions that the House Standing Committee can ask the witnesses on May 1, 2008 and to send them to the members, who are:

Bill Siksay, NDP culture critic Siksay.B@parl.gc.ca
Denis Coderre, Liberal Heritage Critic Coderre.D@parl.gc.ca
John Godfrey, Liberal Godfrey.J@parl.gc.ca
Olivia Chow, NDP MP sympathetic to the cause Chow.O@parl.gc.ca
Jim Abbott, Parliamentary Secretary for Heritage Abbott.J@parl.gc.ca
Josee Verner, Minister of Heritage Verner.J@parl.gc.ca
Gary Schellenberger, Chair Schellenberger.G@parl.gc.ca Conservative
Maria Mourani, Vice chair Mourani.M@parl.gc.ca Bloc
Andy Scott Vice Chair Scott.A@parl.gc.ca Liberal
Michael D. Chong Chong.M@parl.gc.ca Conservative
Dean Del Mastro DelMastro.D@parl.gc.ca Conservative
Ed Fast Fast.E@parl.gc.ca Conservative
Hedy Fry Fry.H@parl.gc.ca Liberal
Luc Malo Malo.L@parl.gc.ca Bloc
Francis Scarpaleggia Scarpaleggia.F@parl.gc.ca Liberal

(I shamelessly copied this list from the Stand on Guard for CBC web site. Any errors or omissions are, of course, their fault.)

28 Cuts Later …

I first began this blog one year ago on April 28, 2007 to express my dissatisfaction at the changes to the CBC Radio Two evening schedule and to provide a forum where other CBC Radio Two listeners could express their opinions concerning the Radio Two programming changes. So what has happened in the past year, since April 28 2007? Well, quite a bit, as it turns out.

Weekend classical programming has been eviscerated. The CBC Radio Orchestra is being disbanded. The classical music budget for CBC Records has been eliminated. CBC Radio management have announced that Music & Company, Here’s to You, Studio Sparks, Disc Drive and Sound Advice, all popular programs among CBC Radio Two listeners, are to be cut from the CBC Radio Two schedule.

Could it get any worse? It’s hard to imagine how it could.

In spite of petitions signed by concerned listeners, letters written to CBC Radio management, the House Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage and the Minister of Heritage and protests in front of CBC buildings nation-wide, CBC management continues to force their vision, such as it is, of CBC Radio upon an increasingly resistant public. How will this end? Will CBC management succeed? Or will CBC Radio Two listeners, tired of being taken for granted, rise up and shout “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore”?

As always, it’s up to you to make your voice heard!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Protest Rally for the CBC Radio Orchestra, April 20 2008

The following press release was issued April 16 by the Save the CBC Orchestra Committee.

Please attend if you can!


Wednesday April 16, 2008 … Standing on guard for the CBC Radio Orchestra, April 20 at 2:00 pm CBC Radio Two listeners are following up on last week’s successful staging of a coast to coast National Day Of Action to demand CBC brass back down on their apparent systematic destruction of the Radio 2 network and their decision to replace it with programming completely foreign to its core audiences. The rally Sunday is a call to the CBC Board and Management to restore the CBC Radio Orchestra within a revitalized CBC Radio Two.

The rally on Sunday starting at 2:00 pm is an hour before the orchestra’s regularly scheduled, and nearly sold-out, performance at 3:00 pm.

The natural amphitheatre at the Chan entrance is a dramatic location, which will accommodate an impressive number of supporters, while allowing the 1,200 concert-goers easy access.

“It’s not the usual sort of prelude to an afternoon of live music at the Chan” said Canadian Music Centre head Colin Miles. “This situation has become a flashpoint for the general downgrading of CBC by the people who have been entrusted with our precious public broadcasting system."

“We are seeing the end of a cultural treasure that serves Canadians coast to coast and is an essential player in our musical exports to the world. Elimination of the CBC Orchestra is the destruction of our ability to tell our stories. It amounts to censorship and stifling of free expression of our composers" he stated.

“At 2 cents per year per person, how can CBC management, the board and Parliament agree to this? The issue has now been raised on the floor of the House of Commons and we will be keeping the pressure up.” added Colin Miles.

Three years ago CBC management stopped the CBC Orchestra from working in the studio to record music for broadcast and CDs and told they could only give public performances. Renting concert halls and paying for publicity to promote concerts is expensive. This orchestra has a recording studio that was built for them and well trained creative producer, recording engineer and orchestra librarian on staff. CBC management needs to be reminded what power in creating programming they have by keeping their orchestra. We are calling on CBC to restore the orchestra and get the musicians back into the studio to do what they do best for the benefit of all of Canada. As the CBC Radio Orchestra's own webpage states "With an audience as diverse as the Canadian experience, we create engaging musical radio programs, commission and perform new works as well as established classics, and showcase exceptional Canadian performers and conductors."

Rally organized by:
Save the CBC Orchestra Committee
Based in Vancouver, Reaching Across the Country

For more information:
Joan Athey 250-294-6040 to April 18 604-908-9124 April 18, 19 & 20.
Laurie Townsend 604-822-9161

Friday, April 4, 2008

National Day of Action to protest CBC changes, April 11 2008

A National Day of Action is planned for a number of Canadian cities to protest the recent decisions by CBC Radio management to disband the CBC Radio Orchestra and to reduce classical music programming on CBC Radio Two.

The Facebook site announcing the time and locations for the protests can be found here.

Having spent the past year writing letters to CBC Radio management, members of the House Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage and the Minister of Heritage (with very little results, I might add) I am gratified to see Canadians rising up to protest the heavy-handed actions of CBC Radio management.

Let April 11 2008 be known in future years as Canada’s classical music equivalent to France’s Bastille Day, when citizens rose up and overthrew a tyrannical bureaucracy!