While the official CBC blog is busy demonstrating its own futility by linking to stories about Canwest’s imminent demise, let’s take a moment to imagine how Canwest’s demise might be averted.
Start with a tidbit from Peter “Fisherman’s Cap” Newman’s biography of Izzy (partly funded by the Asper Foundation):
Izzy stopped in on his way to Australia and asked executives and heads of department to describe their jobs. “Each dutifully responded,” he later recalled, “that their job was to create great dramas for posterity, or, in other cases, they extolled the virtue of shooting programming using six or seven cameras, when three would do.... I decided that this group needed a cold shower....
“You’ve all described what you think your jobs are, but none of you have put your finger on what this is all about.... That’s why you’re in bankruptcy. I’ll tell you what your job is: it’s to sell soap; it’s to sell pantyhose; it’s to sell cars. And the way that you do that is to put on programming that everybody wants to watch and that our advertisers will pay to be part of, in order to sell their soap, pantyhose, and cars and give us the money to provide the wonderful programs that will attract the audiences!”
Seemed like quite the plan – till the Aspers decided to pull a Lantos and buy the Alliance speciality channels through a shell game of U.S. financiers that would somehow assure “Canadian” control. Then the ad market tanked. (Even on high-rated shows like Top Chef, I see up to five PSAs for Hinterland Who’s Who.) Now Canwest is pretty much doomed.
But do you think Stephen Harper is ever going to let the National Post go tits-up? He’ll think of something, and that something might be a bailout. He couldn’t get away with bailing out only the corner of the Asper empire that shares his appetite for rending Liberal flesh from the bone. So the whole company would get some kind of taxpayer deal. (They got pretty much the same thing once before – consider that “human rights” museum.) Even if it were just tax credits or forgone repayments of some kind, a public subsidy is a public subsidy.
We would then be faced with Romulus/Remus lies about Canadian broadcasting: That the private sector does a great job getting by on advertising revenues and that the CBC is the only federally subsidized broadcaster.
Imagine the apoplexy of right-wing assholes if forced to acknowledge that Global, Showcase Diva, and that paragon of licence compliance, History Television, are suddenly “state broadcasters.” Watching them squirm would almost be worth it, would it not? Except for the fact that every penny spent propping up the failing Privates would be a penny starved from the CBC. It would show that the government of the day really can properly fund the CBC even in a “tough economic climate,” and, by extension, in all other climates.