The CBC has no business chasing ad dollars with low-brow game shows


Making a shameless play for ad dollars is part of president Catherine Tait’s goal of making the CBC less vulnerable to the whims of federal politicians, some of whom don’t believe Canada even needs a public broadcaster. But by adapting for Canadian eyes a low-brow game show that isn’t remotely relevant to the CBC’s mandate, Ms. Tait may only prove them right.

As Ms. Tait told advertising industry executives in Toronto last week, the CBC is making “a renewed commitment to growing commercial revenue” in order to become “masters of our own destiny.” She was even more explicit in a speech last month to a Montreal business audience, saying: “We want to keep our diversified funding revenue model because we don’t want to be vulnerable to shifts in the marketplace and government.”

There are several problems with Ms. Tait’s strategy, not the least of which is that it flies in the face of the CBC’s aspirational goal of going ad-free. It is now clear that Ms. Tait, who succeeded Hubert Lacroix last year, never believed in that goal, despite paying lip service to it.

Family Feud Canada is set to occupy the prime 7:30 p.m. time slot on four weekday evenings this fall. The public broadcaster says it plans to leverage the game show’s popularity to promote other CBC shows. But what is the likelihood that viewers who tune in to a silly game show – it’s not Jeopardy, after all – will stick around for The Nature of ThingsThe National or Marketplace, shows that embody the CBC’s mandate rather than making a mockery of it?



  1. Well I see nothing particularly wrong with the CBC featuring some light entertainment programming. And right now, how many game shows does CTV, Global, City, Rogers or Corus produce?…zero.

    The writer is presumptuous to say that the CBC has no business producing a low brow game show. Says who? Why does the CBC always need to be highbrow and not compete for ratings?

    Many want the CBC to be more like the BBC. Well here are just a few of the BBC reality shows shown over the years, and some are still on the schedule-

    Arrange Me a Marriage
    Snog, Marry or Avoid?
    Sexy Beasts
    Bizarre ER
    The Apprentice
    The Voice
    Brat Camp

    All of these programs were “lowbrow” produced by and shown on BBC. BBC 1 and 2 don’t have commercials but some of their international and specialty channels do. Can you imagine the howling from those that hate the CBC or the elites who want nothing but highbrow programming if the corp ever produced shows like the above? BBC knows how to balance mass appeal with high end, CBC needs to do the same.

    I would love the CBC to have a late night talk show with a live audience and band. Light entertainment again, that could feature visiting celebrities, up and coming artists and a host that is entertaining and funny. The privates aren’t doing it, so the CBC should.

    I hope the CBC becomes more aggressive for the commercial dollar to sharpen up CTV, Global and City who in my opinion are getting rather lazy and aren’t really stepping up with good quality entertaining programs of their own. They spend a fortune on import shows but seem to cheap out on much of their home grown programming, often placing these “cancon” shows in low viewer time slots, such as Saturday afternoon or evening, and in the case of City even all nights.

    Catherine Tait came to the CBC with much experience in both private and public broadcasting. Maybe she will rattle some cages and give Canada’s tired and at often uninspired broadcasting industry a much needed shot in the arm. This would benefit the private broadcasters as much as the CBC.

  2. Although I want to, I cannot really argue against Alex’ points, except my faith in Tait is at par with my faith in Suzuki really believing the B.S. and Kool-Aide he is peddling.

    Better that the CBC be low-brow entertainment than the Indoctrination Platform that it is now.

  3. So if I get the gist of this conversation? We run a tax payer funded business and we need to be more competitive with the private sector by providing low brow entertainment. We do that now. The other option would be to pull the plug on the CBC or do the Gordo. Lease the CBC to Shaw for 999 years for one dollar.
    If we allow CBC to compete why cant we allow ICBC to compete


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