OK, I realize that I’m becoming a bit of a broken record, and I promise that these postings about the CBC are reaching an end. After all, each of us have to ‘get a life’.
Nevertheless, I couldn’t resist posting this, because it shows just how the blather the CBC spouts about multiculturalism and other BS is being used so that these people can get their way, a commercial-style radio network with next to no challenging or intellectual content.
Here’s the background: In addition to my letter to the CBC, I left a submission at the ‘Contact Us’ form on the CBC Web site, and here’s what I got in today’s email :
Dear David Drucker,
Thank you for your email about upcoming changes to the weekday schedule of CBC Radio 2. We’re enthusiastic about the changes being planned. It’s good news for all Canadian performers and all Canadian listeners. However, we know some people have misconceptions of why we are making these changes and how the new schedule will look.
The question facing CBC is whether we use Radio 2 to reflect excellence in all Canadian music and musicians or just a part of the industry; and whether we serve a broad spectrum of Canadian listeners or just of a portion of the audience.
Allow us to provide you with a little background to the proposals.
First, we recognize the quality and public value of “serious” music. Classical music will remain the most broadly represented form on Radio 2 while we expand the spectrum to include other forms of music for adult Canadian listeners.
Next, it may interest you to know that Canadian performers of all stripes release about 30,000 pieces of music every year. Less than 1 per cent of those receive regular airplay on commercial radio stations. The rich diversity of Canadian music and musicians is clearly not being heard on Canadian airwaves. Music genres for which Canada is famous throughout the world currently have little exposure on CBC Radio’s music network.
Since CBC’s mandate charges us to “reflect Canada and its regions to national and regional audiences, (and) actively contribute to the flow and exchange of cultural expression” as well as “reflect the multicultural and multiracial nature of Canada” the public broadcaster’s adult music network must be a home for these artists and this music.
Finally, we also believe there will still be some listeners who desire nothing but classical, or jazz, or adult singer-songwriters. So, this fall, CBC Radio will be launching three 24-hour-a-day web radio services to serve each niche exclusively. Obviously we would rather have a full FM network for each genre, but since that is not possible, the online solution is another option for Canadians.
Radio 2 is now and will be remain a music network for adult Canadians. Our values of thoughtfulness in presentation and excellence in performance remain intact. Our commitment to offer an alternative on the dial continues. The kind of listening experience will not change; the music highlights will just come from a broader spectrum.
We’re passionate about Canadian music. Radio 2 will be the only place to truly reflect the incredible breadth and depth of talent that exists in this country.
Again, thank you for writing. We look forward to your feedback when the new shows are introduced in the fall.
CBC Audience Relations
I’m getting the standard party line I’ve seen in other media: Classical doesn’t represent true Canada; We’re not cutting out Classical music (or now an even better subtle insult: ‘Serious’ music; gee, why don’t they call it ‘Long-hair music’ or ‘Egghead music’); we’re just making sure that everyone is represented, so Classical Music has to go to make room for the other Canadian artists. That bit about ’30,000 pieces of music’ is, I suspect, plucked from thin air.
Never mind that the mythical ‘audience’ they are talking about (instead of ‘portion of that audience’) doesn’t exist. The people who listen to Radio 2 by definition listen to Classical Music because if the CBC didn’t broadcast that, they wouldn’t listen to Radio 2. The alternative to Radio 2 is, let me see…Oh right: nothing.
Never mind that Canadian composers and Canadian Classical Music are going to continue to be phased out of the airwaves. The biggest bald-faced lie in the email is this one: Classical music will remain the most broadly represented form on Radio 2 …
Sorry, popular light classics from the hours of 10AM through 3PM, when no one but home-bound seniors will hear them is not ‘most broadly represented’.
To understand just how much the opposite of ‘most broadly represented’ is, here are some facts not mentioned in the letter:
The CBC Young Composers Competition has not been held since March 9, 2003. It, as well as the CBC Young Performers Competition have been suspended for the past four years. The Canada Council provided the funding for the $10,000.00 grand prize.
The CBC set the classical music budget for CBC Records to 0 in February 2008, precisely on the eve of their first Grammy win by Canadian violinist James Ehnes and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra under Bramwell Tovey on the CBC Records label. That’s right; the first Grammy win, and these guys get rid of the recording label. Many Classical Music performers launched their careers on a CBC Records label recording.
The commissioning budget previously devoted to commissioning new works from composers is now spread out to cover jazz, pop musicians, and some unspecified amount of contemporary classical music.
CBC cancelled Two New Hours, a multiple-award winning program that was aired for two hours a week in the incredibly prime time slot of Sundays 10pm to midnight. This program was dedicated to the music of living Canadian composers. It was cancelled in March 2007 in its 29th year.
CBC cancelled Music For A While, which aired classical music daily from 6pm to 8pm.
CBC cancelled In Performance the flagship Classical concerts program.
The CBC disbanded the CBC Radio Orchestra: North America’s 70-year old last remaining radio orchestra and platform for countless premieres of new Canadian compositions citing lack of resources. The next day, they ran a full-page ad in the Globe and Mail costing an estimated $30,000 to convince us of the same party line that I was read in the letter. It’s worth noting that there was not a single classical music (composer or performer) listed in the ad. Instead, the representation was primarily from commercial recording labels and others involved in popular music.
That bit about a ‘web’ station is utterly ridiculous as well. Will I be able to listen to the web station in the car or on the Skytrain? Will I have to rig up a computer in the bedroom so I can wake up to it in the morning? Will kids in school who have never been exposed to Classical Music discover their Internet-based station? Maybe in 5–10 years we’ll have pervasive Internet connectivity so that streaming audio is available at all times, including while traveling at decent quality, and is next to free for all, but not today. Like magazines that stop printing paper editions and only publish on the web, putting most of the CBC’s Classical Music solely on the Internet is pretty much getting rid of it from mainstream listeners.
It’s sickening to be read a party line that is disingenuous at best. That bit about multiculturalism is a smoke-screen. Do you think they are going to be playing a lot of Pakistani and Chinese music? ( And isn’t ironic that so many Chinese are huge fans of Classical music and are building concert halls like mad in China while the CBC takes it away from listeners in Richmond?).
If the CBC says that people like me ‘just don’t get it’, that ‘The kind of listening experience will not change; the music highlights will just come from a broader spectrum’ and should simply listen to web radio, what they really mean is that they are simply interested in making more money — just like they do on TV by airing ‘Hockey Night in Canada’ — by pretending to be ‘multicultural’, and then running a commercial Easy Listening station. The pattern they’ve followed from the last 3 years plainly shows it.