Sunday, April 28, 2013

Changing A Lot Of Channels

When I was the young hotshot TV critic at the Hamilton Spectator in the Seventies I was told I HAD to cover all hearings of the CRTC in Toronto and Ottawa.
At that time the CRTC was building the cable future as new stations and networks tumbled into being and the cable TV landscape developed.
The meetings were thrilling with Chair Pierre Juneau and Vice Chair Harry Boyle in superb fighting form. I was often invited along with The Toronto star's Jack Miller behind the curtain to take tea with the tired commissioners --there even was a one TV critic in those fdays from Montreal.
I loved those moments when the great intellectual Northrop Frye who always seemed to be dozing would wake and ask a question that simply stunned the supplicants. Then he'd go back to sleep again.
But these days Juneau and Frye have departed and the CRTC is a train wreck I'm sorry to say.
The Cadian TV dial which just hit 954 channels is just plain overcrowded with junk.
Canadian content guide lines are routinely ignored by many commercial broadcasters and on some nights it's difficult to find a single quality Canadian show outside of the news.
What's more the cable dial has grown like topsy and doesn't make any sense at all.
CRTC hearings going on right now in Gatineau, Quebec, are focused on mandatory coverage on the cable TV dial.
And these days I no longer have to travel to view this circus --I can watch it all live on CPAC.
My big beef has to do with the continued discrimination against Canadian channels. After all this is still Canada or did I miss something?
When the cable dial was first set up a few prime American cable channels got pride of place.
They included TLN (The Learning Channel) and A&E(Arts And Entertainment).
Both have devolved over the years into low rent boutiques for the likes of Storage Wars and American Hoggers. Send them packing to the outer reaches I say!
The last time the cable channels were changed Buffalo's classy PBS outlet, WNED-TV, was dumped from Cable Channel 18 to Cable Channel 61.
CRTC bureaucrats hated its a classy success story and Torontonians have continued to tune in to Masterpiece Theater's Downton Abbey and Live At The Met in near record numbers.
They also deposit their dollars with the non-profit station. So I'm saying WNED-TV deserves to get back to Channel 18 or 19 as soon as possible.
There's a stink going on right now with SUN TV trying to grab a lower spot on the dial so it will be eligible for an 18 cents a month handout.
I try to watch SUN TV from time to time but speaking as a life long conservative I find it preposterous and not very lively.
I mean how can these right wingers get all agitated when we have a Tea Party mayor in Toronto and an ultra Conservative prime minister in Ottawa. That leaves only the provincial premier as the sole liberal out there,
I just got a note from Rogers saying Spike TV which is dog awful is getting bounced to the nether regions with AMC getting the spot --remember AMC now hosts the most popular U.S. series The Walking Dead plus the continuing brilliant Mad Men and Breaking Bad.
Another cable channel that gets me mad is Outdoor Life. There are reruns of Storage Wars and Ghost Hunters every time I look in.
I'd banish OLN to way up the dial.
The Oprah Network is just plain boring and irrelevant to most fans with its dismal ratings. Give it the heave ho to way up the dial.
CBC's Canadian Documentary channel should be brought in from the cold if the CRTC is at all interested in preserving the little Canadian content we still get.
My biggest recent disappointment is BBC Canada which has multiple reruns of Top Gear and Graham Norton and very little of the classy BBC drama we should be expecting. Only one new show Phil Spencer Secret Agent is hitting it with me.
Metropolis is a string of American repeats, it's hardly a Canadian channel.
There are too many repeats from HGTV on DYI if you ask me.
On the other hand National Geographic Channel is working just fine. On History I'm currently watching World War II In High Definition although I've already seen a few of these episodes.
The time is right for the CRTC to regain its moxie and start handing out tough love sentences to some of these cable webs which are no longer performing.

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