While researching something unrelated, I came across reports of the CBC cutbacks announced earlier this month. I have a short, but pretty intense kneejerk reaction when I hear about my old workplace. I instantly see faces and hear voices I hadn’t thought of, remember old fears and grievances, breathe a sigh of relief knowing I’ve moved on, and wonder idly what it must be like working there now. I left in 2001, a few cutbacks ago. I think my former job, associate director, still exists but each time I hear of cuts I wonder if it’s been outsourced. Once or twice, when learning how to use facebook, I would look up former colleagues and some of them still seem to be there. But some have definitely moved on. Adrienne Clarkson, for example, for whom I worked about five years before she left to become governor general, still seems to be travelling, meeting people, engaging in interesting discussions and supporting her causes as much as she ever did. But the CBC seems to be struggling still for enough support, enough funding and enough audiences.
I still believe in a national broadcaster that should be as neutral as possible, reach as many citizens as possible, and strive to help us all understand each other better. But even I no longer listen to CBC radio, though Nick still does when in the car. I haven’t watched television in years. I’ll scan headlines on cbc.ca occasionally and if I ever want background on a breaking story, it’s the CBC website I’ll turn to first, more often than not. But dear to me as the memories and hopes I have of it are, I no longer find CBC relevant to me. I find more of the music I want to listen to elsewhere on the net. Recently, though, I discovered CBC’s French equivalent Radio-Canada’s espace musique and find myself enjoying their streaming stations. I hope the English language counterpart is paying attention.
When I noticed CBC cutting off most of their sports programming, I heaved a huge, conflicted sigh. I remember the elitism around Sports, second only to the News department. Struggling in the Arts department, where I was, I remember my colleagues and I feeling like poor second cousins. It seemed to us that money could always be found for them and not for us, no matter how important we felt our programs were. Now I imagine the shock of those once so sheltered, and feel badly for the challenge they are going through. And I wonder if that might be a good thing in the end, as the CBC once more re-invents itself. I wonder what CBC will look like from the inside, and from the outside, as it adjusts yet again to more belt tightening while figuring out how to attract viewers and listeners in this media-savvy world.
I hope they succeed.