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Letter: CBC is losing relevance

'I really wish the CBC had taken a different path years ago, and was actually an unbiased, trustworthy source for news.'
The CBC logo.

Andrew Mitchell’s opinion piece recently titled “CBC or bust” (Pique, Feb. 24) was quite timely and interesting to read. It highlights for me the unfortunate political and social divide we see in Canada today. We seem to be living in a highly charged and polarized reality that finds us rapidly running out of things to agree upon and institutions to trust.

Trust in the state, media, police and church is at an all-time low with no signs of improving. The way things are going I don’t think we can rely on any new politicians to magically fix things for us, nor can we continue to support failed old politicians. It’s going to be up to regular, everyday Canadians to make the necessary changes in attitudes and build the bridges needed. Together we stand, divided we fall. 

Mr. Mitchell made a good point that people on the extremes of the political spectrum tend to see the middle ground as a long way away, and thus anything on either side of the middle easily becomes “far-right” or the less commonly expressed “far-left.”

I would suggest that Canada’s mainstream media focus on the threats of the far-right lately could be seen as evidence they are biased towards the left and not right as claimed by Mr. Mitchell. Perhaps we can agree to disagree on that point.

Regardless of our individual political biases affecting how we view the media in general, or in this case the CBC, perhaps we should all put aside the politics and look at the cold hard facts, data and trends.

Mr. Mitchell wrote, “though the CBC is arguably priceless, I’ll admit that it isn’t free. A billion dollars a year sounds like a lot, but for all the arts, culture, education, music, sports, news and other Canada-centric programming it provides, It’s an incredible investment with huge returns for all of us.”

The CBC received $1.2 billion in federal funds last year, and despite that increase of funding, they only managed to capture less then four per cent* of the market of people that still watch TV. Even worse, less than one per cent of the people that still watch their news on TV watched The National.

I fail to see how this could be construed as a huge return for “most of us” or a win for the CBC! It would appear that most of us are not consuming the CBC product anymore, despite most of us paying for it.

Mr. Mitchell’s confessed unwavering, diehard support for the CBC apparently does not allow him to realize that he is part of a very small minority of Canadians. If a self-described objective journalist turned opinion writer can be so easily blinded by personal bias, what chance do the rest of us have?

I really wish the CBC had taken a different path years ago, and was actually an unbiased, trustworthy source for news, as Mr. Mitchell believes. It could have been a beacon of reason and quality journalism and leveraged its public funding to achieve worldwide success in today’s dismal legacy media landscape.

I, like Mr. Mitchell, was a big fan of the CBC from my earliest memories, and truly miss what CBC Radio used to be! I grew up in Whistler watching Hockey Night in Canada on rabbit ears with so much “snow” on the black-and-white TV that we could not see the puck and had to combine the basic movement of the players with the colour commentators to make sense of the play! Shout-out to the late Walter Zebrowski for his hard work and dedication to local television broadcasting from high up on Sproatt Mountain in the ’70s!

Charley Raine // Whistler

[*Editor’s note: In its most recent annual report, CBC Television listed a prime-time market share of 5.8 per cent in 2021-22, up from 5 per cent the year prior. CBC News Network’s all-day audience share was listed as 2.1 per cent.]