Saturday, June 14, 2008

The CBC begins to be responsive!

Well, will wonders never cease to exist! The CBC is now advertising upcoming programming changes on the web site, in advance of their implementation, and actually allowing listeners and/or viewers to comment! This is, of course, a change from past practice when the only comments that were allowed were via the "inside the CBC" web site, which proclaimed itself as the "official blog of the CBC".

A case in point of the CBC's apparent change in policy is the announcement of the new hosts for the weekday and weekend programming. The CBC announced on June 10 that Tom Allen would continue to host the weekday morning show, from 6:00 AM to 10:00 AM, although the new show will feature a "mix of musical genres".

Julie Nesrallah will host a new classical daytime show during weekdays from 10:00 AM. to 3:00 PM.

Rich Terfry, who records under the name "Buck 65", will host a drive-home show from 3:00 PM. to 6:00 PM.

Molly Johnson will host the new weekend morning shows from 6:00 AM to 10:00 AM.

Peter Togni will be the new host of Choral Concert on Sunday morning.

Jurgen Gothe will host a new show on Sundays from 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM.

I wish the new hosts well in their new ventures, but I (as a formerly loyal CBC Radio Two listener) will not be there to tune into their new programs. As I have mentioned on this blog, probably ad nauseum, I have defected to Sirius satellite radio, where I find programming much more to my liking. However, I continue to protest the changes taking place at CBC Radio Two since I believe my rights as a shareholder in the corporation are not being respected by CBC management. What are those rights? Why, the right to be consulted on such programming changes and the right to voice an opinion on the proposed programming changes, in an open and democratic forum.

It is the final point - the right to voice an opinion on the proposed programming changes - that has finally changed at the CBC (or so it seems, based on this latest announcement). CBC Radio Two listeners can now register on the web site and actually make comments on the proposed changes! Of course, it seems that the CBC management is continuing their past practice of ignoring the comments, but at least this is a good start!

It is interesting to read the comments that listeners have left on this site regarding the new programming - the comments are overwhelmingly opposed to the new programming. CBC management, when will you sit up and take notice that you have embarked on a voyage of self-destruction?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The gang that couldn’t shoot straight, Part II

The twists and turns that this story takes! It was reported yesterday (on the front pages of the Globe and Mail and National Post, no less) that CTV had stepped up to the plate, so to speak, and bought the rights to the Hockey Night in Canada theme song, reportedly for $2.5 - $3.0 million. The deal struck with Ms. Dolores Claman gives CTV the rights to use the theme song “in perpetuity” for their TSN and RDS broadcasts. It was also reported that CTV had, just days earlier, reached agreement with the NHL on a six-year deal to broadcast 70 NHL games per season on TSN.

So, you might ask, just how much was the CBC paying Ms. Claman for the use of her theme song on HNIC broadcasts? It was also reported that the CBC was paying $500 each time the theme song was played, as well as “other undisclosed fees”. Over an 85 game HNIC schedule and assuming that the theme is played twice per game, that works out to be $85,000 per year! Peanuts, you might say!

What if the CBC had decided to buy the rights to the theme song, as CTV has done, “in perpetuity”? How much should they have been willing to pay? At the paltry sum of $500 per use, over an 85 game season for 100 years, and assuming that Ms. Claman (who I presume is a retiree) would be happy earning the 30-year T-Bill rate of interest (currently 4.17%), the present value of this 100-year income stream is approximately $2 million.

Now, I have no way of knowing whether this would have been acceptable to Ms. Claman – perhaps she considered $500 per use of the theme song much too low – but it seems that the CBC missed out on a golden opportunity to secure the rights to the much-beloved HNIC theme song at a perfectly reasonable price. Instead, CTV put a move on the CBC that left the CBC standing at the blue line with their shorts around their ankles. Good on yer, CTV!

I realize that the last two blog entries have been somewhat off-topic, given that this blog is devoted to protesting the demise of classical music on CBC Radio Two, but is there any better illustration of the mismanagement of the CBC than this most recent fiasco?

Monday, June 9, 2008

The gang that couldn’t shoot straight

In my April 28 2007 blog entry, I speculated on the probable result of a decision by CBC TV to cancel “Hockey Night in Canada”. Of course, I was being facetious and never expected such a thing to happen, but one should never underestimate the CBC management team!

While the CBC has not taken that drastic action (just give them time!), they have done something that is equally likely to raise the ire of Canadians. Of course, I am referring to the decision by the CBC to replace the Hockey Night in Canada theme song with a song to be chosen in a contest, to be held later this year. Apparently the CBC cannot come to an agreement with the song’s composer, Ms. Dolores Claman, on appropriate remuneration for the use of the song during broadcasts.

In the week or two since this decision was announced there have been newspaper articles published bemoaning the loss of our cultural heritage, letters written to the editor of our national newspapers, petitions started, perhaps even protests in the streets by now (I was away on vacation for the last two weeks, so I’m not fully up to date on all the news). Sound familiar? Well, of course it does! The CBC has managed to alienate hockey fans nearly as much as they have alienated their classical music fans. This is no mean feat, given that these groups are often (not always, of course) widely divergent in tastes and interests. Who is left in the current or former CBC audience for the CBC to annoy? The “Friendly Giant” fan club? (Oh, sorry, I forgot that the Friendly Giant fan club is already pissed off by the CBC’s use of Rusty the Rooster and Jerome the Giraffe in a 2007 Gemini awards skit which showed the two smoking, drinking and having sex. I wish I was making this stuff up, but I’m not.)

In a recent article in the National Post, it was said that “Scrapping a TV theme song is like losing a good friend”. Robert Gjerdingen, a professor of music theory and cognition at Northwestern University in Illinois, was quoted as saying “The theme song becomes like someone in your family. It’s like meeting somebody you know. So if the song is like your friend Bill [and is cancelled], suddenly it’s like ‘Where’s Bill? Who took Bill’”?

Well, exactly. What if it’s not just the theme song? What if it’s the entire program? Such as “Music for a while”, for example? Or “In Performance”? For the CBC Radio Two listeners, cancellation of these shows is similar to losing a member of the family.

If we weren’t all being affected by these missteps taken by CBC management, it would be great fun to sit back and watch how they could further screw up the corporation