Paul LeBlanc, President
Suite 200 – 625 West Kent Ave. Vancouver BC V6P 6T7
Office: (604) 327-3278 x 23
photo credit: Roland
I sell advertising for a living. I have nothing at all against advertising.
I run a sign company. And while we do make some signs to direct and inform people about various things, about 90% of what we make is advertising of some form.
So I am a big believer in advertising, and do lots of it myself.
Nonetheless, my favourite radio station carries none at all. There is a rumour in the land that this might change, and despite my belief in the value and power of advertising, that news makes me very unhappy.
First the story. Hubert Lacroix, Prime Minister Harper’s appointment as president of the CBC, was speaking to the Empire Club in Toronto last month. During his speech, he mentioned that “increasing the advertising we accept on the air” was one way they might consider to address their funding problem.
My second favourite radio station carries many, many ads. CKNW, the longstanding and very successful bastion of west coast talk radio, carries so many ads that sometimes it’s a real effort to find the content. And while that content sometimes seems to consist of nothing but phoned in rants to put every jaywalker in jail for 20 years, it’s still a great snapshot of what a good chunk of the citizenry is thinking. Their coverage of provincial politics is often pretty good, and yes, it probably is the radio station I would turn to in an emergency, at least if it was a local one.
But I know that CKNW needs to sell ads to stay on the air. It has a giant corporate parent, Corus Entertainment in Toronto, which is publically traded on both the TSX and NYSE. So the message CKNW beams out over the airwaves will never rock the corporate boat too far. More to the point, CKNW, or any commercial enterprise, will not run programming unlikely to draw the large numbers of listeners advertisers want.
So I want a non-commercial option. I want the radio station that gave me Gwynne Dyer talking convincingly about how a south Asian war might be caused by climate change. I want the radio station that called Romeo Dallaire night after night in Rwanda during the genocide of 1994. And I want the radio station that spent five days in a row debating the relative merits of a bunch of Canadian novels.
Even if fewer people listen to these programs than listen to the CKNWs of this country (and that’s not always true) those ideas need to get out. They need to be heard and the country as a whole benefits from them being told. That’s why our scarce tax dollars should continue to be invested in CBC Radio and why CBC Radio can never be allowed to turn into CKNW.
I have started a small Facebook Group to see who agrees with me on this. If you do, please drop in and join up.
Readers, I bet you have opinions. Chime in! Should CBC resort to advertising, or will that completely and irrevocably change the nature of the CBC?