Thursday, March 20, 2014
Canadian Content Fading Fast
"There's CBC Canadian content and then there's --not much else."
An esteemed veteran CBC producer is talking and he's worried that fragile edifice we call "Cancom" is headed straight for the dumpster.
The slide began way back in 1985 when Canada's commercial broadcasters banded together and got the CRTC to change its content rules regarding scripted Canadian TV drama.
Specifically the networks asked CRTC to dump all its requirements and they promised in return to informally adhere to the same guidelines they'd always followed.
Only they pulled a fast one.
In 1985 I counted 11 splendid hour long Canadian TV drama series running to deep appreciation from viewers.
The next season the dust cleared and only two Canadian scripted dramas were left.
All the new cable channels that have arrived in recent years and the battle for quality Canadian shows remains as precarious as ever.
I remember getting to know the Canadian actor David Sutcliffe when he was making a TV movie in Oakville titled.
He'd left Toronto because acting opportunities were few and far between and he'd enjoyed success on American TV in Gilmore Girls and I'm With Her.
Last season CBC gave him the opportunity to come back in the police saga Cracked.
When I chatted him up after the first shaky season he acknowledged "We had a bumpy start."
But improvements were made and the show in season two was vastly improved although CBC's season order was down to just eight episodes --an ominous sign.
Then word came CBC had simply cancelled out. CBC also cancelled Arctic Air which had some measure of ratings success but was costly to make.
What does the network expect? How can a season order of eight episodes stand up against a full blown American import?
To CTV's credit the network has stuck with such Canadian series as Saving Hope and The Listener.
Rogers track record with scripted shows is far more iffy --Citytv cancelled Murdoch Mysteries only to see it soar over on CBC.
Global has had some fine Canadian dramas such as Kate and Combat Hospital but both were cancelled when the American network bailed out.
That leaves CBC and the network must struggle to fill a cash hole of $400 million caused by the loss of Hockey Night In Canada's commercial revenues to Rogers.
"I'm hearing all scripted series are on the cancellation table," says my veteran source.
Does that mean a CBC reduced to a sort of Canadian CNN service?
CBC President ()()()()() must retaliate by telling local MPs such a stem won't work.
The first thing he can do is cancel the local newscasts in each and every Tory riding.
That's been done in the past and it worked then in getting Canadians hopping mad at what lack of government support is doing to our public national network.