Monday, August 22, 2005

CBC Lockout Watch, Day 8

Knowlton Nashweighs in with his fears for the future of CBC, wondering whether it's time to say "GOOD NIGHT!" to the beleaguered public broadcaster.

Let's look at the numbers, then:

CBC TV, and its all-news sister station Newsworld, currently have an audience of about eight to nine per cent of English-language viewers.

But about 40 per cent of viewers watching Canadian programming do so on the two CBC channels - a task that became more difficult last fall, winter and spring because CBC filled its empty Hockey Night in Canada hours with aging Hollywood movies.

CBC radio networks One and Two are heard by 10 per cent of the listening audiences, but its local programming, where it exists, regularly grabs larger audiences. In Ottawa, for instance, CBC radio's morning and afternoon magazine shows regularly vie for top spot in the ratings.

With less than 10% of the overall English-language market but 40% of all Canadian programming viewers, it looks as if CBC-TV's viewership numbers are getting held up by sports.

Look at the flip side, though: 60% of Canadian programming viewers are watching something other than CBC. So the main argument of CBC's most passionate defenders--the extinction of Canadian programming without CBC--doesn't hold water.

There's also a lesson for CBC in its strong morning and afternoon drive shows: you're all that's left for people who don't want to listen to DJ drivel in rush hour. For now. Satellite radio is on the way.

Leave more of your programming power in local hands the way PBS and NPR do, and local listeners and viewers will come.

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