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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Turf ... or transform ... the CBC?

I would opt for the latter. There is a lot of talent and technical skill, not to mention infrastructure tax dollars, invested in the CBC. Why throw out the baby with the bathwater?

What I'd like to see get thrown out is those responsible for the kind of blatant propaganda that results in headlines like this one in Regina's Leader Post: Movie tarnished our grandfather's name. Pretty damning. Here are a few snippets:

The CBC is proud of its Tommy Douglas miniseries. But in Saskatchewan, there has been a firestorm over Prairie Giant: The Tommy Douglas Story. Newspapers, radio talk shows, Internet blogs, and the Saskatchewan legislature have commented on the fallacies and mythology which formed the story line for the CBC/Minds Eye Productions mini-series.

The CBC and Minds Eye, as producers, initially claimed that the film was well-researched. As the inaccuracies were identified and the furor in Saskatchewan grew, Minds Eye's defence became that, in a docudrama, they have creative licence to do what they wish. ...

The CBC and the Saskatchewan government have an obligation to ensure that history is faithfully, if not accurately recorded. They have failed to meet this threshold of responsibility...

Further, given that Saskatchewan journalists, talk-show hosts and letters to the editor describe major problems with the film, how can the CBC deny the problems with the film?
Perhaps Saskatchewanians are not part of the CBC's Canada.

Provincial Learning Minister Deb Higgins, has stated on the radio that the film will not be used in Saskatchewan schools due to its historical inaccuracies. ... A senior CBC executive says in a letter "that CBC . . . never intended for the film to be an educational tool for use in the school curriculum . . . and there are no plans to do so now". However, the CBC's Web page explicitly refers to educational sales.

Moreover, the CBC's educational sales office recently indicated that there were hundreds of educational sales orders, and that film is being recommended for Grades 7 and up. Soon thousands of Canadian schoolchildren will be shown this film, and erroneously believe it to be history.

... This film would not pass the ethics requirements of any university; the liberties taken would not be supported by the need to be creative when producing a drama. The excuse Minds Eye and the CBC have given, on artistic grounds, is very weak. ...

The film makes a mockery of Canadian history ...

Maybe, buried somewhere in that article, there's a clue for the CBC brass as to why this is happening:

Canadian Heritage Minister Bev Oda is preparing for a major review of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's mandate including domestic public radio, which is struggling to maintain audience ...

Apparently Oda has broadcasting experience. Let's hope it was before the time when ethics took such a nosedive at the CBC. Although, it must be said that anyone getting their information about the makeup of Canadian society (especially the prairies) from the CBC over the past several decades would be surprised to learn that Ukrainians and other East Europeans made (and make) up a sizable percentage of it.

Should be interesting to see what comes of this review.

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