Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The CBC Survey on the future of the CBC

The CBC is conducting a survey of its viewers and listeners concerning the future of the CBC. You can find the survey here.

I suspect the CBC is paying lip service to the concept of soliciting the opinions of the viewers and listeners. I suspect they've made up their small, feeble little minds about what they intend to do already. But if you want to participate in the survey, go right ahead.

Just to give you some idea of what to expect, here are the survey questions:

Q1:  In your opinion, how important is it for Canada to have a national public broadcaster like CBC/Radio-Canada?

  • Very important
  • Important
  • Somewhat important
  • Not important at all

The broadcasting landscape has changed significantly over the last decade, with media convergence (merging media companies and merging media technologies), the proliferation of new technologies, the availability of more content choices than ever before, and more ways of having access to content.

Q2:  Considering these changes, in your view is it now more important or less important for Canada to have a national public broadcaster in the future?

  • Much more important
  • Somewhat more important
  • No more or less important
  • Somewhat less important
  • Much less important

Conventional television is changing. Across the industry advertising is moving from over-the-air television to specialty channels and digital. Finding a viable, economic model for local television is particularly challenging for all broadcasters.

Q3:  Looking towards 2020, what services do you think CBC/Radio-Canada should continue to provide in the regions?

  • CBC/Radio-Canada should continue to provide local television, online and radio services in the regions.
  • CBC/Radio-Canada should drop its local television service in some regions, but continue local radio and online coverage.
  • CBC/Radio-Canada should provide the services which are most appropriate to a region, whether they be online, radio, television, or a combination of all or some.

Many Canadians are consuming news online and on mobile devices now, and consumer trends suggest that by 2020, more will consume it that way, rather than via conventional television or radio.

Q4:  Looking towards 2020, would you prefer to receive news in the form of traditional long-form newscasts or online short-form content?

  • Traditional newscasts on conventional media.
  • Online short-form content.

Over 70% of music listening in Canada is currently via radio, but there is a downward trend in conventional radio and a move towards consuming music online.

Q5:  Looking towards 2020, if you had a choice about how you would consume music, would you prefer online distribution or traditional over-the-air radio?

  • Online music.
  • Music via radio.

Children are increasingly consuming television content online.

Q6:  Looking towards 2020, do you think that our children’s programming should remain on conventional television or be available online only?

  • Keep it on the conventional television service.
  • Move all children’s programming online.

Some consumers enjoy watching television that is delivered over the Internet (called Over-the-Top Television, or OTT).  Two examples of this are Netflix and ICI This “television” content can be viewed on a computer, smartphone, tablet, or an Internet-connected television set.

Q7:  In 2020, how would you like to receive your television content?

  • Online through services like Netflix or ICI
  • On conventional television channels as we have now.

Of 18 Western countries, Canada is the third-lowest in terms of per-capita public funding for their public broadcaster. Currently, Canadians pay just $29 for our combined services annually, while the average for the 18 countries is $82.

Q8:  As a taxpayer, would you be willing to pay

  • More than $29 a year?
  • Less than $29 a year?
  • The same amount: $29 a year?
The final question was a request for "any other comments". Here is the comment that I submitted:

It's commendable that the CBC is soliciting the opinions of viewers and listeners, but this initiative has come far, far too late. In 2007 the CBC constantly referred to the infamous "arts and culture" survey in justifying the decision to revamp the CBC Radio 2 programming, yet refused to release the results of the survey, holding on to it with a Kremlin-like grip that should have astonished members of the public. In the face of public opposition to these programming changes the CBC persisted in driving ahead with bull-dog like obstinacy, only to watch CBC Radio 2 listenership decline. So, having already destroyed CBC Radio 2, is it any wonder that we, the viewers and listeners of CBC radio and television, should have no confidence in the ability of CBC management to steer the CBC ship through choppy waters of future changes in the broadcasting ocean?

Note the use of leading descriptions prior to the actual question of the survey. Such as:

Of 18 Western countries, Canada is the third-lowest in terms of per-capita public funding for their public broadcaster. Currently, Canadians pay just $29 for our combined services annually, while the average for the 18 countries is $82.

After reading this little blurb, of course people are going to choose "More than $29 a year?"! Who wants to be a piker in the world of international broadcasting? But, the survey is what it is. Have fun!