Comment 81579

By Mal (anonymous) | Posted October 13, 2012 at 12:32:16

Snippets from Queen Ceeb, a profile of CBC Executive VP for English Programming Kirstine Stewart, which appeared in the May 2012 edition of Toronto Life:

“[Stewart] had come to the Corporation from the skin-deep world of lifestyle programming. Six years later, there are still doubts about whether she should be running the country’s foremost cultural institution at all..... Stewart calls the CBC a beacon of newsgathering in the country. “We were the first Canadians on the ground in Syria,” she says proudly. That may be true, but The National remains third in the ratings behind both CTV’s and Global’s nightly newscasts. She has been so preoccupied with TV entertainment that she’s largely left the CBC’s news division alone. Improvements have been slow to come, and plans for expanded service in Kitchener, Waterloo and London will likely be shelved if the network’s budget is slashed.... A constant complaint inside the CBC is that the broadcaster is chronically underfunded, and that underfunding is the source of all its woes. “Given the small size of its federal funding,” one TV writer said to me in an email, “ the CBC can be a real shit-show, an extravaganza of douchebaggery, a Rube Goldberg machine meets an Escher drawing. It’s a world so rife with back-biting and siege mentality, it’s become difficult to accomplish anything.” People might want the quality of the BBC but forget that the CBC’s per capita budget is a quarter of the BBC’s.... Unlike her predecessor, Stewart insists her ambitions for the network are not exclusively tied to ratings. “He cleaned things up,” she says [of Richard Stursberg], and made this a more business-like place, made sure there was a clearer definition of what success meant.” From this stronger position, she believes, the CBC can now evolve to be more adventurous and risky; shows don’t need to bring in big numbers to ensure they stay on the air.... While a public broadcaster should be airing provocative programs that the commercial networks won’t bankroll, provocation is often in the eye of the beholder. There’s nostalgia, too, for a pure, high-toned CBC that might never have existed…”

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