Sunday, November 26, 2006

THE CBC: THE CHANNEL NO ONE WATCHES

Here's yet another Bill Brioux rant in the Sun about the woeful CBC ratings. I gotta say, you would think that the numbers would be better now that these shows have been on a few weeks. But the numbers are worse than ever. To wit:

October 1970: 56,000 viewers.
Rumours: 94,000.
The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos: 82,000.
Intelligence: 247,000.
And the biggest hit (?) (!) (?) of the new CBC season: Dragon's Den, with only 381,000 people watching the season finale.

Now, Dragon's Den has been renewed on the basis of some pretty decent numbers earlier in the season, they actually cracked half a million. But this is the only show on the network even close to doing well, and it's all because Dragon's Den is a populist type of show. People can relate to all these Canadian entrepreneurs, looking for money from these venture capitalists and getting shot down by these uptights. It's interesting television. Whether it is good business remains to be seen, these idiot Dragons can occasionally get it wrong.

But the rest of these shows are getting killed by all the American programming run on CTV and over on Global. Global's having a really good season, running big hits House and Prison Break. And CTV is CTV, they own the country practically. But I don't think those guys are really going to be on a roll until January; that's when American Idol comes back to kill everyone. So they aren't even warmed up yet over there at CTV.

About the only good news for the CBC is that there are still a lot of sports fans in this country. Hockey Night in Canada is still a top-20 show, particular the first game of the doubleheader when Coach's Corner airs with Don Cherry and Ron MacLean. The CFL playoff games in the past weeks also had strong ratings in the top 20. I noticed the CBC were promoting Intelligence and Dragon's Den like crazy during those football telecasts. Didn't help them get any more viewers, but they tried, at least.

Now you have the Canadian Heritage department starting the "what to do about the CBC" talks, and of course guess what the politicians are aiming at. They are aiming their knives at the populist programming, the hockey and the football. And the reality shows; they don't want the CBC to do those, either. Of course, there are still plenty of people who want to get rid of the ads, too. Well guess what, you might as well get rid of the ads because no advertiser in its right mind is going to want to put commercials on the CBC with ratings numbers like this.

Rumors are flying about heads rolling, with people aiming at Richard Stursberg and others at the top. There was something in the Toronto Star claiming Stursberg's days were numbered. But there have been stories like this circulating for months. All I will say is if people are going to be replaced, get on with it already and get it over with. The CBC doesn't need uncertainty at the top. They need people leading it who have a mandate to clean up the mess at the CBC.

Unfortunately, replacing the current leadership with people who have a mandate to get rid of the only hit shows the CBC has, like the sports and reality shows, isn't the way to go. I fear, though, that this is what the CBC viewers are in for--- the few remaining, that is.

I've already made my rant about what the CBC needs to do about their programming, I don't need to repeat it again. In the short term, though, what the folks in charge need to do is get rid of these shows that have viewerships that roughly equal the populations of Lethbridge and Medicine Hat.

Put on there something that will get an audience, fast, even if it's repeats of stuff. Even movies will do better than the current lineup. And enough of George Stroumboulopoulos- what is this now, two flop CBC shows in a row? He may be a good guy, but he's had it.

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