Critics of this show like to say that I’m full of it on the CBC. They deny that the state broadcaster is left wing, that it has it’s own biases.
You know the truth and I know the truth. Well now thanks to a new book they can no longer deny the truth.
Richard Stursberg’s tell all insider tale of life at CBC was released on Saturday. CBC lovers are not big fans of Richard Stursberg, not the ones that love CBC as it existed for years – a “shoddy papier-mâché invention run by preeningly smug brainiacs” as Peter C Newman put it in his review. Newman by the way even used the term “state broadcaster.”
As I said in my newspaper column last week this book is a must read whether you love CBC or hate it.
Part of why I love the book is that someone who spent years on the inside, who still loves CBC and wants to see it grow – confirms much of what I have been saying for years. Namely, CBC is biased: it is left-wing.
“The CBC’s legendary inability to meet the most elementary test of good management, and its soft left, anti-business, Toronto-centric, politically correct cultural assumptions created significant problems for the corporation.”
Part of the problem CBC’s internal culture creates is that they dislike success. Not only do they not want to make programs that Canadians want to watch, much of their news coverage, including shows like Fifth Estate, detests success in others and they attack it.
But that’s not the subject of Strurberg’s book.
This book is about detailing his struggles to bring about change in the state broadcaster, to get them to care about producing shows audiences would want to watch.
Remarkably, this was an uphill battle. The culture at CBC was, and likely still is, such that the staff believes that producing good quality shows and producing shows that large audiences will watch are mutually exclusive endeavours.
Despite all this, despite knowing the culture, Richard Stursberg tried and in many ways succeed at turning around the state broadcaster’s dwindling audiences.
When he arrived ratings were at a 30 year low and CBC’s National, the flagship newscast was in third place in a three horse race. He boosted ratings across the board – average minute audiences went up by 52% for CBC between 2004 and 2010. New shows were a hit, old shows were revitalized.
Stursberg had high ratings and a favourable review from management.
So the organization that hates success fired him. In fact, he was fired by a man well known to this audience, Hubert Lacroix.
I may have a different view of the state broadcaster than Richard Stursberg but I must salute his success and his drive. We don’t agree on where the CBC should go but we both agree that if there is to be a CBC it should serve a broad swath of Canada and not as he puts it in the book – “the chatterati, the cultural elites.”
And that’s the Byline.
Buy the book here….