By the time you read this, you may have already received an email from an online group called Avaaz asking you to “pull out all the stops” by spending a minute to fill out an online petition which will be “delivered to parliament” to pressure the Harper government into granting the CBC’s loan request, thereby “saving the CBC.”
While ineffective email petitions are as old as the web, there is telling irony in Avaaz, an anti-globalization group claiming to oppose “political elites and unaccountable corporations,” taking up the CBC’s cause. This is the same CBC (headed by a political appointee) that sought to bring American game shows Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy to the weekday 5:30 and 7:30 time slots, respectively, that flipped CBC Radio 2 from one of the few classical music outlets left on the radio to an adult contemporary station, that spent an enormous amount of money two years ago on an American Idol knock off simulcast on ABC that subsequently bombed.
Of course one could argue the CBC has been pushed into these mandate-bending maneuvers because of its forced reliance on ad revenue, the same depleted revenue that forced CBC President Hubert Lacroix to seek the federal loan to meet its operating budget. But that’s the whole point; these issues are complex, they don’t fall into ideologically distinct piles to which you can simply add your name and hope for the best.
Rather than petition signatures, Avaaz might accomplish more by reminding Canadians of the recently rejected recommendations made to the federal government by the Standing Committee on Heritage (highlighted by Torontoist in February) and provoking debate about how the CBC should best meet its mandate to inform, enlighten, and entertain both nationally and regionally, especially as more and more local broadcasters face closure. It might send out a set of talking points to discuss with your friends and family and provide the mailing and email addresses of local MPs in case you’d like to send out letters voicing your concerns.
You know, boring old democracy, the kind that takes a more than a minute between Twitter and Facebook.