CBC’s sad decline

So President Donald J. Trump has complained that CBC deleted his cameo appearance in the movie Home Alone 2: Lost in New York when it recently aired. He should be happy. Not appearing on CBC may actually be a good thing given the state of disrepair into which CBC has fallen. Despite receiving more than $1 billion a year in government funding (plus ad revenue) CBC cannot seem to mount much of anything on television that is both successful and good.

Take their latest offering that launched this month: Canadian Family Feud. Notice the careful use of the designation “Canadian” as if this show could be aired anywhere else. Tonight’s families, from Orillia, Ontario, and St. Bruno, Quebec, were unlikely to appear on the U.S version or in Australia, or any of the half dozen countries with Family Feud offerings. Interestingly, however, in none of those other countries does Family Feud appear on a public broadcasting network. If you never before heard of host Gerry Dee, apparently he finished third on the fifth season of Last Comic Standing.

Feud is not CBC’s only failing. News, once a CBC mainstay, is sinking from sight. Even with what must be a record-breaking four hosts on The National, CTV National News continues to draw a larger audience, just as it has for many years. At CBC they used to explain this away by saying, “Ah yes, but we always have a bigger audience on election night.” Perhaps in the past, but not for this most recent federal election, when CTV was the hands-down winner. Far fewer people were hanging onto every one of Rosemary Barton’s smart aleck remarks than she thought.

Maybe I’m just a grump, but I’ve never been able to understand the success of Schitt’s Creek. Stars Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara just seem world weary. Maybe that’s why the show’s sixth season, beginning next month, will be the last. Finally, CBC made the right call. I can only hope that some government, some day, ends funding for CBC-TV but continues supporting CBC Radio where the mandate – to inform, enlighten and entertain – is carried out with excellence and elan.


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