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Dear CBC

March 16, 2021

What’s up, CBC? Have you put someone in charge of drama programming who has no idea how cable packages work? If so, although it’s a bit late now, let me explain. The basic cable package for pretty much every Canadian includes NBC, ABC, CBS and PBS.

Yes, PBS, home of Masterpiece Theater. Which is where I watched the Dominic West version of Les Miserables last year or perhaps even the year before. Imagine my surprise when you, CBC, began promoting this same show as a “major six-part television event”. Huh? Did it not occur to you that every Canadian who might be interested had already watched this – without commercials – on PBS?

And now you are heavily promoting another major event: Victoria. The first series of Victoria was broadcast on PBS at least three, possibly four years ago. The same PBS where interested viewers have already seen all three series.

Late last spring, John Doyle, the television critic for the Globe and Mail, complained that the CBC was showing a lack of imagination by filling airtime left vacant by the pandemic shutdown of productions with British mysteries. I begged to differ with him. John Malkovich as Hercule Poirot? Bill Nighy in another Agatha Christie? The dramatization of The Murders at White House Farm? Excellent! Bring it on! Considerably better than your last big piece of genius – a Canadian version of Family Feud. Really, CBC? That’s the best you can come up with? (What exactly is the formula over there? For every Nature of Things or Schitt’s Creek there must be an equal or greater number of pieces of shit?)

Whilst heavily pushing the already-seen-by-most Victoria, you’re also running ads for all the looks-quite-interesting shows available only on your streaming service Gem. What the fuck, CBC?

Just last weekend that same John Doyle waxed lyrical about a gem of a German show called Bad Banks. I’d love to watch this show, but it’s only available on Gem.

Believe it or not, there are a lot of people (myself included) who do not like watching TV shows on their laptop or tablet. They like to watch them on, you know, their TV. What about us, eh?   

Why the hell are you running Victoria (and, apparently, the literally just-finished-on-PBS Miss Scarlett and the Duke) when you’re sitting on great shows Canadian viewers haven’t already seen?

Whenever the Conservatives start (as they do whenever they’re in power) banging on about defunding you, Canada’s public broadcaster, I have always taken umbrage. Now I’m ever so slightly beginning to wonder.

Do a survey or something. I think you’ll find it’s old farts, people like me who like to watch things on their actual television, who most support providing you with government funding.

Stop giving us the finger. And start giving us some programming we haven’t already seen on PBS.


A disgruntled viewer

PS Thanks for Belgravia, which miraculously is not just available on Gem.

PPS Oh, and before you start, yes I know I could buy some sort of gizmo that would allow me to watch Gem (and, if I was prepared to pay for it, Amazon Prime and a host of other streaming services) on my actual television. The point is, I shouldn’t have to do so. You should make the best of what you have to offer available to everyone.

From → Columns

One Comment
  1. Donna permalink

    Hear, hear.

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