The message from the Writers Guild of Canada today was that, as our nation..s public
broadcaster, the CBC must be held to a higher standard than the private
broadcasters when it comes to commissioning and airing quality Canadian
programming. The WGC appeared today at the CRTC hearing into the CBC..s
licence renewal which began November 19.
WGC Executive Director Maureen Parker noted that ..the public broadcaster arrived
at the CRTC asking for flexibility. Flexibility cannot come at the expense of their
legislated mandate. We ask the CRTC to require at a minimum that the CBC
maintain their current level of Canadian drama and documentaries. Canadians
deserve no less from their public broadcaster...
The WGC recommended a combination of exhibition and expenditure requirements
on Programs of National Interest (PNI) to ensure that CBC offers audiences quality
original programming and a variety of choice. Specifically, the WGC recommended
a requirement of 10 hours per week of PNI rather than the 7 hours CBC has
proposed. CBC should not have the flexibility to air less PNI than it does now.
The WGC also requested that minority co-productions like The Tudors be excluded
from PNI because they do not reflect Canada to Canadians as required by the
Broadcasting Act. Canadians want quality Canadian drama. They prove it by making
shows like CBC..s Republic of Doyle, Arctic Air, The Rick Mercer Report and
Heartland strong ratings successes.
The WGC also argued that CBC should be held to a higher standard when it comes
to programming for kids and youth, a viewership that CBC claims (unsubstantiated)
has abandoned TV for digital platforms. CBC..s continuously diminishing offering to
these audiences may make their claim a self-fulfilling prophecy. To avoid this and
underline CBC..s mandate to serve all Canadians, the WGC recommended that CRTC
establish a requirement for original programming for children and youth on CBC TV.
Reinforcing the WGC..s call for a strong public broadcaster was award-winning
screenwriter Andrew Wreggitt, the writer behind uniquely Canadian stories like
The Wrath of Grapes: The Don Cherry Story and The Phantoms. ..While we
empathize with the CBC as it struggles with its financial situation,.. says Wreggitt,
..it is essential that the CBC's core mandate be preserved. We have great Canadian
stories to tell and the CBC is the place to tell them...