Groucho Marx said of television, “It’s very educational. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”
Ninety-five per cent of today’s hundreds of platforms provide content focused on selling us stuff, demonstrating the point Groucho was making — it’s mostly eye-candy interrupted by commercials.
The NHL-Rogers 12-year hockey rights deal threw a hand-grenade at CBC-TV, with a time-delay fuse.
CBC-TV’s sports property and crown jewel, is gone.
In Oct. 2014, HNIC will be editorially-controlled by the folks at Rogers. Rogers will decide what games will be carried on the CBC-TV network, under their control. All related revenue (a very large chunk of CBC-TV’s annual revenue) is retained by Rogers.
HNIC will continue on CBC-TV for four years. Rogers will not charge CBC a rights fee. Rogers will, in effect, be feeding HNIC (their show) to the full CBC-TV network and all of their other platforms on Saturday night.
This could be considered by the CBC as a devastating and potentially lethal blow, especially when the hand grenade explodes at the end of the four year shot-gun marriage between Rogers and CBC-TV orchestrated by Gary Bettman.
This bombshell is a wake-up call, a golden opportunity for the CBC to use the four years to change the direction CBC-TV has been going for the past decade or more.
The time for redemption is at hand, providing those in power (politicians and CBC board members) have the courage, tenacity and leadership to slowly turn the direction of the aircraft carrier into a non-commercial, content relevant, public broadcaster.
If the next four years are not dedicated to this challenge, CBC-TV will disappear.
Taxpayers now pay $34 per year to support the public broadcaster. An extra $20 per-year per-capita will provide the sustenance to achieve the goal. It’s that important to the maintenance of our democracy.
(Mr. Devion is a former Head of CBC Sports, former Director of TV for CBC British Columbia, and former Head of the CBC Host Broadcaster for the 1994 Victoria Commonwealth Games.)