Monday, April 26, 2010

Media: Trend Away from Commercial, Not to CBC

TORONTO, ONTARIO - In the past year, there seems to have been quite a flow of broadcasting talent to the public broadcaster in Canada, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), at the expense of privately-owned media. Amanda Lang and Kevin O'Leary jumped ship from CTV's BNN (Business News Network) to the CBC News Network, blogger Kady O'Malley went from Maclean's to the CBC, and most recently, in Vancouver, Tony Parsons appeared on the CBC's local newscast after leaving the local Global BC organization.

These moves don't compare with the overall trend of the last generation which went the other direction, perhaps most notably when Lloyd Robertson jumped from the CBC to CTV in 1976, and nobody is expecting Robertson to jump back before he retires. While the CBC may have become somewhat more aggressive in recruiting outside talent instead of promoting its own, it seems more likely that the real change is elsewhere.

Advertising revenue for broadcasting has gone down by 8% between the recession and the incursion of the Internet. While that has led to the cuts at the CBC as well, the pressure is even greater at the private broadcasters. While there has not been any reported salary reductions for top talent, it's not hard for people to see the writing on the wall. With more unions in place, the CBC starts looking like a more secure employer, and hence a more attractive one.

Of course, at least on the television end of things, the modest trend has had not any impact on ratings. The only CBC show in the top 30 nationally last week was a hockey playoff broadcast. If a broadcaster, particularly in news, wants to be seen by the masses in Canada, they still have to be on CTV or Global, and that will probably remain true as long as television news is a popular information source.

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