I’m in the midst of having conversations with sons and daughters of famous people to discuss being raised from childhood in somewhat rarefied environments. This is for my 9th book, “Icons. Growing Up In The Shadow Of Greatness”.
As I prepared to chat with Ted Barris, son of the late Canadian media superstar Alex Barris, I re-read two of Alex’s books: “The Pierce-Arrow Showroom Is Leaking: An Insider's View of the C.B.C.” and “Front Page Challenge: History of a Television Legend”. Both refer to Alex’s time spent with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in writing and on-air hosting.
In 1969, Alex wrote, “What the CBC desperately needs now is a transfusion – a transfusion of confidence from the Canadian people and the Canadian government.”
Yes, those words hail from more than 50 years ago, but they ring true today in 2022. I, for one, believe the CBC is crucially important in sustaining our Canadian identify. It is key when you realize we live next to such a huge, dominant enterprise as the U.S.A. If we believe being Canadian is important – and I sure do – a vibrant CBC is there to remind us of who we are, where we came from and where we’re going.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (the body that reviews, approves and renews the CBC) states, “Along with the need to adapt to Canada’s evolving socio-demographic realities, the emergence of online delivery of content has resulted in new domestic and foreign online competitors within the Canadian broadcasting ecosystem, dramatically changing the way Canadians consume audio and audiovisual content and reshaping traditional business models for acquiring and monetizing programming content. Furthermore, the current COVID-19 pandemic has only served to accelerate these trends and increase the need for broadcasters to quickly adapt to these realities in order to remain relevant.”
As I’ve stated here previously, the CBC does need to change (including trimming its’ sails). But if it can re-design itself for efficiency over the next few years, it will be to the benefit of Canadians that we reflect ourselves – not an American version of ourselves, to each other and to the world.