Monday, October 6, 2008

4 Days Later: Still no response from the candidates in Carleton-Mississippi Mills

It has now been four days since I sent my question asking the candidates in the riding of Carleton-Mississippi Mills their policy on the recent programming changes on CBC Radio Two, without having received a response from any of them.

As I stated in my original question: I realize that some may think this is a small issue, but it has affected the lives of many people, more so than many of the other issues that preoccupy politicians and candidates for the riding. As such, it deserves some thought and response since, if the incumbent or candidates can not address this issue, then why should we vote for them? And, as I mentioned in my Sept. 10 2008 blog entry, we should hold the Conservatives responsible for these changes since the changed occurred during their minority govenment, even if the changes were carried out by CBC management with no direct involvement of the Parliament, Minister of Heritage or minority government.

I continue to speculate on what could be going on in the various candidates offices. I imagine a scene such as the following in one of the candidate's offices:

"So, Ted, you haven't forgotten about that question from that Wooten fellow, have you?"

"No, Bob, I haven't. I've just been so busy on our Afghanistan policy. Then, after that, I've got to work on our South Waziristan policy, our policy on trade relations with Kazakhstan and Uzbehkistan - all these 'stans are killing me, man."

Ted starts singing softly to himself: "Make a new plan, Stan. No need to be coy, Josée, don't listen to CBC! Hop on the campaign bus, Gus. No need to discuss much! Just drop the writ, Steve, and get yourself free!" Ted chuckles silently to himself over his wit.

"Where did you get that, Ted?"

"Just a bit of classical music from the '70s that I heard on the 'new 2'. I've been doing some research for my response to that Wooten guy. I'm not, like, totally ignorant, y'know."

"Ted, you're a living example of the point I was trying to make the other day concerning the value of Classical music on the old CBC Radio Two."

"Whatever, Bob" (Ted rolls his eyes.) "Speaking of points, I didn't get the point you were trying to make the other day about parliamentary and government oversight of the CBC. Surely, as a Crown Corporation, the Parliament and Minister should have no influence over the day-to-day operations of the CBC, right? The CBC should be completely independent of government influence, right? If it wasn't, well, the government of the day could influence the CBC in inappropriate ways - for example, to support it's own policies. Right?"

"Right you are Ted. The CBC should be independent of government influence. We're not going to give them, for example, playlists and tell them to play this or that. But we shouldn't treat them as a sacred cow, either, and adopt a completely hands-off policy. As a recipient of taxpayer dollars, the CBC should serve a public need that is not met by other, commercial organizations, much as other public institutions do - libaries, or the Museum of Civilization, or the National Gallery. The CBC should fill a role that commercial radio does not - not to just simply become another commercial radio station wanna-be, playing the same middle of the road crap that commercial radio stations play."

"Well, Bob, your 'middle of the road crap' is someone else's music, music they happen to enjoy."

"Yes, I'm not denying that, it's just that Canadians already have a wide range of commercial radio stations that play middle of the road crap to choose from. The CBC doesn't have to join them."

"So what are you suggesting, Bob."

"OK, it's this. The CBC has made their choice. There's not much we can do about it now. But, the fact is, they have stated that they have made these programming changes to boost their share of the radio audience. So it's clear that the success or failure of their changes should be measured by the audience share that they get. And it should be the responsibility of the government and Parliament to monitor their success or failure. After all, this is just good governance - you want to see some sort of return on your investment, in this case, the taxpayer's dollars. If there's no return, then what's the point? You might as well cut them loose and use the money somewhere else."

"Bob, you shock the hell out of me! Are you suggesting that the CBC should be privatized? That's what you mean by 'cut them loose', isn't it?"

"Well, no, not really. I'd hope that if this latest venture by the CBC isn't successful, we can redirect management back to what was previously successful; i.e. providing an alternative to commercial radio that features classical music."

"Yeah, right, as if that's ever going to happen. I'll see the Rhinos in office before that's going to happen. Whatever happened to the Rhinos, by the way."

"Merged with Reform. But the point is, Parliament and the government should be monitoring the impact that the CBC programming changes have had on their market share. And, as far as I know, no one is doing this."

"And just how to you propose to do this, Bob?"

"Simple. Market share data is available from the Bureau of Broadcast Measurement. Just compare maket share before the programming changes, for specific time slots, against market share after the programming changes for the same time slot. An increase in market share is success, a decrease is failure. Simple, no?"

"Do you want to be an ADM, Bob?"

"Sure, Ted. But let's get this election over with first, though."

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