Kim Jong Il Watch™ (2)

You know that favourite trope of Randroids, Reformers, and red-meat eaters – that the CBC is a “state broadcaster”?

It took mere days for somebody to play that card in the comments section. And it keeps coming up. In fact, it’s been a dependable slug in right-wing-assholes’ Saturday-night special for ten years.

How do I know? I searched the Canadian Newsstand index for all such occurrences since 1998. (This is not “Googling.”) The subculture that decries abortuaries but dearly wishes the electric chair (better yet, the noose) would finally return to this God-forsaken land has really been wearing out those Scrabble tiles.

Canada is a state and the CBC is a broadcaster, but the CBC isn’t a state broadcaster. It’s a public broadcaster. The sitting government of the day does not use the CBC to directly transmit its diktats to an oppressed citizenry. I haven’t been to North Korea, but I have read Welcome to Pyongyang, and lemmetellya, Fort Dork doesn’t look anything like the deserted marble palaces of Pyongyang.

But to these people, the station that gives Rick Mercer a show without even asking him to pull his teeth out of the water glass on the nightstand is no better than an apparatus of Kim Jong Il. The curious thing is that these same people complain the CBC is too left-wing and unpopular. They never level the same complaints against, say, CBCR3 or RDI, but we know already that consistency is not their strong suit.

Here we begin a series of postings that excerpts the bons mots of the writers who pride themselves on having such a strong grip on reality they know two things for sure: Santa Claus never shimmied down the chimney when they were kids and the Canadian Broadcorping Castration is nothing but a state broadcaster.

Today, Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition takes the floor and makes the rational case. We begin right where you expect us to begin... with Antonia Zerbisias.

  1. “A Harper win is party stopper.” Antonia Zerbisias. Toronto Star. June 22, 2004. p. C06

    The latest news to tumble off the Stephen Harper Conservative bandwagon reveals that, not only would he allow the raining down of more U.S. signals, but he would also scrap the CRTC.

    That would hand over broadcast licensing directly to government – just like they do in banana republics where dictators decide who owns the TV stations.

    Think about that. If, say, a newscast runs an unflattering report about el presidente, then yank goes the licence. And Conservatives now call CBC a “state broadcaster”?

  2. “Culture, arts again abandoned in Liberal vision.” The Spectator. Mar. 4, 2000. p. W02

    This government has never been able to gets its collective head around the idea that there’s a difference between a state broadcaster and a state-controlled broadcaster. Perhaps [Robert Rabinovitch] was glad to be ignored by [Paul Martin] after all.

The real fun begins tomorrow.

Today, who has shown themselves to be unclear on the concept that the CBC is a public broadcater, not a “state” broadcaster? For the most part, hacks from the Tubby and incumbent Southam and CanWest papers. And “Toronto’s national newspaper.”

The wit and wisdom of the Windsor Star

The what where?

  1. “Milewski won; voters lost.” Chris Vander Doelen. Windsor Star. Mar. 27, 1999. p. H3

    But here is the downside of having an official state broadcaster: CBC management obliged by yanking Milewski from the story, thereby proving themselves to be nothing less than propagandists – mythmakers on the government payroll.

    Milewski was suspended without pay and put under internal investigation by the CBC, although he retaliated somewhat by going on “sick leave,” which seems to be an epidemic in many workplaces these days.

  2. “The CRTC: An agency past relevance.” Windsor Star. Jan. 5, 2000. p. A6

    This week the CRTC, Canada’s state broadcasting regulator, is scheduled to give the CBC, Canada’s state broadcaster, a “road map” of what it wants on the air for the next seven years. Reports indicate the two public agencies vehemently disagree about the ideas of the other.

  3. “Tory agenda: Getting back on track.” Windsor Star. Apr 23, 2001. p. A6

    [Now even Ontario is a “state”!]

    Privatization – one of the big promises made by the reborn Ontario Conservatives – never happened. The liquor stores are still a government enterprise, we now have three Ontario Hydro monopolies instead of one. and TVO remains a state broadcaster, its political panel shows droning on like a mini-CBC.

  4. “The CBC: Getting out of the game.” Windsor Star. Oct. 2, 2002. p. A8

    The CBC was right not to renew the contract of hockey commentator Ron MacLean. It would be a reckless abuse of taxpayers’ money for the state broadcaster to pay MacLean anywhere near the $600,000 he was reportedly seeking in contract negotiations.

  5. “The campaign: CBC and politics.” Windsor Star. Sep. 9, 2003. p. A.6

    With the incumbent Tories closing in on the Liberals in recent polls, it is very possible there could be a down-and-dirty campaign during the Ontario provincial election. Or it could be just a gentle campaign. Or the CBC might engage in no campaign. The problem for the citizens of Ontario is that we won’t know what campaign, if any, the state broadcaster decides to run. That’s because the CBC falls outside of access to information rules. [...]

    Canadians would be much better off if the head of the CBC was picked by an all-party committee and the access-to-information laws were updated to include the CBC. Either that, or the state broadcaster should get out of political reporting all together.

    But nothing will change in time for the Ontario provincial election, or even the next federal one, for that matter. In the meantime, Ontario voters who listen to the CBC should watch carefully for bias that gets hidden in loaded words, carefully chosen stories and selective use of quotes and interviewees.

    Unfortunately, if you find something that could be bias from the taxpayer-funded broadcaster, access-to-information laws will not help you figure out if it was just an accident, someone’s personal bias showing through, or an integral part of a campaign. And that’s not right or good.

  6. “Satellite radio: Howard Stern and the CBC.” Windsor Star. Oct. 29, 2004. p. A8

    Lost in all the media hype over Howard Stern’s planned move to satellite radio was the fact that the CBC – the state broadcaster – could end up determining if Canadians ever get a chance to legally hear the shock jock.

  7. “The CBC: The need for a disclaimer.” Windsor Star. May 11, 2004. p. A6

    The head of the CBC is also appointed by the prime minister. Canada’s leaders have tended to be Liberal – especially since CBC television hit the airwaves in 1952. Liberal PMs have reigned for 36 of the 52 years CBC television has broadcast. A similar pattern holds true as far back as the launch of CBC radio.

    In general, the Liberals have been kind to the CBC in terms of funding. And the Liberals haven’t questioned the need to have a state broadcaster when clearly the CBC has outlived any usefulness it once had.

  8. “Access Act: Sweeping overhaul needed.” Windsor Star. Dec. 6, 2004. p. A6

    In the case of the CBC, some top bosses at the state broadcaster argue it should remain exempt because reporters’ notes might be requested. But the current act already makes exceptions to protect privacy, national security and financial secrets; a revised act could simply make the same exception for journalistic material.

    Besides, things like Peter Mansbridge’s notes aren’t the issue. Mansbridge’s salary is. Canadians deserve a full accounting of what he’s paid and how the CBC spends the $1 billion taxpayers shell out annually to keep it going. Every Crown Corporation must be subject to the Access to Information Act.

  9. “CBC and scrutiny.” Windsor Star. May 1, 2004. p. A8

    The CBC, it seems, would like to have it both ways. The state broadcaster wants to keep inhaling taxpayers’ cash, but it doesn’t want to be accountable for the manner in which it uses our money.... However, if the state broadcaster doesn’t want its employees treated like public servants, or for the corporation to be fully accountable for the way it spends close to $1 billion of taxpayers’ money, then it should be privatized. Otherwise, the CBC should fall under the umbrella of whisteblower and Access to Information laws. That way the state broadcaster will exposed to as much public scrutiny as possible for the way it operates and the agendas it pursues.

  10. “CBC’s board should be restructured.” Tony Manera. Windsor Star. Feb. 28, 2006. p. A8

    I would also like to propose some changes in legislation that would further enhance the board’s role and better protect the CBC’s status as a “public” rather than a “state” broadcaster. [...]

    I recommend a further, somewhat radical change to the composition of the CBC board of directors: Add two CBC employees as directors, one elected by employees from the English-language services, and one elected by employees from the French-language services.

    It’s a win-win proposal that would enhance the value that an already strong board of directors brings to the CBC, and would ultimately be of benefit to CBC audiences.

And the winner is…!

Colby Cosh (no relation).

“Blowing the whistle on the CBC’s credibility.” National Post. Apr 30, 2004. p. A18

In recent years the CBC has spent millions rebranding itself and trying to make us forget that it is, in fact, a state broadcaster. But the fact remains in the world, placidly resistant to the spin. CBC employees are government employees. Collectively, their livelihoods depend on the willingness of the present government to continue propagandizing and entertaining the citizenry at the citizenry’s own expense. There are people that the CBC does not want elected, assuming it possesses the same self-interest as any other tribe of primates, and others that it does want elected. It sometimes appears to decide on what we see and hear according to that hypothetical self-interest, and according to a self-reinforcing, clubby political ideology. To deny any of this is to engage in damnable lying.